Tonga Kingdom Climbing Development Trip
It’s quite astonishing to admit, but just four months ago, our climbing ambassador to Tonga Kingdome, Ola Przybysz, didn’t even know that country like that even exist. Well, Tonga is definitely not the biggest, richest or popular country in the world but surpassingly those, situated in the middle of the South Pacific islands have quite a lot to offer to their visitors. Although, the handfuls of tourists are mainly coming for pristine beaches, coral reefs and of course (the main attraction) to swim with the gentle giants - humpback whales, this is not why Ola came to Tonga. She came for rock climbing adventure.
We like supporting original and interesting initiatives in climbing community, so when Ola told us about idea of bolting routes and introducing local youth to rock climbing, we were ‘all in’.
ARMBURY equipped Ola with ropes and other necessary equipment as well as bunch of titanium bolts, and in the mid-June, with very heavy backpack Ola arrived to Eua Island with idea to open new climbing routes, popularize eco - friendly tourism and to simply climb and spread passion about climbing on the Island.
After five days during which Ola, and her climbing partner Quentin Bernard, scouted every single crag, she finally found the amazing looking line that she wanted to bolt. The inspiring looking overhanging line was located on one of the recently discovered crags named Lost Wall. It looked hard, steep and long because as she said ‘It is important for me to open line that will be not only beautiful but also challenging for me’.
First step was to abseil down the ropes and try out the hardest looking sections of rock. This was necessary, to assess if the line is possible to climb as well as to get idea how to place the bolts.
Bolting new lines at the places like Tonga is not easy or inexpensive task. Because the rock is exposed to salty ocean breeze all the time and standard, steal bolts would get rusty very quick, the only way to bolt the routes safely is to use equipment made off titanium and glue them to the wall. This kind of gear will last for many generations of climbers, but is hard to place and is very, very expensive.
After finding the exact line it was time to bolt. The wall was, long. Around 90 meters that Ola and Quentin decided to separate into four pitches. Each of the pitches took one full day to bolt. The overhanging sections were the hardest but not the most dangerous. Sometimes climbers hanged themselves on small metal hooks hooked to the rocks to be able to bolt. Risking fall bolting this way is not a joke and even small injuries on the cliff can involve rescue action. On the last day of bolting, Quentin’s foot suddenly slipped. He impulsively grabbed rock and cut his finger open.
The accident was small and after proceeding first aid climbers decided to continue. Unfortunately climbing with freshly injured hand was not easy, so the pressure of leading was mostly on Ola. They geared up, took a moment watching the ocean below them and sent the route in a bit over two hours from bottom to top.
The route ‘ARMBURY’ is graded 18, 16, 25, 27 and so far, it is the hardest multipitch line on Eua Island.