Published: December 6th 2010December 6th 2010
So we stayed another week in Krabi and have decided to stay put until we need to go back to Bangkok for our flight out to Bali. It’s nice and relaxed here and after the last week we need a week to recover!! Whilst I was diving to the depths Mark was looking into the Rock Climbing on Railay. It is world renowned for its climbing and although Railay is not an island it can only be reached by boat. So as this is something Mark would like to carry on with when we return home he decided to look into the 3 day course rather than just a one day taster. So after looking into it he decided to go on the course with a private instructor - less people means more climbs and the chance to go over things a bit more! I was going to be more than happy to pack him off each morning and listen to what he’d done when he returned in the evening - though this was not to be!! As it turned out it was the same price for the guide if one of us or both of us did the course. So
never one to back out of an adventure I limbered up and signed up for the course alongside him.
It was an even earlier pick up of 7.30 AM (I had to get up the same time as I would have done for work!!), and in the pouring rain we set off to Ao Nang for the other pick ups before getting to the pier at Ao Nammao for the boat ride to Railay. We would have been earlier except we were all kept waiting by a family at one of the posh resorts in Ao Nang who felt it necessary to be half hour late for their pick up time and complain about the weather!!
So arriving at Railay we docked way out in the water as that was as close into the beach as the long tail boat could get and waded our way through the water and the rain. We got to the shop and were fitted out with our harnesses, chalk bags and shoes and given water for the day. Then signed the insurance forms and got introduced to our instructor. We then headed off a little nervously into the rain and along Railay East
beach until we reached the limestone cliffs at the other end. We were soon asked about our climbing experience and when we told our instructor very little (Keely) and none (Mark) he looked a little worried about what he had gotten himself into for the next three days!! First of all we stopped in a little hut so we could learn how to belay (take the rope safely depending on the movements of the climber) so Tik (our instructor ) knew we could at least belay him to the top safely! So onto our first climb - it was only a short one but made more difficult by the rain - though the way the instructors ‘walk’ up the cliffs you’d think they were walking up a hill - its amazing!
Mark and I both made it safely to the top of our first climb and trusted each other enough to let the other one belay for them - remember if the climber falls, it’s the belayers responsibility to have the rope tight enough so they don’t fall very far!! We moved on to a slightly harder climb which Mark appeared to breeze up, however I didn’t. There was
one particular part that I was finding particularly hard and after the fourth time of losing my grip in the rain decided it was time to head back down to earth. 2 more climbs headed the same way for me as I just couldn’t seem to find the grip or the strength in my arms I’d only made one out of the four anchors for that morning. Mark however was a different story. He made each of the climbs that I hadn’t but was then pushed a little harder by Tik. He was asked to do the 30 meter climb which got tougher the higher you got and true to form, Mark made it all the way to the top and beyond the anchor to sit in the cave that was there!! After all the exertion - both physical and mental - it was time for lunch. Expecting a rice box again, as we had been given on previous Day trips, we were pleasantly surprised to be handed a short menu to choose from. This order was then placed with the restaurant next to the climb shop and we sat in comfort to eat lunch. Knowing we were English Tik
Climbing Day 1
Mark near the top - just follow the pink rope past the guy in blue and all the way to the top.
then ordered a nice pot of tea for us to relax with before starting the afternoons climbs!! Thankfully by the time we had finished lunch and our lovely tea (it was very much needed) along with part of a coconut they had delivered to the wrong table (oops) we were glad to discover that the rain had cleared up and the sun had come out. That was until we did the next two climbs!! We had walked across the island to Phranang beach to climb some other routes. There were a few more spectators here as this is one of the main tourist beaches on the island so apparently I appear in some German photographs!! In keeping with the mornings routine Mark did the climb first and I followed - usually not making it to the top. So for moral support I decided I would take Eddy with me - which seemed to work as I made it to the top with only one slip!! It helped that Tik had left all the carabineers in attached and so I had to collect them all! Mark was then given the next climb over which involved a bit more upper body work
at the top of the climb and even he slipped once during this climb. However, due to the sunshine, Marks glasses took a tumble down the rock as he was sweating so much they slid off his head - though they did survive with only minor damage to the frames and no scratches on the lenses! Tik obviously had a good understanding of our abilities as he didn’t make me climb that one and took us back round to tackle one of the climbs I had failed in the morning. He was totally convinced that Mark had climbed before despite us telling him that Mark has no rock climbing experience whatsoever!! So with Eddy securely attached to my harness we headed back to the cliffs from the morning for me to attempt one of the failed climbs. Eddy must have been my lucky charm as with a dryer wall and a bit more determination I made it up the wall!! I was also still taking out the carabineers which seemed to focus my attention on getting to the next clip rather than blindly heading to the top! However, I had failed to realise that Tik was getting us ready to
Climbing Day 1
Nearing the cave
do lead climbing on the second day which involves putting all the carabineers into the bolts and climbing up without a top safety rope - arrrrghhhh!!
