There’s something quite special about The Wave crag in Naxxar. The rigid stone bears little resemblance to the fingertip shearing knife point formations that other areas have. Centrally located in Malta, easy accessible via public transport and within walking distance from three other crags, Naxxar is an ideal quickie climbing spot for beginner to intermediate grades. The Wave itself is characterised by knee bar infested tufas, positive holds and flakes on a slightly overhanging wall (the golden climbs however, are 7b and up – so I’ve made a mental checklist…).
The view, as always the case at most Maltese crags, is stunning. On this day, in my line of sight was Claudine climbing and in the distance, a sail boat floating along the ocean while a paraglider drifted above reinforcing Malta as an adventure playground yet to be discovered by the world.
Here, I’ve found my perfect project: Nighthawks at the Diner – a stunning line with an early crux, a no hands rest (for my little shortness!) and breezy traverse finish. At 7a (23), it would be the accomplishment of all my lamentations in the last few months. I would finally come away from the plateau I’ve suffered.
At first it seemed impossible; the body tension-intensive moves threw me off the rock and the smoothness of the crux footholds holds tested my confidence.
Clipping from a straight arm undercling twice in a row was a tough challenge. One mouthful of rope wasn’t enough but two was too much for my weary forearms. The solution? One a half mouthfuls and believing that I wouldn’t plummet to the ground should I fall at that exact moment. Of course, these were all irrational fears – as most climbing limitations usually are.
If that wasn’t enough, a sideways dead point on the crux pulled me off so many times I didn’t believe I could ever send. A shuffle in feet, body memory and increased strength and suddenly everything began to fall into place. Stay low on the traverse and voila, the anchors are in sight.
I’m never quite sure how my sequences happen to work in the end when at first it seems so incredibly strenuous. Feeling defeated, we yell “I can’t do it! I can’t do it! Falling! Falling!” constantly like a broken record but over time our bodies answer our desperate pleas for adaption and without thinking, the moves come through us.
Every time I project a new route above my grade level, I become enamored with climbing all over again. From working out the moves and constantly falling to fluidly clipping the chains, I witness my fingers, my body and my mental stamina become stronger and what I thought was my limit reset itself. Where once was a fear of lead climbing, I am ferociously attacking each bolt without fear. All of this coming from someone who hadn’t entertained the idea of sport or exercise in the 11 years before she discovered climbing, these experiences have been life changing.
It took a few weeks to tick Nighthawks, but the feeling of accomplishment was immense. Even as I stuck the dead point and moved through to the no-hands rest on the traverse, I didn’t believe I would send. As always, Claudine was my supporter and when I finally reached my second milestone I was glad that my new friends were there to witness it. Would I be able to project Sea of Illusions now? How would I go on another 7a? The options seem endless now.