Eight thousand miles is a long way to travel just to set up a top rope. That’s especially true when there’s a guy with a machine gun blocking your way on the approach. But here on the sandstone cliffs of the Gheralta Massif was a unique opportunity to help writer and mountain guide Majka Burhardt establish some of the very first sport climbing routes in the nation of Ethiopia. The risk of automatic weapons fire notwithstanding it didn’t take long to convince me that it was still a good idea.

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