The Malta Climbing Club is pleased to announce the development of a new climbing area in the South of Malta which adds another ten sport routes to the cliffs between Thaiwand Walls and Għar il-Munqar (Spooky Cave). This new climbing area has been baptised as FEARLESS WALL by its main developer James Herrera, but it’s not because one has to be particularly brave to climb there (though the location is stunning and the exposure can be a bit heady). James tells me he felt that the name blended in well with the plethora of other Walls that surround this new crag – Thaiwand, Continuation, Red, Blue and Wonders… so many walls within sight of each other – it’s actually less than a kilometre as the crow flies.
I recently spent an afternoon at Fearless wall with James and Mireia to see what the crag has to offer. With a hot and humid Southeasterly wind blowing I feared (excuse the pun!) that the rock would be too humid for enjoyable climbing. What I didn’t factor into my fears was that the wind would be blowing directly onto the wall we’d be climbing, providing a cooling and drying effect. Friction was perfect on the three routes that I climbed, so we can chalk up another pro for this crag – it’s climbable on humid windy days.
My immediate impression of Fearless Wall was that the climbing would be mainly technical with a smattering of power moves thrown in for good measure. The routes all start with undercut, bouldery moves before transitioning to more upright terrain. I soon realised that while there are a lot of features like tufas (some of which, incredibly, grow out diagonally) the wall has blank looking sections where the climber is left to rely on smearing tiny footholds and pulling on crimps and edges. The routes push you into a lot of different body positions and require the use of a gamut of climber’s tricks – knee bars, drop knees, lay backs, crimps, mono pocket pulling – you name it, and you’re probably going to use it at one point or another on these routes.
The grade range makes this crag ideal for intermediate and advanced level climbers, but don’t come here expecting give away grades, you’ll have to work hard to be able to tick the route off in your topo. The French would definitely denote this crag as TD (Très Difficile).
The routes I climbed were all mostly solid, but as with any newly developed line on limestone there was some shedding of smaller crystals and weak features. The routes will clean up with more traffic, but for the first few months of their life they will be prone to minor breakages. Rock fall even gave rise to one of the route names – see the photo below to guess which one!
My favourite route on Fearless Wall so far would have to be MicroPhallus (6b) – the rock features are simply superb. Sometimes when we climb we’re too engaged in getting to the top of the route to really appreciate the rock that we’re climbing on, but this is one route that deserves some close attention. If you’re too pumped to make observations while you’re climbing through the final section of tufas, do yourself a favour and take the time to give them a good look on your descent.
James tells me that he finds it hard to pinpoint a favourite amongst the routes, but he ranks Ali (6c+) and Demons of the Winds (7a+) amongst his top three. His current favourite is the project marked number 4 on the topo, which he thinks goes at around 7c+ or 8a. James describes the route as having a bouldery and physical start, after which it becomes very technical on minimal crimps, with bold moves separating each bolt. The crux is the last 5 metres of the climb, all on the tips of your fingers … really enjoyable. I’m not quite sure if he’s got his tongue firmly locked in his cheek with that last remark, but you know us rock climbers, we have strange definitions of what gives us pleasure and enjoyment.
To access the crag park as usual for Garden of Eden and from Spooky Cave (Għar il-Munqar) follow a series of cairns that lead down in a meandering zig zag trending Southeast (left if you’re looking out to sea). The cairns will lead you to a platform just below Fearless Wall – scramble up to the main Fearless Wall ledge from here, or make your way left (looking out) when you are level with a large cave with a big tufa column running down its middle. Keep walking Southeast along the platform under a severely overhanging bulge (potential for some very hard bouldery routes) till you round a corner and are standing at the bottom of Fearless Wall. Don’t mind the dog skulls – they won’t bite you 😉 The descent from Għar il-Munqar to Fearless Wall takes about 10 minutes.
Alternatively, make your way towards Pillarbox Cave but instead of striking out left at the bottom of the dry valley, head Northwest (right looking out) towards the top of Continuation Wall. From here take a narrow ledge to a large platform. A cairn marks the location of an abseil point (25m to the ledge).
The crag faces Southeast and is in the shade in the afternoon (in summer from around 3pm), making it an ideal evening crag in the hotter months. In colder months the sun hits the crag until around 13:00.
The routes were all equipped by James Herrera, except for MicroPhallus (6b) which was established by Daniel De Padua. Equipment and material was all provided by the MCC Bolt Fund. All bolts used at this crag are 6mm HCR (High Corrosion Resistant) Sea Water Bolts which come with a supposed 50 year lifetime. Chain lower-offs are 316 Stainless Steel, and Hilti Resin (HIT RE 500) was used to glue in the bolts and anchors. Should anyone wish to contribute to the local climbing scene by donating a few euros to help us promote, develop and keep climbing in Malta safe, instructions are in the bolt fund page.