Stopover 01/3

Makatea: climbing spotlight

2 November 2020

As the release of the movie “Makatea” is fast approaching, we thought to write an article on everything you need to know about climbing on Makatea: from the quality of the rock to the local actors looking after the crags on the island. 


The origins of the project

During their 7-year world trip across the Arctic, Antarctica and the pacific, Maewan’s team discovered Makatea island in September 2018. Makatea is a rocky atoll in the Tuamotu archipelago, located in French Polynesia. It used to be the motor of the Polynesian economy thanks to its heavy phosphate exploitation. However, in the 60s the mine closed and the local population dropped from 4000 residents to 60! Today, those who stayed are mobilising around eco-tourism and sport for the sustainable development of their island.


The objective of the Makatea project is to support the local community in the development of vertical sports activities, in complete safety and respect for the environment.


Potential for climbing 

The island is covered with top-quality limestone, a natural paradise for climbers hungry for sport climbing in a beautiful setting. When we saw the island for the first time in 2018, we immediately started discussions with local authorities and the climbing club Makatea Escalade to kick-off the project. A year later, with the support of the outdoor brands Petzl and Arc’teryx, we returned to the island with a team of photographers, educators, video-makers, and, obviously, climbers to launch the Makatea project.


Bolting the routes

A team of nine professional athletes (Marcos Costa, Aymeric Clouet, Charlotte Durif, Joseph Grierson, Solenne Piret, Bernd Schlögl, Michael Schreiber, Jonathan Siegrist) coordinated by Nica Caprez was in charge of the route development.

For a month, they bolted a total of 60 pitches, that in addition to the existing 45 routes on the island, add-up to over 105 routes across 11 crags. Grades start from F3b and go all the way up to F8b+, catering to the sending ambitions of beginners and pro climbers alike.


All the anchors are TITAN, whereas bolts are A4 collinox and Petzl’s expansions bolts, kindly donated by the Petzl Foundation.

Charlotte Durif’s vlog of the bolting action 


The Climbing Guide

A journalist (Guillaume Vallot) was in charge of creating the 56-page illustrated climbing guide. In it, you will find all the information for accessing and climbing at the crags, the via ferrata, the via souterana and the historical hikes on the island. A bonus section for diving lovers has also been added. 

Good practices, necessary precautions, and rescue advice have also been included, without forgetting advice on practicing outdoor sports while respecting our playing ground. We also included an eco-tourist map.



How to get on the island: Climbing in a tropical environment requires some precautions. The first one is to contact the Makatea Climbing association that manages climbing on the island before your arrival. Please do warn them in advance, so they can help you with the transport (from Tahiti) and in organising your stay. Contacts:

Facebook : Makatea Escalade

Best season to climb: All year around. The different orientations of the crags allow you to always find some shady rocks in every season and time of the day.


What to eat: You can’t leave the island without having tried the local Kaveua, a fresh crab delicacy.


A special thanks to Acropol Tahiti and Makatea Escalade, who are responsible for developing and maintaining the beautiful crags on the island, as well as initiating the local youth to climbing and safety measures to (re)discover the island’s beauty through verticality. Climb on!


The movie “Makatea” directed by Guillaume Broust captures this adventure through the eyes of those who lived it: subscribe to our Youtube channel to not miss the release on the 10th of December!

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