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The Right Wall

  • Grade context: FR
2
FR

Description

This high cliff barrier is on the right side of the main couloir leading up to the Terminator. Although the entire wall is technically a buttress on its own, the Right Wall Buttress is the name given to the bulky subsidiary cliff protruding from it in an eastward direction.

Approaching from the base of the Middle Buttress, move west, toward The Right Wall, and then right to the entrance of a den-like opening between upright leaning slabs. This spot makes a good belay stance for both Pilgrims Progress and The Right Stuff.

To access the upper region of the first pitch for setting a top rope, hike left (south) from the base for 30 meters, and then switch west up to The Right Wall. Work your way to the right until you find a huge oblong boulder with a platform at its base. Standing on this flat patch puts you directly above the belay stance. Lace a couple of extra long slings around the top of the boulder, add two locking biners, and voila! You’re golden. (One disadvantage of this set up is that the anchor point isn’t visible from the belay stance.)

Judging by the bolts and pitons discovered while making what we thought was a first ascent, the climbing potential of this crag has clearly been explored for quite some time, possibly since the late 80's or early 90's.

Featured routes include:

  1. Pilgrim's Progress (Three pitches)

  2. The Right Stuff

Access issues inherited from Djebel Ressas

Regional Status:
Most of Djebel Ressas is now an excellent setting for a day of rewarding outdoor activity. But the site hasn’t been developed in any formal sense as a recreational objective. Perhaps that’s partly due to its official status as a “nature preserve”. Just as likely, though, it’s because there hasn't been much of a demand for that kind of development in Tunisia. Ressas is a bit off the beaten path, and most folks prefer to spend their leisure time nearer the beaches or in other venues. At this writing there are no maintained hiking trails, trail markers, or service facilities at the mountain. Images viewed on Google Earth™ give some idea of the approaches and the general landscape.
Access:
Until January of 2007 hikers at Djebel Ressas could come and go as they pleased. That winter, however, stricter regulations were established following a brief police action against fundamental Islamic insurgents hiding in the surrounding region. Since then, permission is needed in order to explore the mountain legally. This can be arranged by checking in at a national guard station in the nearby village of Mornag and receiving a permit. Later, you might be required to present the permit to an officer waiting at the base of the mountain.

If you don’t mind flying under the radar, an unofficial approach would be to arrive early enough in the morning (say before 8:00 am) to reach the trailhead before the officer, thereby avoiding the annoying detail of acquiring and presenting a permit.

It may be possible to arrange for permission in advance by contacting the regional security officer at your country’s embassy in Tunis. I do this when I’m scheduling a group excursion to the mountain, just to avoid any hassles. You’ll be asked to provide basic information about your trip such as the date, number of your party, names of participants, and a brief itinerary outlining your plans. Working with the U.S. embassy, it usually takes me from one to two weeks to secure a permit in this way.

Ethic inherited from Djebel Ressas

Guidelines

The development of climbing at Djebel Ressas has been gradual and sporadic. In the absence of an active climbing community no rules have been established beyond those personally dictated by good form, common sense, and respect for the local herdsmen who graciously allow access to what is essentially their backyard. While sport climbing has taken hold on Djebel Zaghoan to the south, the climbing on Ressas has remained traditional. Some old isolated bolts can be found on the higher cliffs, but no bolted routes had been established at the time of this writing.

Grades:
The ratings indicated for these climbs are tentative and have only been backed up by a very small handful of experienced climbers. Besides, the folks I partner with aren’t much concerned about that side of the business, anyway. As long as you’re climbing with pals, and the rock is fun and safe, it’s all good.
Future Development:
The projects described here are just a fraction of what could be done, and there’s plenty of potential for new developments. Undoubtedly, stronger climbers will put up higher caliber routes in the future.

Routes

Add route(s) Add topo Reorder Bulk edit Convert grades
Grade Route
1 5.4
2 5.5
3 5.6

The first pitch of this climb is terrific for the blossoming novice. The remaining two pitches are fun as well, and offer a healthy measure of exposure. The combination makes an excellent first lead on a very moderate surface. Unfortunately, during each pitch the belayer will eventually lose sight of the climber, making crisp vocal communication critical.

The description that follows is for a multi-pitched ascent to the top, but brand new climbers will have more fun just top-roping the first pitch alone.

A. Pilgrim’s Progress First Pitch, YDS: 5.4, FR: 3

  1. Rely on ledges and steps all the way up to, and through, a face bounded on the right by a blocky uneven ridge. A spacious joint between this ridge and the face makes for solid cam and hex placements.

  2. Pull over the upper edge of the face onto a counter top. (After top roping, this counter is the best place from which to be lowered. Climbing farther until to reach the natural anchor points beyond the vision of your belayer can make for weak communication and an awkward descent.)

  3. If leading, continue up big and easy steps to stacks of boulders. Build a sturdy four-point cordelette anchor and belay your second up to this spot.

B. Pilgrim’s Progress Second Pitch, YDS: 5.5, FR: 4a

You’ll easily find your way along this short ridge line that leads to the exposed cliff on the other side.

  1. Edge yourself out over the abyss, pausing long enough to place some pro about midway.

  2. Soon, you’re back on solid ground and working your way up to a bolted belay station on the main ridge of the buttress.

  3. Secure yourself, get rigged for your partner, and belay on, bro! It’s a nice perch from which to enjoy a spectacular view while you wait for your second to join you.

C. Pilgrim’s Progress Third Pitch, YDS: 5.6, FR: 4b

  1. From the bolts, move left past a shallow window that penetrates through the buttress.

  2. Go briefly up and right, onto a face and then a gutter that leads to an exposed bolted horn.

  3. Follow the buttress upward for a few more, low angled meters and continue along the incline for a glimpse over the edge.

  4. To rig a belay station, return to the horn and incorporate the bolt into your anchor system.

After belaying the second and cleaning up the gear, use doubled 60 meter lines to rap from slings, down the east side of the Right Wall, and then to boulders on the ground. When you touch down you should be just 40 meters uphill from where you began at the base of Pilgrim’s first pitch.

FA: Jim Ryan & Christian Hettick, 2005

The belay stance for this sketchy route is a few paces downhill from the base of Pilgrim's Progress.

  1. Climb right, up and over flakes and boulders to a broken arête that frames the main face of Pilgrims Progress.

  2. Ascend straight up the arête using buckets and jug handles. Be alert for loose rock and dubious holds.

  3. From the top, walk off or rap down on Pilgrim’s first pitch.

FA: Jim Ryan & Christian Hettick, 2005

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Activity

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