Incident at Mgarr iX-Xini 30/08/2020

No doubt, most members of the climbing community were horrified to read or hear that on Sunday, two climbers were seriously injured in a climbing-related accident.

I have to admit when reading the first report about the incident in the Times of Malta that my reaction was to think that it was yet again, a case of non-climbers trying to scramble up the valley who got themselves into a bad situation which resulted in a fall.  Unfortunately, it transpired that this time, this was a “real” climbing accident involving sport climbers. 

I won’t go into the specifics of the accident or what happened at this point.  I don’t know all the facts myself.  But it is clear that for a sport climber to take a ground fall from a height of 12m or more, something seriously went wrong.  The system we use to protect ourselves from such falls is pretty solid and reliable, and in fact, sport climbing accidents are very very rare statistically, especially in Malta.

Best wishes go out from the MCC to both climbers involved in the accident in this difficult time.  We wish them a speedy and smooth recovery from their injuries, which thankfully, are not life-threatening.

A couple of years ago the MCC decided to launch an Incident reporting system whereby local climbers could report any accidents they had, and also report defective bolts or anchors which they might notice while at the crags.  The aim was and remains to compile a database of all climbing related accidents in Malta, and also to analyse each accident and see if we can learn from the mistakes that might have been made, then highlight them to the climbing community at large to prevent similar mistakes from happening in future.  It is not at all the aim to name and shame any individuals who might be involved.  Accidents happen.  People make mistakes, forget things, get distracted.  We should learn from this and not judge anyone.

With the above in mind, the MCC shall therefore be investigating this particular incident and will report back with findings with the hope that such an incident won’t happen again.

Finally, I would like to underline the fact that the MCC organises workshop and weekly meets with two main objectives in mind.  Firstly, to promote sport climbing here, but also and even more importantly, to promote GOOD PRACTISES.  The committee members are sometimes shocked when they see people equipped with climbing equipment attempting to climb routes without proper knowledge of how to correctly and safely use the equipment.  Back-clipping, Z-clipping, unsafe belaying, lowering off directly through the anchors, clipping bolts while holding onto the quickdraws, all the way up the route etc. etc.  we’ve seen it all. 

So stay safe out there, and if you haven’t been taught safe practises by an experienced climber, then hire a guide, come to a club meet or workshop, watch and learn from instructional videos…acquire the knowledge in some way, but DON’T climb without knowing exactly what you are doing.  Climbing is potentially dangerous and its inherent risks should be treated with respect.

Should you be involved in, or witness a climbing incident or see defective anchors or bolts please report them here: https://maltaclimbingclub.org/incident-report/

Thanks for your attention!

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