Rock Climbing in Tonsai Beach

Monday morning three weeks ago I headed to the pier for the longtail boats at the eastern side of Ko Yao Noi. As I again didn’t want to pay the ridiculous price of 100 Baht for the songthaew I hitched with a scooter to the pier. Just to arrive on time. Unfortunately, one of the longtail boats was not working, so instead a speed boat was operating, but slightly more expensive. On the boat I met a Swiss couple with two small children who were travelling in South-East Asia for three months. In Talen Pier there were massive offers from taxi drivers but we refused to take their service of 500 Baht to get to Ao Nang, instead I took twice a songthaew for just 20% of the price. In Ao Nang I stayed only for 5 minutes, until my longtail boat to Tonsai Beach left. Tonsai Beach is the centre of the rock climbing community of SEA, not to be confused with Tonsai Town on Ko Phi Phi, which is a pure party island. Even if there were the first sport climbing routes set up in the late 1980’s.

I stayed there for about 2.5 weeks. It was no longer high season. Hence, accommodation was quite cheap, but temperatures were rising every day. Hence, already after the approach you were completely sweated and climbing in the sun is completely impossible. Depending on the alignment of the crag we started climbing just in the afternoon. The crags directly at Tonsai beach were most popular, especially in the morning, but also most polish as people were telling me. In the end I never tried one of the routes. I met almost only nice people around there, except the German owner of the Basecamp climbing shop. She is yelling at people a.k.a. customers when they enter her shop. Even as she is a very prominent person and one of the driving forces of the Thaitanium project (replacing all stainless steel bolts with titanium bolts, due to severe corrosion problems of stainless steel in limestone with salt water atmosphere), I didn’t want to go there and rent gear. Instead I went to Max next to the Chill Out Bar.

In this time I was staying I could do my first 6b onsight, climbed freely (without aid) a 6b+ and was seconding a 6c and super hard 6c+ (where the first ascend was made by Kurt Albert). Beside rock climbing Tonsai is still (let’s see what happens after the new construction works is finished) a relaxed area, where electricity and hence, WiFi, is only available in the evening. The atmosphere is definitely special, completely different to neighbouring resort driven Railay, like an oasis. In the evening I mostly went to Viking Bar with “Happy Hour all night” and Chase the Devil sounds from the background.

Tuesday 2019-03-05

Belaying Partner: Benni, Simon

Fire Wall:

  • The Groove Tube 6a+ (onsight, only start boulder hard, otherwise super easy)
  • Boobtube 6b (lead, the crux was a bit overhanging)
  • White Hot Hemias 6b+ (lead, but only up to the 2nd last bolt, afterwards only small holds)

Wednesday 2019-03-06

Belaying Partner: Olaf

Fire Wall:

  • Up in Smoke 6a+ (lead, large holds, but steps are polished)
  • For Helga 6a+ (onsight, very nice route, just two overhanging cruxes and nice rest positions in between)

Thursday 2019-03-07

Belaying Partner: Kolja, Vanessa

Thaiwand Wall:

  • Caveman 6a+ (lead, very hard start boulder, and pumped after 2nd last bolt)
  • Live & Let Thai 5 (lead, probably the hardest 5 in my live)
  • Getting to know you 6b (lead, very nice route, but circumvent the overhanging crux)

Saturday 2019-03-09

Belaying Partner: Simon

Phra Nang Beach:

  • Money Maker 6a (lead)
  • Small Change 6a/5 (top-rope and cleaned the route, and set up Fertilite from the top)
  • Fertilite 6c+ (Seconding, the crux is really hard and almost nothing for the feet. My first route I finished in that grade at all. Was the first route at this sector, was set up 30 years ago by Kurt Albert and others)

Thaiwand Wall:

  • Circus Oz 6a+ (onsight, very nice climb and view from the anchor)

Sunday 2019-03-10

Belaying Partner: Olaf

Cobra Wall:

  • Cobra Head 6a (lead, crux was pretty hard, but otherwise nice)
  • Old snake 6b (lead, with two times break at the two crux, especially the first is a bit tricky, but not really hard)
  • Snake Whiskey 6a+ (onsight, has lots of holds)
  • Snake Skin 6a+ (onsight, nice route and moves)

Wednesday 2019-03-13

Belaying Partner: Camille, Matthew

Wee’s Present Wall:

  • I don’t know 6a (onsight)
  • Same Same, but different 6b+ (lead, A0 at first bolt to prevent ground fall, after start boulder nice route)

Thaiwand Wall:

  • Monkey Love 6b (onsight, my first onsighted 6b at all, nice route between the tufas)
  • Mala Mujer 6b (lead, missed the top out from the last bolt, and crossed over to the 6a+ next to it)

Thursday 2019-03-14

Belaying Partner: Matthew(, Camille)

Thaiwand Wall:

  • Fit to be Thaid 6a+ (onsight, very nice and exposed route)
  • The Sluggard Prince 6b (lead, super hard overhanging start boulder up to the first bolt)

Fire Wall:

  • White Hot Hermias 6b+ (lead with headlight as it was already dark. Stuck again at the same position, but understood the next move much better, but was too exhausted to make it)

Saturday 2019-03-16

Belaying Partner: David (he lead all the hard stuff onsight!)

