Winter is here. As much as I’d hate to admit it, the Scottish weather is finally getting to me. I wake up at 7:30am and see dark clouds looming over the sky. I get to class or to the library by 9:00 to revise, and leave for home around 4 or 5pm, only to be welcomed by more darkness. And rain. Lots and lots of rain. The lack of sunshine and good weather has made me increasingly yearn for sunshine, for warmth, for outdoor activity, for outdoor sport climbing. Climbing in Thailand, to be specific.
Last winter, Angus and I escaped the coldness of our countries and headed to Thailand, where we spent 3 spectacular weeks slack-lining, motorbiking, diving, rock climbing, you name it, throughout the entire country. Needless to say, climbing in Thailand were my favorite parts of the trip. From spending Christmas at Crazy Horse Buttress in Chiang Mai to jumping off a 60+ foot cliff from a deep water solo in Railay, here is my guide to climbing in Thailand.
The Complete Guide to Climbing in Thailand:
1. Spend Christmas at Crazy Horse Buttress
What better way to spend your holidays than wearing Santa hats and scaling up a cave with stalactites? Rent a motorbike for really cheap and make your way about 45 minutes east of Chiang Mai. There, you will find over 200 sport routes of all levels, ranging from 5.6 to 5.13. The climbs are amazing and so varied, with plenty of sun and shade. In the morning, we would go to one section of the crag and once the sun came all the way up, would move to a shadier area. As mentioned earlier, we even got to climb in a cave, where I stemmed my way up a tufa. Since we had gone there Christmas day, we decided to get a little festive and brought our Santa hats and took a dorky little Christmas photo. I have no shame.
2. Sweat your balls off and get beta from a Thai local in Railay
Railay was THE place I was looking forward to most. All the pictures I’ve seen of the climbing there have looked marvelous. Real-life Railay did not disappoint. It is Southeast Asia’s mecca of climbing areas, known for their amazing multi-pitch sport routes, their limestone and proximity to the beach. It’s literally on the beach. It’s a great place for beginners or even first-time climbers, as there are tons of different climbing schools all around town. Each one has its own personality; it’s up to you which one you decide one! It’s also great for experienced climbers, as there are plenty of overhanging and balance-y routes that will give you a run for its money.
One of my favorite experiences here was when I tried to get beta from a Thai local. While I was struggling to stick a hard move on a climb, a Thai man started cheering me on and trying to give me beta. He began using his hands and feet to position himself on his chair to show me where my hands and feet were supposed to go. It was pretty hilarious to watch, and so I followed his beta even though I could not understand a word he was saying. To make matters better, once I made it to the top he clapped and cheered me on. I love Thai people.
3. Test your fear of heights while Deep Water Soloing (DWS)
The draw to this kind of climbing is scaling up a cliff without ropes or even without chalk. It’s just you, your shoes and the wall. Your safety net is the crashing of the waves below you. Because most DWS cliffs are only accessible by boat, we decided to book a day with Hot Rock Climbing School. For about $40, they gave us a pair of rental climbing shoes, a boat ride to the climbing area, a yummy lunch and a chance to snorkel around a “secret” area with tons of fish.
I would say that was a pretty great deal, even for my cheap self. Once you get to the rock, you can jump in the water and climb to your heart’s desire, er, or well, till your forearms pump out and you can’t go farther. The only way down is to jump into the sea!
What do you think about deep water soloing? Would you do it? What about climbing in Thailand, even if you are beginner? Comment and follow us below!