Sport to Drytool

I have just returned from my latest adventure: three weeks enjoying island life on Malta, whilst doing a placement in the Accident and Emergency department. I chose the location because I heard there was some rock climbing… however I was completely blown away by the quality and diversity of the rock on Malta and sister-island Gozo!

Climbing is such a special sport, which connects and bonds people all around the world. Through arrangements made online, I was picked up from the airport by two climbers and taken straight to the crag! I think it is just awesome that a passion can unite strangers, and make it possible to travel to another country and have an immediate group of friends.

On Malta, the working day typically starts very early, and finishes around 2pm, which is extremely conducive to climbing every single afternoon! I experienced a wide range of styles: steep overhanging caves covered in tuffas; technical slab routes; multipitch sea-cliffs; crimpy overhangs … it had it all, and it was all fantastic. I got a load of practice at on-sighting, managing several routes around 7a /+, with a few quick 7bs and a 7b flash. I really enjoy climbing routes onsight, I love the element of problem solving and surprise that comes with it!

I am extremely grateful to the climbing community who made me feel so welcome and transported me around the island, be that on the back of a scooter or in a bouncy 4x4! I highly recommend Malta as a sport-climbing destination, and will definitely be planning a return trip.

The day after I flew back to the UK, I went to “White Goods” in Wales to take part in the weekend festival. It was fantastic to see so many people with axes in their hands, from novices through to seasoned pros! Psyche was high and lots of routes were getting sent – it was a great atmosphere! I was very happy to flash “Neomania” (M10+), and very grateful to Ramon who was pointing out all the holds to me from above (whilst taking photographs!). I also tried out my new “Aspeed” axes for the first time, which I plan to use for this year’s competition season. They are seriously impressive – the picks stick to anything and the carbon fibre axes are light as a feather.

What next?I am now on placement in Fort William, where there is a great local community of strong climbers who are always psyched for training!

By Anna Wells