See David Lama climb a huge, cascading sinkhole

The climber took to the undiscovered Baatara Gorge to make a truly beautiful line.
David Lama climbing Avaatara (5.14d), his First Ascent in the Baatara Gorge in Lebanon.
The first ascent of Avaatara in the Baatara Gorge © Corey Rich/Red Bull Content Pool
By Alison Mann

David Lama chose Lebanon as the location for his latest adventure and fixed his sights on setting a route in the untouched Baatara Gorge.

It was a bold move for the young climber, as Lebanon isn’t known for climbing, but David wanted to explore new ground, and he successfully set the new route Avaatara, which is a 5.14d climb.

More: See David Lama and Conrad Anker climb Latent Core

Watch his incredible first ascent of Baatara Gorge here

On why he chose Lebanon, David says: “If you get to travel roads that have already been discovered, you’re basically just following. But if you go somewhere no one has ever been you’re basically in the lead and that’s something I really like.

“Lebanon is definitely a special place, it’s somehow a little bit exotic, a place that you don’t actually plan to go to as a climber, as it’s not really on the climbing map, and that’s one factor that drove me to come here.”

Baatara Gorge was previously unclimbed

David Lama climbs the first ascent of Avaatara (5.14d) in the Baatara Gorge near Tannourine, Lebanon on June 18th, 2015.
A look into the Baatara Gorge © Corey Rich/Red Bull Content Pool

As for the climb, it was set in a huge sinkhole, with a waterfall pouring through the inside. It had never been climbed before, so David had to be imaginative in setting his route – which initially gave him doubts it would even be possible.

It is a spectacular sinkhole in Lebanon

Light shines through the caves in the Baatara Gorge in Lebanon.
The spectacular Baatara Gorge © Corey Rich/Red Bull Content Pool

He says: “It’s not very common that you get to such a stunning location nobody has climbed.
“To find a climbable line in this cave, in this sinkhole, was really hard. I really had my doubts. The walls are incredibly steep and there are hardly any holds on it, so I was unsure there was a line I could free climb."

The crux was extremely difficult

David Lama climbs the first ascent of Avaatara (5.14d) in the Baatara Gorge near Tannourine, Lebanon on June 18th, 2015.
David Lama on the first ascent © Corey Rich/Red Bull Content Pool

The crux was so difficult that clipping the quickdraws in the roof would have taken too much energy, so he simply chose to skip. Therefore it was a relief when it was over and he knew he wasn’t going to take a fall.

David completed the new route

David Lama climbs the first ascent of Avaatara (5.14d) in the Baatara Gorge near Tannourine, Lebanon on June 18th, 2015.
David Lama climbs in Lebanon © Corey Rich/Red Bull Content Pool

He believes the route is truly beautiful, almost a kind of artwork. He explains: “I guess when it comes to climbs that are this hard or are this close to your limit, climbing is almost more an art than a sport.
"It’s the transition from an idea you have in your mind, to something everyone can see. Like now everyone knows this line is climbable, and that’s beautiful in my opinion."

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