Directly after our spectacular two days of paddling the islands of the southern Thailand, we set off for some rock climbing in Krabi. Krabi is considered one of the best locations on earth to sport climb and we are spending the next three days with Hot Rocks Climbing School. Railay, Ton Sai and Phra Nang are the main climbing areas of Krabi, but recently shops have started doing deep water soloing in surrounding islands which looks like a a thrill of a lifetime or a terrifying experience depending on how you look at it.
The magnificent karst formations jut out of the Andaman Sea creating the perfect location for climbers seeking thousands of bolted routes.
It was 11 years ago that we first came to Thailand and made a b-line directly to Railay in Krabi to learn to climb.
We were hooked and took up rock climbing for a couple of years in Canada and even returned to Thailand to climb again. With all the traveling we have done lately, we haven’t had the chance to keep it up, so a three day refresher course was exactly what we needed to get ourselves back on track.
Staying in Ao Nang at the fabulous Ao Nang Paradise, we checked into the poolside suite to relax before our day at the crag. It was 8:30 am sharp that Sarah from Hot Rocks picked us up to send us off on our 15 minute longtail boat ride to Railay. Hot Rocks offers free shuttle from Ao Nang to Railay when taking a climbing course. While I would recommend staying on Railay or on the more affordable Ton Sai Beach, most people stay in the more developed Ao Nang on the mainland with more choices of accommodation and dining.
Our guide Toto has been working in Krabi for several years and spends his free time rebolting the old routes that have been here since King the Founder of King Klimbers explored the area, starting climbing and bolting routes and made Krabi famous to climbers all around the world. They are doing a big push to rebolt the old routes around the island and fixing them with stronger titanium bolts to make climbing safer for all.
We were in excellent hands. Toto talked with us about our skills and what we were looking to get out of climbing with him. What I liked about Hot Rocks was that both Sarah and Toto made sure to get a clear picture of what we wanted out of the next three days. We let them know that we used to climb quite a bit, but are rusty and wanted to get back into lead climbing. It was a far cry from our climbing experience in China.
We set out to the crag where Toto assessed our skills. We already knew how to belay, climb and tie in to the rope, so it was a quick launch directly into climbing.
We belayed Toto as he climbed effortlessly up an easy route to set up our top rope anchors. He did this a few times throughout the morning to allow us to do some fun climbs of varying degree and get back into the feel of climbing again. The great thing about top rope climbing is you don’t have to worry about falling. The rope is secured to an anchor at the top and all you have to do is tie yourself onto the rope, have fun and climb up the rock face.
We spent the morning getting a feel for climbing again and working on trying to remember our technique. It all came back, but our stamina ran out quickly. Climbing uses different muscles than you are used to and it wasn’t long until our forearms were aching.
After spending the morning climbing, we made our way to Diamond Cave Wall after lunch. Here we went over our lead climbing skills.
Lead climbing is climbing up a route with your rope attached to your harness. As you ascend, you clip the rope into anchors spaced throughout the rockface. The climber carries quick draws that are clipped into anchors that are bolted to into the rock up the route. He then clips the rope into the other end of the quick draw. Bolts are spaced a few meters apart and as you carry up the climbing rope you clip it into each anchor making protection for yourself as you climb up. The person belaying at the bottom then pulls the rope tight which keeps you from falling too far.
It all came back to us in no time and it wasn’t long before we were doing some practice lead climbs. The way you practice leading is to climb on top rope, while pulling up another rope to simulate lead climbing. We climbed a few routes this way. Dave and I would belay on the lead climbing rope while Toto belayed with the top rope. He kept the rope very loose however so that if we did fall we would fall a couple of meters like we are on a lead rope and not a tight top rope.
It was a super afternoon. By the time 6:00 came around we were ready to finish for the night. Climbing takes a lot out of you and we needed a rest for the next day. In another 14 hours, we would be back at the crag starting the day all over again.
- A 3 day climbing course costs 6000 bought – $200 USD
- They also offer half day and full day courses starting at 1000 baht
- Includes gear, guide, and lessons as well as water and snacks.
Other posts from Dave and Debs Adventures in Thailand