An impressive 500 foot (150 meter) cliff on the south side of the Ruhengeri-Gisenyi road. A well known landmark, it has even appeared on MTN billboards in Kigali! Bigogwe has beautiful views of the heavily populated countryside, as well as of the Karasimbi and Nyarigongo volcanoes.
Park just off the main road next to a small genocide memorial. Follow trails for 15 minutes to the cliff base. Expect to be followed and observed by large numbers of locals, some of whom will congregate in a pack at the top awaiting your arrival.
History: This climb was reportedly used as a training exercise by the Rwanda military in the pre-genocide period, and old cables and pitons are much in evidence. The line described above was climbed on May 23, 2004 by Doug Teschner, Erin Shutes, and Sive Bresnihan. This was apparently the first ascent in many years and attracted a large crowd of up to 1000 local observers.
This sweet climb is one of the best in Rwanda! It generally follows the obvious, right-of-center crack (mostly off-width) which runs the full height of the cliff. Good rock (with many climber friendly nubbins), sustained climbing, and exciting run outs make for a great outing. A classic trad route with route finding challenges, lichen, etc. Don’t miss it!
- Overcome vegetation to reach the crack proper. Climb the crack and face to its right, past three pitons (getting past the third is the route’s 5.6+ crux) followed by a thought-provoking 5.5 run out (80 foot ground fall potential) up the face to the right of the crack. Finally protection! Belay at a small grassy stance with two pitons for the anchor. 100 feet.
- Nice, but easy climbing to the left of the crack, then unpleasant bushwhacking to a nice stance with bolts and a cable. 50 feet , 5.4
- Up face above, eventually crossing the crack back to the left, then later back right to a semi-hanging belay with three pitons. 90 feet, 5.6
- Surmount the bulge above, then follow the off width crack up a thin face to a cable around a chockstone and (higher) a cable and bolts hidden inside the wide crack. 60 feet 5.5R
- Up the crack and face to the right with some exciting unprotected friction moves to a hidden piton on the left. Continue past another pin, then traverse left across orange lichen to a short inside corner leading to a grassy stance below a blocky outcrop. (Note: spectator children may boldly descend to this point from the top.) 110 feet, 5.6 R
- Climb the corner and face above to the top. 50 feet, 5.5 R