Climbing in Charlier, Haiti - Whiteman's Scourge
IÂve been involved with a non-profit organization called Help for the Children (helpforthechildrenhaiti.org) down in Charlier, Haiti, where our goal is to construct a compound that includes a kindergarten, primary school, high school and orphanage. IÂve made two trips down now and on the second trip, I managed to convince a group of Coloradans to join me last January. Needless to say, on our down time from installing a 4 foot diameter concrete pipe into a roadway by hand, we were finding any way to enjoy our beautiful surroundings. On one of our last days there our hosts took us up to what they called the Headwaters for a picnic. Other groups had already been up there, so we knew that there might be the opportunity to get some climbing in and we came prepared with our climbing shoes.
We found beautiful limestone walls, although covered in a significant amount of vegetation. I believe these cliffs are nick-named WhitemanÂs Scourge. ThereÂs some story that two Frenchmen were attempting to gather some honey from a beeÂs hive at the top of the cliff and things didnÂt end well for them.
Limestone wall (1)
Limestone wall (2)
Being mostly sport climbers in the group, we were a little hesitant to set up and clean a route on the taller walls and only had limited time, so we settled for some shallow water bouldering.
Shallow water bouldering (1)
Shallow water bouldering (2)
As an off shoot from Help for the Children, a few of us from Denver have been throwing around the idea of starting up some type of adventure travel to Haiti as a way to promote tourism and boost their economy. This type of project could create jobs in nearby towns (guides, food, and places to stay), where almost everyone is unemployed. And as an added bonus, we already have contacts in Charlier we trust. Considering the potential benefit to the surrounding towns, I would love the thought of being able to develop an area like this, although this area might not be the perfect spot (since it might require one serious weed wacker and waders for your belayer?) and my immediate group of friends and I have no experience establishing routes. If a few of us do decide to commit to working on this side project, we could potentially raise funds for establishing these areas. IÂd welcome peopleÂs comments and thoughts (be gentle). And I am also well aware that we would need to address access issues and landownership on the front side (also trash management, which is a huge problem there).
And FYI, this is what obsession looks like for a rock climber in Haiti (just had to share):
Hey I'm a bit late here but I'm heading to Haiti next month to tour the south coast by motorcycle. I really liked what you said about starting some sort of adventure travel industry there. I have been discouraged so much from doing this trip and I just want to yell at people that staying in some fenced off resort is not the way to experience this country. I think the kind of tourism that allows the culture and people to continue living the way they are is what Haiti needs. It is such a gem because it's probably the only place in the Caribbean left that hasn't just given everything away by catering to rich foreigners that just want to feel at home. At the same time the country is struggling and tourism could be a great way to bring in money.