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Malta Has Some World-Class Climbing – Adam Ondra Just Sent Its Hardest Route

The Mediterranean island country houses over 1,500 routes, now including some Ondra first ascents

Photo by: Inigo Taylor

Adam Ondra just got home from a family vacation in Malta. While the goal was to rest and relax, he also squeezed in some climbing time, sending a bunch of hard routes and making several first ascents. According to his 8a.nu profile, he had four climbing days over a five-day period, sending a total of two 5.13b’s (both onsight), five 5.13c’s (all onsights), five 5.13d’s (three onsights), two 5.14a’s (one onsight), and one 5.14b.

A few of these climbs were first ascents. He made FAs of I Against Me 5.13c at Victoria Lines and Rasputin 5.13d at Mgarr ix-Xini. At the Melieha Cave, he made onsight-FAs of Fight Club 5.13d and Winds of Change 5.14a. He also made the first ascent of Ain’t Sane in the Membrane on his second go, grading the problem 5.14b—which is likely the hardest route in Malta.

Malta houses lots of beautiful climbing. In the 1960s and 70s, British climbers started the climbing scene by putting up several trad crags. Then, in the 1980s and 90s, climbers from elsewhere in Europe began developing modern sport climbing areas throughout the islands of Malta and Gozo. The country reportedly houses over 1,500 climbing routes, both sport and trad.

The rock is limestone, and climbing areas can be found on stunning sea cliffs as well as inland in valleys, caves, and high ridges. Multi-pitch routes, bouldering, and deep water soloing are scattered throughout the islands as well. The guidebook Sport Climbing in Malta and Gozo, written by Simon Alden, Jeffrey Camilleri, and Stevie Haston, can be found here.

Feature photo by Inigo Taylor of Andy Hooper on “Clawfinger” 5.12b/c at Fomm ir-Rih Bay, Malta.

Lead photo: Inigo Taylor