Climbing the Babu Multi-Pitches

 

If you’ve been wondering at the relative silence on this blog over the past couple weeks, this is why. The weather has been mostly good, if a bit colder than usual, so I’ve been doing as much climbing as I can (and as my partners’ schedules allow). Highlights include sending two trad routes I had not done before, and separately introducing a couple friends to multi-pitch climbing. With their permission, I’m sharing a few photos we took on the respective occasions.

Both Matrix and Stefano have been climbing for about a year, and competent leaders, but had never done a multi-pitch route. While there aren’t many such routes here in Malta, there are a few bolted routes in the lower grades. They’re great fun, and perfect for introducing climbers to multi-pitch. In this case, we headed out to Wied Babu, walked (and scrambled) all the way down to the zawn, and set up at the base of a couple routes bolted by the Italian Military Alpine School in the mid-1990’s. They’re largely variations of trad routes set up by the Royal Marine Commandos a few decades earlier. At the base, I showed them how to set up an anchor at the stance and belay a second from above, then we went through the protocol and practised the process. In each case, they led the first pitch, then we switched lead for the rest of the climb. Eventually, of course, we had to get back down, which involved a sequence of three abseils.

The routes are fun, in fantastic surroundings, and easy enough for anyone who climbs regularly. Bolting, however, is not that great. On both routes we did, the first pitch is reasonable, though with some space between bolts where the going is easy. The second pitch is unbolted on one route, and has only a single bolt on the other. Sure, it’s just a scramble really, but care should be taken. The third pitch is where it gets interesting. On the first route, several bolts are rotten, and there’s a section with way too much space between bolts (so much that it’s easy to lose your way if you haven’t done this before). Knowing this, I carried some trad gear with me, and treated the route as mixed.

Unusually, the photos include some of me, or with me visible. In one case I had my EOS M5, while in the other, just my mobile. As you can probably tell, I’m really not used to taking selfies. And with that, I wish you all the best for this New Year!

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