Ever wondered what it takes in terms of sheer determination and “blood, sweat and tears” to put up a hard, steep new route? Top local climber Jeffrey Camilleri shares with the club his experiences of five afternoons of hard labour to prepare an 8a+/b sports project. And after all this work..the climber still has to train, practise and lead the route!
In Jeffrey’s words:
Day 1 (Rael Saez and myself)– Meant to be just exploration & checking. Spotted (checked out) the top of the crag, and the rigging on slings. We abseil down too much left of the ideal line. Five meters to the right the rock looks featured and of great quality. Abseiling down on two fixed parallel ropes, while placing loose unsecure nuts and slings to keep close to the rock, we reach the tufa roof! We swung around a few tufas, reasoned where the best line might lead and bolted 1 expansion bolt with a slow 9.6v drill and ¼ hole for an exp bolt below, in an hour or so..got dark,we left..had to leave our trad gear in place..
Day 2 (Rael and myself) – Now with the 24V fully charged MCC Hilti Drill, super enthusiastic to attack the wild overhang as we were well equipped, down and into the roof we descend. With great difficulty we bolted a few more exp bolts, until we arrived at a point where the route had to traverse a bit. No threads or trad placements, I put a skyhook and tried to tighten an expansion bolt. No luck – the bolt I tried to place rotates as the rock is a bit softer in that area..using bolt as a medium for progression only I keep hanging on with hope. Tried to drill a second bolt but it doesn’t tie either! Nerves become tense and I scream madly when even the third bolt doesn’t bite…However, glad that we’d made some progress and soon getting dark, out we swung from bolt to bolt and jumared to go back up in the dark!! No headtorches! The swings out of the roof bolts were so violent that at times I got a bit dizzy…Jumaring up we left again…The heavy drill seemed to be digging into my hipbone and the lightweight sports harness made my legs numb due to its lack of padding.
Day 3 (As Rael was away from Malta and the people who were experienced enough to help me rather than be a burden (safety wise), were busy, I had to go alone)..40kg racksack for 500mtrs…knee still not fully recovered..ouch.
Usual ritual, I went down to the loose bolts, enlarged a 10mil hole to 12mil,and kept exploring in and downwards…a small rock, a Friend, pulled in, got closer, an expansion bolt tied ok, in again, to a small alcove and I slung a big spike..an exp bolt again rotated. I stayed calm, marked a resin bolt placement and a bit further downwards I went. The rock looked loose to the right so I moved left where luckily rock was stronger and featured enough..2 exp bolts went in, using Friends to go in further I arrived at a slabby ledge, perfect for a base..2 holes for base resin bolts were drilled and up I jumared, same way as usual…
Day 4 (Alone) – Down I went marking the headwall bolt placements on the way to the base, with resin gun, cleaning holes on the way down..Resined in bolts, hammered flush into the stone the useless exp bolts and back up.
In the dark with headtorch I place the 3 headwall bolts and holes for the lower-off. As 14mil bit is missing for thicker L-off bolts I know I will have to return, for the last time from the upper side!…
Day 5 – Lower off Chain (Still to be placed)
Drill sponsored by MCC
Bolts sponsored by MRCC
Resin Gun sponsored by Wallrats.net
25Min Drive one way ~ €3Petrol
6 Trips(one went in the morning but was too hot!) = €36
1 resin tube from Wuerth -€20
Voluntary gruelling back breaking work = 18Hrs Free of Charge!
Together with Kurt Vella Haber we opened Blind Date 7c+, Malatese 7c (& Andy Hooper (ground up), Dolphins Dream7a+ etc. etc.
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RAEL SAEZ HAS OPENED AND LED THE LATEST NEW ROUTE IN MELL CAVE – “CRAZY GORILLA”7B+,IT GOES FROM 2/3rds OF CRAZY MONKEY,THEN LEFT THROUGH THE MIDDLE OF THE STEEP CAVE! “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED” ANOTHER aMAZING 7B+ ITS HIS CREATION…GOOD TO NOTE THAT CHALLENGE ACCEPTED HE LED IT BEFORE THE CHAIN l-OFF WAS PLACED, AND MALATESE 7C,THE ROOF HAD NO BOLTS,JUST A ROPE SLING DURING HIS ASCENT, BOLTS WERE PLACED LATER…CAVE ETHICS ARE THAT ALL ROUTES SHOULD FINISH ON TOP GROUND!!
Prosit you guys! Do you have any pics of Crazy Gorilla Jeff? We’ll do a proper write up!