Route Development

The Kaka Maka Group is coordinating the development of routes on ‘Eua and providing you’re an experienced developer you’re welcome to help out.

Please note the following:

  1. The rock is on the King’s estate, so you’ll need to register for access.
  2. We’re guests, so be nice. See the climber’s code of conduct.
  3. Develop routes only at: Fangatave, Olu and Lakufa’anga.
  4. No routes to be developed on Maui’s Arch.
  5. Use titanium glue-in bolts with approved adhesive.
  6. Your bolt placements must keep climbers safe.
  7. Avoid tapu/sacred sites at Fangatave: solar farm; water tanks; pipeline.
  8. Develop so it’s possible to descend with a 60 metre rope.

We’d love you to get in touch to let us know your route development plans and may be able to sell you bolts we’ve bought in bulk, or give you more specific local info. Read on for more details…

Corrosion is crazy in the tropics

Stainless steel rapidly corrodes in limestone near the sea in the tropics, so drawing from experience in similar areas only titanium bolts have been used to develop climbing routes on ‘Eua Island.

The titanium bolts used to date are 10mm in diameter and feature rings formed by bending the rod into a “P” shape and welded shut. These P-bolts have notches on the shaft of the bolts which provides purchase for the adhesive, which is used to glue them into 12mm holes.

Read more about titanium and buying bolts here. 



It’s easy to bolt a route, but harder to bolt a route well.

Some things to keep in mind:

Selecting a line
  • Have a good look around before bolting
  • Top-rope to find best line, bolt and anchor positions.
  • Mark hole locations so you can find them again.
  • Measure distance to ground from anchors.
  • Would this climb be too close to another route?
  • Would this climb be worthwhile?
  • Would establishing this climb impact the environment?
  • Would it climb a weakness or line of least resistance?
Keeping it safe
  • Typically, a high 1st bolt and 2nd relatively close is safest, but should be safe without stick-clipping.
  • On multi-pitch belays however, keep 1st bolt low.
  • Clean off all loose rock possible.
  • Consider potential for falls onto ledges.
  • Protect the second climber on traverses.
  • If retreat is difficult, provide bolt to aid past crux.
Bolt placement
  • Try not to place a bolt in the middle of a crux.
  • Clipping the anchor should not be the crux.
  • Bolt solid rock, not fractured or flowstone rock.
  • Tap with hammer to test rock sounds solid.
  • Ensure carabiner gates won’t be opened by protruding rock.
  • Minimise rope drag. Imagine how the rope will run once quickdraws are clipped to bolts.
  • Avoid bolts in recessed areas, as increases rope drag.
  • Prevent the rope from rubbing against rough rock or delicate stalactites by placing a bolt out to one side.
  • Place to minimise friction when rope pulled from below.
  • Angle anchor bolts slightly towards each other.
  • To provide an easier, shorter variation, consider providing a lower set of anchors for long routes with a high crux.

Essential bolting equipment:

  • Hammer drill, charger, multiple batteries.
  • SDS 12mm drill bits (for installing 10mm bolts).
  • 12mm hole brushes.
  • Glue gun (caulking gun).
  • Glue cartridges (Hilti RE-500, HY-200 or 170).
  • Correct cartridge adapter (Red for Hilti 200; Black for 170 or 500).
  • Plenty of spare nozzles/mixers.
  • Surgical or latex gloves to wear while gluing.
  • Rags – for cleaning glue off rock.
  • Titanium bolts.
  • Static rope (80m).
  • Ascenders (a second ascender or Croll are better than using a GriGri).
  • Helmet.
  • Leather gloves.
  • Protective glasses.
  • Bolting bag for bolts, bits, nozzles etc.

All bolting equipment needs to be tethered to harness.

Recommended bolting equipment:

  • Trad rack & slings. For down-aiding.
  • Skyhooks. For holding yourself close to the rock when down-aiding or bolting.
  • Hammer or similar for removing loose rock.
  • Plastic bag – to squeeze excess glue into.
  • Bag of sand, for camouflaging epoxy.
  • Impact driver with 6-8mm coach screws & hangers. Great for aiding steep rock, top-roping and hanging from to place permanent bolts.
  • Spare drill, charger, glue gun.

The basic bolting process:

  1. Measure the depth of the hole required. Your drill bit should be marked accordingly.
  2. Drill the hole, keeping the angle 90 degrees to the surrounding rock surface.
  3. Notch. Drill a vertical notch below the hole in which to countersink the ring. This prevents bolts being torqued sideways, breaking the adhesive seal with the rock. Test the notch and hole with a bolt for fit.
  4. Clean. Use a pump and a brush and thoroughly clean the hole:
    – run the circular brush down the bore 3 or 4 times
    – blow out the hole with the pump
    – repeat
    – continue until rock dust ceases to be removed
  5. Glue. Pump the glue into the drilled hole starting right at the back (important), withdrawing the nozzle as you squeeze more glue into the hole. Avoid air bubbles. If new cartridge, squeeze a couple of pumps out first to ensure the adhesive is well mixed.
  6. Bolt. Push the bolt into the hole twisting and wiggling the shaft to expel any air. Ensure the notch is filled with glue and creates a good seal with the bolt.
  7. Clean. Wipe away excess glue with rag. Consider sprinkling glue with rock dust, to make it look more natural.

The approach taken to date for rap and belay anchors is to place two ring bolts at least 200 mm apart, with one about 100 mm higher than the other to prevent them twisting rope. To minimise wear, climbers should be encouraged to clip their own hardware to anchor bolts when lowering or top-roping.

In the future “rams horns” or similar may be manufactured from titanium for use on the most popular routes.

Suggested reading

Travelling with bolting stuff

Batteries. According to IATA guidelines and AirNZ:

  • Must be flown in carry on luggage.
  • Accepted by airlines only if less than 30% of full charge.
  • Terminals should be taped.
  • Airline approval is required if battery capacity greater than 100Wh*.

* Determine the watt-hours of your battery by multiplying its nominal voltage (V) and capacity in ampere-hours (Ah): Ah x V = Wh.
e.g. 18v x 5Ah = 96Wh


  • Pack in checked luggage.
  • “Hybrid” adhesives, such as Hilti HY-200, can be flown. You may want to pack product information with the adhesive, so customs officials can verify ok to transport.
  • Proper epoxies such as Hilti RE-500 v3 can not be flown and are likely to be confiscated if detected by bomb scanning equipment commonly used to assess checked in luggage. The reason is not that epoxies are flammable, but rather because they are corrosive. To get Hilti 500 to Tonga either ship, send with a yacht, or use a freight company such as DHL. Read the Material Safety Datasheet here.

Drills and other hardware

  • Pack in checked-in luggage. Airlines can and often do decide not to carry such hardware.

Luggage allowance
For some reason on flights from NZ to Tonga, Air NZ only allow you to book a single checked-in piece of luggage. Koru membership gets you another free bag. Apparently, if you turn up at the airport with a second bag you can buy it as an extra bag on the day you check-in, as opposed to having it count as excess luggage, but there is no guarantee..

Getting hardware to ‘Eua
You can take unlimited baggage on the ferry.

If flying to ‘Eua, the standard luggage allowance is just 10kg. If you book the more expensive “Web Regular” fare however you can take 23kg checked, plus 5kg carry on. This fare also allows you to re-book dates or get a refund.