Hidden World Wall:

  • Space Head Gone 6b (lead, short climb)
  • Acid-mouth Wife 6b+ (only lead to the crux, seconding the whole climb afterwards)

Thaiwand Wall:

  • Equatorial 6c (seconding, awesome route along the left arete of the large cave, super nice anchor point with fantastic view)
  • Caveman 6a+ (leading, and belayed David from top, with going through the cave to Escher Wall afterwards)

Sunday 2019-03-17

Belaying Partner: Nicole (onsighted the first 4 routes, always before me, so the quickdraws were already pre-clipped for me)

Gibbons Roof:

  • Guardian of the Shards of Human 5 (onsight, with normal shoes, as my toe still hurt from my climbing shoes)
  • I don’t want your bricks 6a (onsight, easier than graded)
  • Tonsai space Program 6a (onsight, with large steps, easier than graded)
  • Actually Jaman 6a+ (onsight, grade only at the start boulder, after second bolt not harder than a 3)
  • Infected mushroom 6a+ (lead, nice and easy route under the roof, overhanging moves feels like graded)

Tuesday 2019-03-19

Belaying Partner: Gery, Natalie

Wee’s Present Wall:

  • Roi-Et 6a (onsight, hard start and hard finish)
  • I don’t know 6a (redpoint, with Trail running shoes to save my toes)
  • A man can tell a 1000 lies 6a (onsight, super nice fun route)
  • Same Same, but Different 6b+ (lead, my first 6b+ I ever lead, after working about one hour at the start boulder, I finally managed to climb that move freely without aid)

Wednesday 2019-03-20

Belaying Partner: Gery, Natalie, Blain and a French guy which just popped up

Eagle Wall:

  • Easy 5a (onsight, part of Lord of the Fives, just did it because Natalie and Blain were exercising on it)
  • Desayuno De Nono 6b (lead, nice 35m route, but got the worst belay of my total stay from this arrogant Frensh guy)

Thursday 2019-03-21

Deep Water Soloing (DWS):

We, Bobby, Heiko, Sophia, Pia, Kyle, David and me, rent a longtail boat and a kayak. As the famous DWS spot at Ko Poda was closed by the national park, we headed to two other spots. It has no longer that spectacular Stalactites but in the end it was quite nice. I just scratched my skin on the last route, as my right foot slipped away and the rock was pretty sharp. But luckily I just felt about 10 metres into the deep water. Doing it for one day is nice, but I guess it won’t become my famous discipline in rock climbing.

Leaving Ko Yao Noi on the speed boat
Railay from one of the viewpoints
The lagoon is calm compared to other beaches, and the way up and down at least a 4 in free solo (or 5, if you opt for the overhanging move)
Phra Nang Beach is supposed to be one of the top ten beaches worldwide…
…has super large Stalactites…
…and the first rock climbing route (Fertilite…cause it starts directly next to the Phra Nang Cave, a buddhism worship place with lots of wodden penises) on it, and was set up by Kurt Albert and others 30 years ago
After crossing the mountain by 4 bamboo ladders from Escher Wall to Thaiwand Wall, you get the same view as climbing up the Caveman 6a+ (David said it was harder, see the bolts for the second pitch, which is 7a+)
View from the belaying point of “Getting to know you” and “The Sluggard Prince” both 6b…
…me leading “The Sluggard Prince” after clipping the first bolt at the super hard overhanging start move. The finish is also nice…nothing for your hands, just move your body to the left in order to reach the anchor. I found that route even harder than “Same, Same but different” 6b+, where only the start boulder is tricky, but not really hard.

Me onsighting “Fit To Be Thaid”. It’s an awesome route with spectacular views, only topped by “Equatorial” also at Thaiwand Wall.

Tonsai roof, Tonsai and to the Dum’s kitchen with Greed 8c+ (only 6a+ to the 2nd bolt, and afterwards 57 moves without rest…nice description 😅), the hardest route in Tonsai…seen from Cobra Wall
Going for Deep Water Soloing…
Bobby, Pia, me, David, and Sophia
David and me at the first spot, a 6a+, nice move in between. The top out is quite easy. I made it even further up, but preferred to jump down from more or less then same height.
Bobby, me, and David approaching a 6c route at the second spot and tried a “procedure” to get our hands dry, but nevertheless the skin is super weak, when wet.
As a real estate developer took over the space directly on the beach…
…all other businesses went to a parallel street, and the wall is decorated similar to other walls like in Berlin decades ago
Unfortunately this was already booked out, after I arrived, but I met lots of people who where still able to get a ticket
Even with this long product development time, I wasn’t able to get Tonsai Tummy during my stay 😉

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