John Codling first came to Malta in 1986. I had written an article in the popular British “Climber & Rambler” magazine which at the time had generated a slow, steady trickle of British climbers visiting our islands. John was one of them. He wrote to me about his forthcoming visit and I remember meeting him near the Sliema Police Station as he drove up in a hired red mini minor. We decided to go up to Victoria Lines, Cikka Cave area. I still remember him asking me what sort of grade the wall left of “Cikka” went at. I told him it was about VS/ HVS 5a (thats about F5c) so much to my amazement he set off and easily soloed the route. This was the start of a friendship that has lasted about 25 years. At the time he climbed mostly with the URCC – University Rock Climbing Club which I had set up with Noel Toledo on entering University. Andrew Warrington was the first member, and although Richie Abela wasn’t actually at University at the time, he was an essential part of the club and completed the foursome that climbed with John and his friends over the years, developing many new routes and crags in the process.
John attended my wedding back in 1990 and has seen my kids grow up and become climbers themselves. I’ve climbed with him in Germany, Austria, Italy, Wales, Scotland, Sicily and England as well as in Malta and Gozo.Most recently we’ve met up in San Vito lo Capo with our wives to enjoy the countless excellent sports routes there. Perhaps most memorable (for me) of the routes we did abroad together was probably the time we drove over to Llanberis Pass in North Wales where I onsighted that great classic climb “Cenotaph Corner” and also the first time I ice-climbed with him on Snowdon when we climbed “Right-hand Gully”. That’s when I discovered just how eye wateringly painful ice-climbing can be as your hands and fingers start to “thaw”!
Great memories. John has been to Malta about 15 times over the years and has developed many excellent, hard and often “brave” routes all over Malta and Gozo such as “Physique”, “Champagne”, “Boxer” , “Le Poseur”, “The Dream of Blue Turtles” etc. etc. – many of them classics. His route “Run Run Run” for example was recently also featured on this website. Having worked on the 1986 climbing guide supplement “Malta New Climbs” and kept a record up to 1996 of all the new routes, I had also started work with John on the new guidebook but subsequently had to give up the project as I had moved to Germany for professional reasons. So its been great to meet up with him again and as usual explore new crags and put up new routes! John attended the Sliema climbing wall yesterday and enjoyed a beer and pasta with a number of members of the MCC as well as with veteran Maltese climber Richie Abela (pic). An interview with John will be published on this website soon.