Trip Start May 08, 2006
48Trip End May 06, 2007
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Where I stayed
We were excited. "A climbing mecca" they say, "completely surrounded and contained by limestone cliffs with its own beach, its own beach-side bars, and bungalows set in the heart of the jungle". The smiles were beaming as we (finally - after much fare searching by our bus driver) arrived in Ao Nang and got into the longboat that took us to our new home. We took stock of the beautiful surroundings and then made our way into the jungle where we found 'Dream Valley Bungalows', a nice little resort with fan bungalows in beautiful settings for 300 baht each. Well originally they were 400 but Carsten told them we would stay for a week and used his German charm to slice off the extra 100 they were asking for. We walked around the corner, and were presented with a lovely little wooden house on stilts with its own balcony
Anyway we got settled in, went to get some food, and checked out the climbing shops to see how much the gear was to rent. I wanted to buy some climbing shoes but all the Thais have such small feet that they had none in stock for an ogre like me. After a chilled out evening we went to bed and got up at 8am for a half-day of climbing.
All of the cliffs have set climbing routes complete with names and bolts in the wall to attach your quickdraws to
Top-rope is about as safe as you can get, as the rope is always tight and if the climber lets go of the rock then he won't fall more than a couple of inches. When lead climbing however, if you let go of the rock you will fall to wherever you clipped in the last bolt. A lot of the time this isn't a problem because the walls overhang and you just fall into open space, but sometimes a climb might not be so well protected and you could end up smashing yourself on the rocks... Which is nearly what happened to Carsten. Different climbs have different ratings depending on their difficulty. 4 and 5 are fairly easy, then you have 6a, 6a+, 6b and so on. From climbing various routes in Hat Ton Sai I was pretty much maxed out on a 6a. Carstens been climbing a fair bit longer so he maxes out on a 6a+. The climb we decided to do (before we knew our limits) was a 6a+, and a new route not even in the guide books
"Are you alright?!"
"Have you hit your head?"
Immediate relief. There was Carsten, visibly and understandably shaken, suspended upside-down from a bolt in a wall, and there was me, hanging about 3 metres from the ground and pissing myself with uncontrollable laughter
After some rest and nicotine he started to come round again and we collared a couple of passing Germans to climb up to the top for us. If we didn't top-rope the climb then the quickdraws would be stuck up there so the dude kindly obliged but still didn't clean up the quickdraws. One of us was going to have to get them. I got about halfway up without too many problems but the crux (the hard part of a climb) was too tough. I tried and tried but my forearms just would not work any more. Carsten was going to have to do it. Fair-play to the guy, after nearly cracking his head on a rock, he still got back up and did the whole thing which in my book is worthy of the title of "Legend".
The rest of the week we did a lot of eating, chilling, and a couple of 5 climbs as well which were loads of fun. The final highlight was a birthday party for 'Dickie' who was handing out flyers since it would co-incide with the closing of his bar for the season. He owned a fanstastic Shisha bar in the jungle, and a night of socialising, dancing and drinking ensued. What a week.