An Experience with a "Caveman"

Following my brief writeup yesterday based on information submitted by Rael to the MCC website,  Stoyan Nenov who partnered Rael on some of the projects has submitted his own write up giving his own impressions of the routes:

An experience with a “Caveman”

by Stoyan Nenov 

When I first came to Malta with a climbing agenda I didn’t know where to start. I knew about some places from the “Malta Climbing” guidebook but that was it. Pretty handy but old information. Most of the routes were marked with E grade and I was looking for hard bolted lines. So I started asking everybody I know.

Then one day a friend of mine who is climbing in the island for the last six years brought me to Ghar Lapsi followed by “the Cave” on the next day. I saw Lapsi like a poor bolted place (so much potential and just a few lines) but I felt in love with the cave. So we started going there trying hard and fully equipped pieces like the classic “Crazy Monkey” which I onsighted on my first visit and needed to begin something else.

I came back there a few days later and tried another route, hard but unknown, “might be 7b/7c”, I said and went home without sending it. Then on my next visit I met a curly and very psyched Spanish guy who gave me the names and the grades of the routes. Those were “Challenge Accepted” 7b+, my new project, followed by “Blind Date” 7c and “Shaman” 7c/c+, surrounded with some more 6b’s and 6c’s. After that I was like “O.K., we already know each other”, talking about the routes all the time, “let’s see what can we do together”.

In the next weeks I was going to the Cave with my Bulgarian climbing buddies and meanwhile saw there was some other activity going on at the rock. I later came to understand that it was Rael, again, working on three new pieces in the cave: the monster route “Caveman” with possible grade around 7c/c+, the biting shorty “Orangedreams” 7b and one more warm up route at the end of the cave which is probably 6b. So we just needed to make some arrangements and there we were climbing the cave together. In two days both me and Rael did “Orange Dreams” and then he made the first ascent of “Caveman” which took him five tries. This way he got the honor of sending the best and most existing route in the cave and I signed a new project in my must do list.

The “Caveman” is a route of almost 30 meters which starts in the central sector of the cave from the place that is marked by some vandals’ red paint.  It goes through the tuffa rich overhang and the whole ceiling all the way to the chain of “Challenge accepted”. It is an amazing 3D climbing experience with many possibilities for heal hooks, knee blocks and even no hand rests. At many points your head hangs lower than any other part of your body and you are basically losing your sense about the directions.



Rael Saez finishing “Caveman” 7c

After these 30 meters of climbing adventure I was left feeling like I had just done the 100 meters sprint. You find yourself out of breath, your belly, arm and foot muscles are pumped. This is a long, complex 7c and it’s a tight one.

 I knew the tall right part of the cave from the orange warm up 6b there and the crimpy 6c/7a next to “Shaman”. The lines there are almost like high ball boulders but since the cruxes are at the upper part of the rock you really don’t want to fall there. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised when Rael showed me his other new route there called “Orange dreams”.  He suggested 7b as a grade and quickly made the first ascent – I confirmed this grade on the next day with the second ascent.

Rael Saez at the end of “Orange Dreams” 7b (Photo: Diva Valentinova)

It is a dynamic succession of painful moves on crimps and small edges, absolutely boulder style and it holds its 7b grade from the beginning to the chain. So that’s another nice record for the log book.

Stoyan Nenov on “Orange Dreams” 7b (Photo: Diva Valentinova)

The professional eye can easily notice the possibilities of some future lines next to “Caveman” and I hope that the author Rael Saez will work in the direction of developing more sport climbing gems there. This will open the cave for those who are strong enough to try pieces from the world of 8a’s and harder grades.

Stoyan Nenov

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