It’s been years since the MRCC last visited Wied Qirda, and by the looks of it not many others have been here either. We found the valley access by car has become a little better: it is possible to drive a little further in towards the crags, though this is not really necessary. The crags on the other hand are much more difficult to reach.
The valley is an unusual place. It is a little oasis of tranquility right slap bang in the middle of the Qormi/Luqa/Żebbuġ conurbation. Just a couple of minutes off the insanely busy Qormi-Luqa road, there is this isolated valley, completely cut off from the madding crowd and sporting no less than 33 climbs. Though these climbs are not very hard or high, they do make for a very pleasant afternoon of climbing right in the centre of the island.
All the routes here are currently trad climbs. The hardest are protected with intermittent bolts at the cruxes. And though the grades are not too hard, the routes are by no means walkovers.
The morning’s activity was started by Andrew Warrington leading Curse of the Mummy Direct E2 5b (6b). This was then followed by Irene, our Swiss guest of the morning, and Miriam Gauci. Kurt Caligari warmed up on The French Connection HS 4c with Duncan Steele. Meanwhile, Andrew suitably attired in old jeans and gardening gloves, busied himself bushwhacking the brambles and reeds that have completely choked all access to the right hand side of the Sphinx Buttress, succeeding eventually to reach the crag and clear the base all the way to The Maltese Connection.
Andrew then tied back in and led Sphinx RH E1 5a, a 3-star classic which styles a difficult looking roof that is actually easy if you have the guts to commit, and gear is plentiful. As the others had their own gos at the Sphinx, Andrew then top roped Inscrutable Smile E3 5c with an ulterior motive in mind – to identify the ideal spot for a LO on this and the other two climbs of the day! This spot is notorious for not having anywhere safe to tie on close to the edge so LOs are important and much needed.
With the LO stations identified and the morning coming to an end, Andrew and Duncan got down to some MTA-MRCC Bolting Project work. They set up abseil ropes, marked the spots and got down to drilling and fixing three important LOs. With rain clouds threatening to disrupt the work, the boys stayed focused and got the job done. Curse of the Mummy and Inscrutable Smile now both have snap-link LOs while Sphinx RH has a chain abseil point at the top. All three are marked with red tape to indicate that the LOs have not been tested. If you are the first to use them, please back them up until you have weighted them to ensure all is in order. Once you are sure that it is, then please remove the red tape, indicating that they have been tested and are good to be used.
Everyone found the valley a great place to climb, if only the brambles were gone and access to the climbs easier. We will be going back there over the next few weeks to install more LOs, clear more brambles and establish some sport routes to improve the valley’s attractions for the local climbing community.