MTA Rebolting Project – Mellieħa Cave

The club bolting team recently visited Il-Latnija in Mellieħa to carry out some much needed repair work as part of the MTA Titanium rebolting project. Il-Latnija, or Mellieħa Cave (sometimes just THE Cave), is a sinkhole on the North West end of the island that features some of the hardest climbs on the island.

The team carried out repair work on a couple of routes equipped by visiting Spanish climbers using galvanised steel bolts – a big no-no on the Maltese islands due to our proximity to the sea. These routes are now re-equipped entirely with Titanium protection bolts and ring lower offs, which means they should last a good 50 years.

The work was not limited to replacing galvanised steel bolts – the humid environment in the cave, the seepage of rainwater through the rock and proximity to the sea create a very corrosive environment where even marine stainless steel bolts can corrode. And sometimes bolts can be in perfect condition but still need to be replaced. Expansion bolts, particularly those that come under a lot of force from falls or from torquing on meandering routes, tend to come loose when placed in limestone. This was the case with repair work carried out on Flutterby and Magnetic Fields.

Another route that was brought back from the dead ( 😛 ) is Resurrection (6b/+). This route was originally led as a trad route, placing slings on lead, by Andrew Hooper. It takes an unlikely path through slightly overhanging, sometimes chossy rock with big pockets and then traverses under a massive tufa filled roof. The route’s two original slings (that can still hold body weight!) have been replaced with four protection bolts and a titanium lower off. The route is definitely not for the faint-hearted – the equippers tried to make the route as safe as possible whilst still respecting the adventurous nature of the first ascent.

The work carried out didn’t just involve placing bolts in the rock – old bolts were removed from routes that have been reequipped over the past months, and once most of the gluing work had been done the team took the time to collect some rubbish from the cave – two big black bags full!

The Malta Climbing Club would like to thank all those who helped out in big and small doses, giving up their Sunday to do some productive work for the climbing community. In alphabetical order: Elena Barresi, Jeffrey Camilleri, Daniel De Padua, Massimo Francese, Diogo Lapa, Arpad Vas, and from the MCC committee: Simon Alden, Johann Briffa, Stephen Farrugia.

If you would like to lend a hand in future bolting and repair activities please contact the club – all help is welcome. To donate to the Bolt Fund follow the link at the top of the page.

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