So after a little dutch courage the night before we headed back of to Railay in the same pick up truck from the first day and headed to pick up the same family that were half hour late from the day before!! Luckily this time they were only 5 minutes late so all was forgiven - sort of. We headed off to Railay on the long tail boat and same as yesterday had to wade through the waters as it was low tide and the boats couldn’t get any closer. So me and Mark duely headed off to the shop without turning back to see if the family were behind us. It wasn’t until lunchtime when we hadn’t seen them around the rocks and they weren’t in the restaurant that we began to wonder what had happened to them Add to this the fact that ‘mom’ had been complaining that they had to wade through the water we guessed that they had decided to turn back around on the boat and head back
to their hotel - so they had on very expensive boat ride as they had paid for a private guide for the day!! We got on with our climbing and true to his word Tik taught us how to lead climb. Lead climbing is when you go and hang the rope through the anchor so your fellow climbers may top rope climb safely. Firstly we were taught how to tie onto the anchor and make ourselves safe before securing the rope and then untying the rope from our harness and placing it through the anchor before tying it too our harness again - all sounds very complicated but makes sense when you think about it really hard!! This was all taught at an anchor only a step off the ground so you still had to do everything correctly or you would fall a very short way. Then we were taught how to clip the carabineers into the bolts and ropes that are already fixed onto the wall and place your climbing rope into them. As you go up these are the only thing stopping you from falling right to the ground so it was worth all the practice we could
get!! When lead climbing you are fixed at various points by the carabineers as you head higher up the rock to stop you falling to the floor. However, because once you hook the rope into a carabineer you then climb pass that point you still have a fall of a few feet (max of 16ft) before the rope and belay kick in - also if your belayer isn’t paying attention you will fall a little further!! So the first lead climb we did was a bit of a cheat as we did so with a top rope as well - though this was left slack so we would have the sensation of falling if we did in fact fall!! After this came the real lead climb. However, instead of being really nice to us and allowing us to climb the same bit of rock we had under a top rope safety we had to climb a different route! Mark went first and completed it with ease, if a little shaky at first - though I’m not sure who was more nervous, Mark going up or me watching him from the ground! Then it was my turn, with Eddy safely attached
as my buddy we headed up the rock. I was a lot more shaky and although I didn’t slip at all I had to have two rest stops along the way. Once I had clipped into the wall I asked Tik to take the tension on the rope and then sat back in my harness allowing my hands to rest and work out my next move. At a snails pace me and Eddy made it to the top and attached ourselves quickly to the anchor with the safety sling. I then realised I didn’t have a carabineer to secure the rope to myself so that it didn’t fall!! A quick shout down to Tik gave me the simple answer - tie it to the safety sling - that I should have been able to think of myself!! So alls well and I headed back down the wall and put my feet safely back on the floor with a huge sigh of relief. After a very delicious lunch and tea we headed back out onto the rocks to do another lead climb. Tik pushed Mark and made him lead a long climb (about 28 meters high) that was quite tough at
Climbing Day 1
With my companion Eddy
the top. Though really nervous you would never have noticed it in the way Mark climbed, except for having a rest near the top in order to work out the best route it was smooth climbing all the way to the top for Mark. Realising I wasn’t as confident and knowing this particular route had caused me problems the day before Tik asked if I would like to top rope climb instead - so I did!! Though he did plan one more lead climb for us both - mine a short and relatively easy one - Marks the 30 + meter climb he had top roped the day before. Before that though Tik wanted to show us what to do if you couldn’t reach the top of the lead climb and kept finding yourself falling or stuck at a certain place. So we learnt how to rappel ourselves down the rock using just the bolts on the wall and no anchor. However, after spending another half hour waiting for routes to become clear and it approaching the 3.30 PM mark on the second day we were both shattered and so whilst Tik was waiting and practising his bouldering skills with
some fellow instructors we sneakily took off our harnesses - when he noticed he gave us a very questioning look. After explaining we were dead and had little feeling left in our arms and shoulders he was happy for us to call it a day!
