Sleepless in Malta

Lissette's Pictures 039

Attard, Malta

I’ve had a few sleepless nights.

You know, the ones where you lay awake in tears at the realisation that your dreams may have been dashed as a result of a split second decision.

The ones where you feel helpless and lost.

The ones where you are wrapped with discomfort because you can no longer walk anymore because your injury is too severe.

I cast my mind back to that fateful second where I, barely two metres above the ground, feel an ephemeral buzz of panic as I realise that I am too short to reach the clipping hold for the first bolt.

In a “bravery” effort to control my fear, I ignore the flashing sirens and attempt to climb higher to some better holds. Three points of contact are plastered on the slightly overhanging rock as I make my way up to a well chalked flake. I eyeball a jug out to my right and not even a hair’s breadth from cautioning my spotter, the entire flake explodes in my hand and catapults me off the wall.

Time stands still for just a minute before the pain arrives. It’s all I can remember as it sears up my left ankle.

I’m disgusted at the decrepit state of my harness and clothes as they are sprayed with dirt and choss when I hit the ground. My first thought was a burning desire to keep climbing. Surely, after a small rest, the pain would subside and I’ll be able to continue.

Even after a quick thinking Claudine (bless her nursing career path) bandages and elevates my ankle, it doesn’t go away. I try to stand up only to fall over in pain.

A week has passed and my mind has wandered to a familiar wanton place. Unable to dig myself from the myriad of self deprecating thoughts I descend into the rabbit hole of despair and can see no end in sight.

“It’s only a sprain,” the GP says. “Take some paracetamol.” A glimmer of hope.

Until then, I am a prisoner in my home while my Maltese counterparts are gallavanting on rock and my supportive parents a 24 hour plane ride away. Limited to limping and hopping, my days have been passed watching the Great British Bake Off and patting the cats – so I guess it hasn’t been all bad. Becky has been a wonder and I am thankful to Stephen and Claudine who embarrassingly piggy backed me out of the crag. Bless Malta for its easy access cliffs. And a support network however small of great locals.


3 thoughts on “Sleepless in Malta

  1. it’s kinda hard to believe a first bolt fall resulting in a foot sprain caused so much despair and lament from a rock climber… this is by far the best case scenario you could possibly dream of… makes me wonder why you gave up writing this blog afterwards? are you not interested in being a nomad reporter, a climbing adventurer and a reckless explorer of the world anymore? come on…

  2. It wasn’t a foot sprain actually. It ended up being a torn plantar fascia that resulted in me not being able to walk for three weeks. I spent the last month of my climbing trip on the couch, patting cats, painfully stretching everyday and watching episodes of Great British Bake Off. But generally, I’ve found that when one finds themselves alone in a foreign country away from their friends and family that one’s negative emotions do become amplified. Especially when they are unable to do something that they’ve come to that country to do, as well.

  3. hi there, nice to see you back to blogging, wanderer! keep up the good work 🙂

    about climbing incidents and their consequences, I can only recommend you find and work with the excellent “Climbing Self Rescue”. check it online:

    do I need to say I have no personal interest in advertising it whatsoever, only the satisfaction to know more and more climbers learn the basics of safety at heights and become capable of helping themselves and others off trouble… peace!

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