Unchi Maka at Last!
Gaz Parry, Giles Cornah and I climbed Unchi Maka last Wednesday (24th August) and scooped the first GB ascent. Lying on the SW face of Sialouze in the heart of the Ecrins Massif, this grand voie is arguably the hardest alpine wall in the Southern French Alps. Graded ABO (abominable!), with a crux pitch of Fr. 8a, and a further 6 pitches between 7a and 7c+ the route is over 400m. long and finishes at 3576m. right at the top of the Sialouze. Unchi Maka was first put up in the autumn of 2009 by the Ecrins’ most consistent extreme new router Fred Roulx with Ben Kempf and Francis Elichabe and means Mother Earth – a perfect marriage with Wakantanka (the Great Spirit or Lord of the Earth) on the East Face of the Sialouze. Never impossible but always engaging with pitches that required both bolts and trad gear our dedicated trio sent the line in under 10 hours. We split the route into sections, each climber leading up to 4 pitches at a time. Having spent all winter laid up with a herniated disc dreaming of this amazing line my reward was Pitch 11 – an horrendous overhanging off-width crack. I thought Gaz’s 8a roof was a trifle in comparison! But as ever the main hero was Giles who despite constantly bleeding finger tips managed to lead all his pitches with a big grin. Thanks guys, it was a real slice!
N.B. The topo and full details are in Jean-Michel Cambon’s latest edition (2011) of “Oisans Nouveau, Oisans Sauvage – Livre Est. And for more insights check out Gaz’s blog here: http://gazparryclimbing.blogspot.com/2011/08/unchi-maka-aka-mother-earth.html
Also check out this news item on Unchi Maka on UKC - the mopst popular climbing forum in Europe - http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=63907
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