Abseiling at Xaqqa Cliffs
It's been a while since I went exploring around the Maltese Islands due to work commitments and holidays. I know, it's been a couple of quiet weeks. Therefore I was thinking how can I make up to you...
It was Tuesday last week when I got a Facebook message from Trifecta Adventure Malta informing me that there will be an abseiling activity the following weekend at Xaqqa Cliffs. I was like YES! That's what I'm going to do, and that's what I did! This photo blog is about my very first abseiling experience! They say life begins after 30... Now I know what they mean! :-)
This is me last Sunday. All geared up, ready to go for my first abseil. The weather was good and that little bit of wind didn't scare me. At this point I was still all smiles, happy to pose and my knees weren't shaking... I'm just joking, I didn't loose my smile, but I have to admit I was a bit scared. But apparently being scared is good for you! So is getting out of your comfort zone!
Now the sh*t got real and I'm getting ready to go. Here is Silvio with me, who got me ready and secured on two ropes. At this point we had to move right to the edge of the cliff to get some final briefing before the actual abseil. Silvio explained some basic rules and vital tricks.
There were two ropes attached to me. I would be controlling one of the ropes and the second one, the security rope, would be regulated by one of the Trifecta staff members (just in case I panic or get stuck). What I found quite difficult was to get used to was the fact, that I would be controlling the rope only with my right hand (because I'm right-handed). I would have the tendency to hold on to the rope with both hands. Which is wrong and dangerous. On the upcoming photos you can see that my left hand is just holding to the harness or alongside my body.
I also had to learn to trust the equipment and be able to lean back so I would be nearly at a right angle with the cliffs. Naturally, I tried to stay as close as I could to the rocks, just in case something happens I could hold on to it, so it took me some time to get into the right position. But Silvio was very patient with me.
The scariest part is to get over the edge, naturally. I took a moment to get familiar with the system an tried to release the rope a little bit to see how it would react. And also try not to look down too much, as you might start panicking when you see the height you are at.
The first abseil (below) was done on a shorter cliff. We started approximately 15 meters high. This was more of a training, so I get use to the feeling, practice the right position - legs wide open, straight as much as possible and keep as far as I can from the cliffs. The first abseil I was holing to the rope so hard, scared of letting go, that my hand was quite sore at the end, but there was no need for that. If you release the rope, it doesn't go as fast as I thought. I was afraid that if I let go too much I wouldn't be able to catch the rope again, but that wasn't the case. Don't worry. :-)
Once I got comfortable abseiling I could even look around and appreciate the gorgeous views I had. Stunning isn't it?
The second and the third abseil I did on the higher cliff, which was about 50 metres! Not bad for a beginner right? The second abseil I also did with an instructor, this time it was Kyle, who I would like to also thank for this amazing picture of me. Thanks a lot for capturing this special moment. The third and last abseil I did all by myself. No instructor, just me, the cliffs and the rope. :-)
Looking at these photos I am just thinking how did I actually managed this?! Being able to abseil all by myself after only two training sessions. And when I got down and looked up I was like WOW, this is 50 metres of flat rocks and I abseiled it all! And yes, those little dots on the horizon are people, that's how high it was!
After successfully getting to the ground I released the ropes, kept the carbines attached to my harness and started my way back up. It wasn't a proper path, there were a lot of stones and couple of larger rocks you had to climb over. Not that difficult, but good to keep in mind. At the end of this passage you have to go up approximately dozen of narrow and quite high steps, nothing to really hold on to. Even though I don't consider myself to be afraid of heights I didn't feel very comfortable.
All in all it was a great experience. Something I will definitely do again! I pushed my limits a bit further and proved myself that I'm capable of things I would never imagine.
Planning to give abseiling a try? The price for an individual is €35, but group discounts are available. You don't need to bring anything in particular. The helmet, harness and gloves will be provided by the organisers. I would just recommend comfortable sports wear and tennis shoes.
Below is part of our last weekend's abseiling group with Silvio and Kyle from Trifecta Adventure Malta.
Here is the exact location of the abseiling. However this is one of many places in Malta and Gozo that this activity is being organised. You can abseil in Wied Babu, Migrah Ferha or even Blue Grotto, which is on my list for the next time! Much more challenging than this one, as you will be most of the time in the air, but I would like to give it a go! :-)