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Mason Earle Sends a Mediterranean Roof Crack in Malta
Posted on May 6, 2016

The awesomely exposed X-Factor roof. A crack splitting this massive ceiling allows this feature to be climbed.

Photogenic routes, exotic destinations and hard crack climbing are three of Mason Earle’s favorite things. So when he and climbing partner Matt Segal departed for the Mediterranean island of Gozo in the Maltese archipelago, they had an objective in mind. That plan was a first ascent of X-Factor (5.13+), a brutally hard overhanging, hand-jamming 20-meter crack. Perched above the azure blue waters of the Mediterranean in the Harq Hamiem cliffs, the route (which has been called one of the hardest roof cracks in the world) was originally climbed by  Sonnie Trotter and Tommy Caldwell. The pictures of their effort were sensational and like most Earle was enticed by the visuals. So he reached out to Trotter for a little beta and a green light to tackle the Malta Roof Crack. The accomplishment was a personal odyssey and the Andrew Burr images convey the epicness of the undertaking.  Today we’re publishing the first of two galleries from the journey.

—LYA Editor

The sheer, rugged coast of Gozo near Harq Il-Hamiem.

Captions by Mason Earle, Images by Andrew Burr

The morning commute, Gozo. The little shacks in the fields are bird hunting blinds.

 

Top: The awesomely exposed X-Factor roof. A crack splitting this massive ceiling allows this feature to be climbed. Second image: The sheer, rugged coast of Gozo near Harq Il-Hamiem.

Above: The morning commute, Gozo. The little shacks in the fields are bird hunting blinds. L to R: 1. Mason Earle inspecting the ropes before rappelling down to the roof crack, X-Factor (5.13), Harq Il-Hamiem, Gozo, Malta. 2. Earle working the moves on Gozo’s premiere sea-side roof crack, X-Factor (5.13+). 3. On roof cracks, sometimes your feet are hands, and your hands are feet, Mason Earle switching it up on X-Factor (5.13+).

Tools of the trade. Cams offer the best protection for roof cracks.

 

Above: Tools of the trade. Cams offer the best protection for roof cracks. L to R: 1. Approaching the end of the roof crack. The rough sides of the crack forced the climbers to tape hands to avoid cuts, and “gobies”. 2. The view from the portaledge belay. 3. Charging out the roof crack on savage hand jams, while the azure waters glisten below.

The X-factor roof crack is so steep, you actually climb down!

 

Above: The X-factor roof crack is so steep, you actually climb down! L to R: 1. A lighthearted moment in the portaledge. Nothing like enjoying the sunshine from 300 feet above the Mediterranean on Malta. 2. A bizarre wave of stone on the Gozitan coast. Rock climber Tommy Caldwell famously referred to the rock here as “Dried Peanut Butter”. 3. Sometimes its nice to be a tourist, and see the sights. An old fort in Malta. Below: Skipping along an old aqueduct, after a long day of climbing on Gozo.

Skipping along an old aqueduct, after a long day of climbing on Gozo.

Author: - Friday, May 6th, 2016
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