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The Lost Mountain: A Reconnaissance Expedition to Northern Mozambique

When non-climbers ask why I climb, I often give them what I think of as my Zen answer, essentially that climbing is way to experience perfect alignment of body, mind, and nature. It sounds totally flakey, I know. But it’s also true.

But another truth about why I climb has less to do with actual climbing and more to do with adventure. For me, climbing is a tool—a mechanism—for exploring the wild corners of the planet. Last year it brought me to an unpronounceable island on the southern tip of Greenland. We only climbed four days in four weeks, but we still managed to establish a new free route on a beautiful wall. Now I’m heading out once again to Boston’s Logan Airport with a van full of enormous expedition duffels. Next stop: Mozambique.

Chameleons! These guys live in the rainforest along Mt. Namuli’s base. Credit: Branch and Tolley, 2010

My friend Majka Burhardt and I are setting out on a reconnaissance expedition to Mount Namuli, a 900-meter granite dome in the wildlands of northern Mozambique. Joining us is our friend Paul Yoo, a documentary filmmaker from Los Angeles, and Werner Conradie, a biologist from South Africa. Our mission is twofold: to scout the wall for climbing potential and to help

This is exactly why all my other climbing expeditions have been in the alpine. But at least we have our very own snake scientist on this trip! Credit: Branch and Bayliss, 2009

scientists survey the cracks and recesses of Namuli’s massive granite face for new species of life.

The months of research and planning are over. Now it’s time to put the wheels in motion and see where this adventure leads. Will we find the new species of Forest Viper that is believed to be lurking in the rainforest along Namuli’s base? If we do, I sure hope it’s on Werner’s watch and not mine. Will we find a free-climbable route up the steep expanse of granite? Here’s hoping…

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