The next day was our rest day, and a well deserved one at that!! We did little except sleep, eat and rest at the guesthouse in an attempt to get our hands, shoulders and arms to respond and stop hurting. I was also nursing two very bruised knees! However, a day of well earned rest was still followed by the knowledge that we had more climbing and a multipitch climb to learn. This is where you have to climb the rock in stages so one of you belays from the top of the climb! So the day after we were dutifully awaiting our pick up at 7.30 AM with the weather looking a little bleak. On the boat over to Railay the heavens opened and the rain didn’t stop. We managed one climb in the morning, Mark did the lead climb to put the top rope up for me to use. After that, Tik
decided it was too wet for us to do any more lead climbs so we took shelter in the nearby coffee house where I made friends with a cat and Mark had a freshly filtered coffee. After about an hour of trying to wait out the rain we disappointedly admitted defeat and headed back to the climbing shop and restaurant to await the midday boat back to Krabi. Expecting a possible half day extra the following day and maybe having to pay a little extra we awaited news from the boss at King Climbers to let us know what would happen. While waiting we were treated to a lovely lunch of coconut steamed rice with chicken and soup. We were then told that we would be picked up the following morning the same as usual and it was a nice surprise to be told we would have a full days climbing for no extra charge despite the extra pick up, drop off and lunch that was provided for us. So we headed on the boat back towards Krabi. Despite the rain easing it never really stopped the entire day so we managed to get an extra day to rest our
aching bones and muscles.
So to the last day of our course (again!). The day was much clearer but without too much sun, which we were both glad about. The first order of the day was to get a lead climb in just so we remembered what we were doing. Mark wasn’t feeling too well and hadn’t eaten much since yesterday lunchtime but was hiding it well, he chose not to do the 30+ lead climb, opting for the shorter 28 metre climb instead. Mark did the first lead climb, but I chickened out of doing the same lead climb as it had caused me problems in the past so I just did a top rope climb. I then did a different lead climb just so that Tik knew I could do it. The next thing we had to do was learn how to multi pitch climb. So it was back to the low anchor to practice. It was a little more complicated than just anchoring on so it took us a few tries to get it together. When we’d finally got it the route Tik wanted us to climb was taken by other climbers! So after teaching us
some knots and sitting around for a little longer Tik decided to challenge us with a harder top rope climb - apparently to get us comfortable with the rock! With Mark still feeling a little weak it was mine and Eddy’s turn to go first. I looked at the route and thought that this might be the first time that we failed to reach the anchor!! A short distance from the start I lost my grip completely and went for a little swing!! I did manage to miss all of the sharp rocks and manoeuvre myself back to where I fell. I regained my composure and headed back up the rock. With no carabineers to take off the rock I was just blindly heading for the top - which I couldn’t see as there were too many outcrops! Eventually I made it to the anchor without anymore slips! Safely back on the ground and feeling quite proud of myself it was Marks turn, and with me having reached the anchor there was no way he was going to give up!! It was getting late in the day when he safely arrived back on the ground so we decided it was
time for lunch and to do the multi pitch in the afternoon. A relaxing but quick lunch saw us back at the rock face within an hour and half. Again there was already someone at the route we wanted to climb so a quiet word in the instructors ear ensured we were next on the route. This was the last thing we had to do and we were both nervous about it. So Mark headed up on the lead climb taking the rope with him whilst I belayed him. Once at the top Mark had to secure himself safely onto the anchor ring and pull the rope up until the end that was tied onto me was tight. He then had to keep the rope tight as I climbed up the rock. Once at the top we then had to reorganise the rope and rappel ourselves down one at a time. So being a gentleman - I abseiled down first leaving Mark standing at the top waiting for me to get to the bottom! Once safely with my feet back on the ground, Mark was able to abseil down himself. It was a massive relief to be back with both
feet firmly on the ground. Tik asked if we wanted to do anymore climbs, but we politely declined!! He showed us one more thing - how to create an anchor if we are ever out climbing and there isn’t one there!! We then decided that at 4.30 PM on our last day it was definitely beer O’Clock!!
Although there are many climbing companies on Railay we decided to go with King Climbers who seemed to have the greatest information available and picked up from Krabi. We were really glad we did as they were fantastic and so was our instructor Tik. He had massive patience with us and let us take things at our own pace whilst still pushing us to our limits and beyond. They were always professional and the way they accommodated the additional day because of the rain was fantastic. I would definitely recommend using King Climbers if you want to go climbing in Railay.
A very rewarding if extremely tiring 5 days! I must say I am very proud of what we both achieved. We are in each of the photos that show the rocks - though you may have to look hard to find us!!
There are more photos below