Sonnie, Tommy and the cliffs of Gozo on the cover of the new Black Diamond catalogue

Out of a total of 14 climbing locations around the world reviewed, from Yosemite to Kyrgyzstan, Malta was chosen for the front cover of the latest Black Diamond online catalogue! The picture shows Sonnie Trotter leading his new route Club Paradiso on the north cliffs of Gozo, close to a cave called Għar Ħalq Ħamiem. It is an amazing picture, taken by Becca Caldwell, that captures the drama of the ascent: while waves crashed and thundered at the base of the cliff, Sonnie styled his way steadily over doubtful rock and sketchy pro. He paused close to the top and only after several attempts did he make it through the final crux moves.

Inside the catalogue Tommy recounts the story of how they came to Malta. In Sonnie’s case, this was his second visit. His first was in 2005 when he came out here with Katie Brown and some others to discover the endless potential for DWS. Using inflatable kayaks and boats they discovered many new areas and put up several new lines during that trip. Sonnie left with the memory of a cave in Gozo, close to Xlendi, that had promising potential. He determined to come back to it one day. It took him until now to get a team together and give it a shot – and what a team! Sonnie Trotter; Tommy and Becca Caldwell, arguably the world’s strongest trad new-routers combined with the man who can record the story as it unfolds like no other – Corey Rich!

After leading Club Paradiso, When I start to Panic and their dead-end route outside of Xlendi Bay, the boys finally set their hearts on the most extraordinary roof climb they had ever seen. The cave of Ħalq Ħamiem has a gash cutting through its centre across the flat span of the square-cut roof. Naming it the X-Factor, this amazing line became the obsession of Sonnie and Tommy for the next few days. The catalogue shows a picture of this and soon we will be able to release the video we have of their alternating burns on the route – mind boggling stuff!

After they had done their best at breaking through the X-Factor, made good progress but failed to reach the end, the boys took a wind-down day at the end of their stay on Malta. They joined Pat and I on Comino for a day of new routing at Il-Mistika Cave. With a mischievous smile that never leaves his face, Sonnie led Hexed, another new route. It got its name because Sonnie borrowed my rack for the ascent and incredibly, this was the first time in his life that he placed a hex for protection! Tommy and Sonnie then quickly scoped, top-roped and mastered a mega-hard bulge at the left side of the cave, resulting in another potential new route which they asked me to name. I came up with Sudden Death, because that’s what will happen if you don’t stick the dyno!

Here are some new pictures of the great time we spent together with Sonnie, Tommy and Becca. The best thing about these guys is that they are smiling all the time and their enthusiasm for our sport is infectious…

Andrew Warrington

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