Malta is nicknamed ‘the Rock’ by locals. And for good reason. Staggeringly high cliffs, inland escarpments and natural fault lines, all against a background of open sky and sea. Rock climbing in Malta has traditionally not been top of the sport’s scene, but things are changing. Malta is actaully a climber’s paradise. Despite our topography, we’re more known as a diver or sailor’s paradise. But climbing is a niche sport on the up.
We asked Andrew Warrington, President of Malta Rock Climbing Club (MRCC), the islands’ longest-established group, to give the low-down on what climbing Malta is all about. If you’re on holiday here and want a quick climb, the club is open to guests and can provide equipment, see details below. If you’re local and not tried the sport, read this, be inspired to take up the challenge and enjoy a new social life too!
A Climber’s View
Forget congested crags and waiting in line to climb the classics; forget the slippery, worn holds of the most popular climbing areas; imagine climbs that have a walk-in measured in minutes rather than hours; dream of ending a day of fantastic climbing with a quick, refreshing swim and then a beer and a plate of pasta at sundown. Malta offers not only climbing but a typical Mediterranean break as well. Two or more holidays in one then.
Malta’s three main islands – Malta itself; Gozo, the sister island; and the islet of Comino in between – are extensively faulted and rugged, the coastline guarded by cliffs for roughly 50% of its length. Climbs have been put up on all three islands, allowing the rock climber to visit the most remote and scenic spots of the archipelago while practising their favourite sport.
Relatively undiscovered, Malta has only recently become a destination of choice for climbers looking for new territories to explore. The islands are also unique among climbing destinations for a number of reasons: The rock is of very high quality, offering excellent friction and holds. Climbing in Malta also offers every form of the sport within a very small area. The island has over 1300 recorded climbs in 25 climbing areas spread all round the islands. There are single-pitch climbs, multi-pitch climbs, seacliff climbing, sheltered climbing in inland valleys and escarpments, bouldering, Deep Water Soloing (DWS) and sea-level traversing. It offers both bolted climbs and traditionally protected rock climbs so that anyone can enjoy the climbing here, whether they prefer to climb with the traditional climbing ethic or the bolting ethic.
Malta is a year-round climbing destination with autumn and spring the most pleasant times to climb because the weather is temperate and warm. It is possible to climb throughout the summer months if you opt for early starts and evenings and/or choose shady crags or climb just above the sea so that a fall brings pleasant relief with a splash into the cool waters below!
About the Club
The Malta Rock Climbing Club brings together the most talented and experienced climbers on the islands. It is responsible for equipping the cliffs with safety equipment in a joint project with the Malta Tourism Authority. We also work to ensure safe access to the cliffs and organise rope safety courses as well as lobby the authorities to provide the best possible facilities for the climbing community.
How to get started climbing Malta makes an ideal venue for both experienced climbers and complete beginners. At MRCC, we organise beginners’ taster sessions for locals and visitors. We are very happy to have newcomers join us, and any level of experience is OK. Our climbing day is Sunday morning but we can arrange for guiding during the week at a charge. Beginners can take a taster session for around €50 per person, which includes all safety equipment and instruction. We also offer day and half-day excursions. Alternatively, groups can book a 4-day course that covers instruction in rope safety for rock climbing and abseiling, techniques for moving over rock, safe ascent and descent from a climb and belaying a buddy.
The experienced climber has a wealth of climbing options to choose from. You purchase ‘Malta Rock Climbing – The Comprehensive Guide‘, which lists all the climbs in the Maltese Islands and how to reach them. It gives detailed information about the best times to visit, the best places to climb and indicates which climbs are fully bolted and which require traditional equipment to protect. Members of the MRCC are always happy to meet visiting climbers and often invite them out to climb with them – the local climbing community is very small and community spirited and as climbers we relish the opportunity to share our knowledge of the hidden treasures that our cliffs have to offer.
Malta Rock Climbing Club
Browse our site,Climbmalta.com where we’ve information to help both beginners and experienced climbers. Have a look through ‘Malta Rock Climbing – the Comprehensive Guide‘ Contact us if you’ve any queries or need help planning your climbs.
Photos: courtesy Malta Rock Climbing Club.