The first time you touch rock for your baptism as a climber and then the first years of your climbing life are memories you will remember for your whole life, moments you will cherish. At the time you don’t know the significance when you squeeze into your first climbing shoe… You just entered a new world; a world of passions.

A tropical island next to Madagascar

Reunion was my childhood place, my baby garden, and what a unique garden it was! A small tropical Island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, 100% Volcano, and an old French colony, that saw its first human beings only 300 years ago. Since then it has become an island of mixed race and culture, very focused on outdoor sports including running, surfing, hiking, paragliding, and with all that magnificent basalt, climbing!

I was just one of the kids of the Island, and I was given my life by great people, teachers and friends, who were ready to give. Now is time for me to start thanking them, and coming back to my Island and showing it to the world of climbing, is my way to say thank you to all those people who gave me a hand. Who gave me a hand, and also created what climbing is today on the Island: a wall on every school, sports cliffs everywhere, and one of the main subjects in school sports!

Today, James Pearson and I are going back to my origins, flying 12000km from France to the place where I learnt my life. We will be joined by North Face athletes from all over the world, each bringing a different set of skills. The full team consists of Sam the polyvalent American, Jacopo the strong boulderer and sport climber from Italy, James the trad expert from England, Yuji the world-admired Japanese superstar, and myself! A reunion of friends from around the world; we all come there to explore this unique place, and discover a little of its magic!

very first climbing pictures, back on Bassin Plat, Sport climbing sport of the island

Our idea is to descend some of the magnificent canyons that are formed by the seasonal cyclones, and from the base of the canyon, open a new long route, ground-up in a very ethical style. Who knows what we will find, but what better place to look than the wild heart of the Island!

from bouldering to multipitch, basalt is everywhere!

By Caroline Ciavaldini

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