17 Down Under:
17 DOWN UNDER. "A celebration of moderate grade climbing in Victoria". 184 pages. 285 images. Father & son team, Steve & John Morris, embark on a journey to climb and photograph 50 of the best rock climbs in Victoria, grade 17 & under. Inc bookmark $50.00
This should get you trigger-happy developers salivating again... Got an email in the Rockies inbox regarding developing climbing in Tonga. I'll post it verbatim.
> I’m contacting you from Tonga Business Enterprise Centre (TBEC) in Nuku’alofa, Tonga. We have a client who is
> interested in starting climbing routes for tourists but does not have any experience. Tonga is a developing country
> in the South Pacific. The southern island of ‘Eua has beautiful cliffs that we believe would attract climbers.
> We are looking for someone who would be able to establish routes, establish and teach safety procedures and
> climbing techniques, set up maintenance schedules and train locals for sustainability. Ideally, this person would be
> able to stay for 6-9 months. There is very little funding for this project so we would need a volunteer. Assistance
> could be given for accommodation.
> If you know anyone who is interested, please let me know.
> Thank you for your assistance,
> (contact details attached)
Anybody who is genuinely interested I can forward you the contact details. I don't know if japosc is still there and what connection he has with this email.
I worked as a volunteer in the Pacific for 2 years and will happily regale you with tales of life working in this part of the world (didn't work in Tonga per se but I've traveled through there too). So long as you have realistic expectations of what you want to achieve you could have a lot of fun over there. There are several AusAid-funded organisations that will help you get there, and help provide a framework to structure what you do. I'd recommend that approach if you haven't worked as a volunteer in a developing country before. Going direct has initial appeal for the liberty of your agenda, but these approaches invariably twist and deform into something else you may or may not like. The Aus-aid programs can also offer access to funding, support and referral.
I went to Tonga last September and loved it. Didn't do any climbing but did try (admittedly half-heartedly).
We stayed mostly in Ha'apai and Vava'u and unfortunately didn't see 'Eua.
Ha'apai is made up of coral islands (flat) except Tofua and Kao which are volcanoes and very hard to reach without your own boat. I highly recommend staying a few nights on Uoleva if you're looking for idyllic South Pacific remoteness on an almost deserted island. If you go swimming with the humpbacks, do it in Ha'apai and avoid the relative circus of Vava'u.
Vava'u is comparatively not flat. The rock in Vava'u is predominantly extremely sharp limestone (presumably very young with minimal weathering to the point that limestone is probably a misnomer). We rented kayaks and tried to find some DWS spots (even brought our shoes and chalkbags) on and around Otea island but the rock was just too sharp... basically like climbing on coral fragments.
Tongatapu probably doesn't have any climbing (and is best avoided anyway). The Niuas (far north remote islands), who knows?!
So I'd say your best bet is trad climbing on 'Eua. It would definitely be on the adventurous end of the climbing spectrum. The only info I could find was a few posts around the web from that former US Peace Corps volunteer.
Yeah I have climbed in Tonga, on 'Eua, Lokupo Beach to be exact. I was staying at Taina's place back in 2003 with my missus. We carried full gear across the island to explore the cliffs that we'd seen on maps. When we got there we couldn't find anything small enough on the major cliffs for our limited ropes so we climbed on a large lump of limestone down at almost sea level at the back of the beach. Down there you could have been transported back a million years. What a place. If you have time, money and inclination there is undoubtedly masses of potential for sport climbing on 'Eua but you will see a lot of very sharp rock unsuitable for climbing too. It would be great to see some development of this place beyond our web musings over the years. I will try to dig out some images.