Beast Mode


The DWS was cancelled in the end due to lack of numbers. We thought we would get a guide and a boat to ourselves for a while, but it was not to be. A little frustrating but it all worked out for the best because…

We met up with the English climbers and agreed to take a look at the crag they were planning that day. There wasn’t a single 5 grade route on it, but i figured we would just top rope some of the stuff they did. Take out the quickdraws for them and belay bitch all day as payment for letting us tag along.

The crag was really close by, with only a small hill up to the face. Ed put up the first route. A beasty overhang to a bulging mantle on tufas made for a bold start. After that he cruised the route with minimal issues. It looked amazing and i really wanted to climb it. Probably on top rope, well maybe on lead, ok fine I’ll lead it!

With our new friends encouragement ringing in my ears, I set off. I’ve been climbing for about 8 years in total but various injuries have prevented me progressing much in terms of grades. I’m just happy to be on rock, leading grade 5s is fine but this was a 6a called “Carolines Last Day”. A whole lot more serious climb. Still, i went for it. The crux move was protected well by a bolt that I wasted no time in clipping as I reached it. The overhang I’d just done had taken it out of me so I bridged a rest under the tufas and prepared for the next spurt of effort.

The move was a great one. Leaving the safety of the blocky overhang and hanging loose under the tufa you had to find a good hold on top and then work your feet up. Only then could you pitch forward into a mantel and complete the crux. I had maybe 3 sighting attempts and a bit of thinking time before I nailed it. Super pumped on adrenalin, i pulled through and stood for a hands off rest, shaking a bit from the effort. It was such a great move but I was only ¼ finished with the route. It continued above this in a chimney made between two tufas. Loads of easy holds and pockets, it didn’t take me long to finish.

When I came down, I was running rivers of sweat down my body. It’s 26 – 28°C here but feels like more when in the sun. I had to spend a good 20 mins just sitting in the shade at the bottom, letting my body cool down before doing anything else. After a while, the crag moved into shade across most of the routes and it was a lot more bearable.

I also top roped a climb called “Techno-bug” which goes at 6a. However mutual discussion pushes it up to an ego boosting 6b as we disagreed with the guidebooks grade. This climb is pretty steep and over hanging with a technical bit of pocket work at half height. You really have to concentrate on your footwork and remember to step behind you onto the features that are easily forgotten in the grip of panic.


After the buzz from leading a 6a I wanted to try another. I’d watched a couple climb a route called “Bannana Hanmock” at 6a+. I studied their moves, collecting as much beta as possible. This looked like my sort of route; a little overhanging, with big meaty moves on good hand holds. It was also a bit exposed at the top where the route scaled a huge developed stalactite (or whichever is the one that goes up from the ground) At the top of which, the lower off was a decent overhang away from the rock. It made for a fanatically dramatic finish, clinging by one hand, a foot and a toe as i clipped the final bolt.

It was a really enjoyable route. The tufas had just enough good holds and places to rest. One of the rests was straddling a spike of rock. Not comfy on your arse, but more comfy than falling off. I was also happy to find a couple decent hand jams which helped preserve my arms longer. Learning to climb in the peak distinct on cracks means jamming is my favourite way to climb.

Once I had reached the top of this I hung around, literally, enjoying the view. I could see all across Ton Sai bay. Palm trees barely wafting in the hot afternoon breaths of wind. As the sun started to set, the cliffs opposite glowed gold, reflected in the calm blue sea. Bobbing longtail boats slowly lapped at the shore, magnificent in their bright colours and dirty engines. I was surrounded in quiet, still beauty. My heavy breathing from the climb, the only intrusion on the relaxingly beautiful scene.

Until, some curious wasps found the rivulets of sweat running down my back and landed for a drink. If you know me at all, you know I have an irrational fear of wasps. Being stuck at height and working out how to rethread an anchor safely with wasps buzzing around, replaced the calm I had found with extreme stress. It was all I could do to not swat the flying demons and exacerbate the situation. Eventually tied in correctly, i was lowered down, cleaning the route as i went. Unfortunately this is a slow process, and the wasps had found a source of water close to their nest that they didn’t want to give up, so followed me! ARGH!

After another 20 mins of cool down and wasp swatting, a chap from Bradford, and his rock climbing virgin girlfriend turned up. I gave him a belay and, clearly a competent climber, he shot up a 6a. I gave it a try but the cumulative effects of the days climbing, the heat and the most polished route I’ve ever climbed meant i was defeated. I did manage to find a hands off kneebar rest which was quite fun though!

All in all it was an amazing day. I climbed some challenging routes, pushed my grade, made some cool friends and enjoyed a spectacular view. The day was ended with a big beer and big burger at Andaman. It was Teds birthday so we had a few celebratory drinks. I wish i had more energy for a night out but i hadn’t eaten anything all day so finally expired and had to retreat to my room.