Better Bolts

The crag we had picked out today was in the sun most of the day. So we got up late, relaxing in the comfort of the new room. It’s such an improvement. I spent some more time reading my new book and just chilling out.

After so long, I couldn’t read any more. I went to explore Ton Sai, and bumped directly into Ted and Kari. We had chatted about climbing together while in Koh Tao so it was great to add two more people to our party.

Staying in Ton Sai is MUCH cheaper than Railay. It’s just a small collection of fairly independent resorts of varying quality. All the bars are nailed together driftwood, the restaurants; planks of wood supported by barrels under wriggly tin roofs. Compared to the Thompson and Saga holiday resorts in Railay it looks like a third world country. Much more enjoyable, even if the beach sucks.

The crag was over in Railay, so we had a long-ish walk in the mid afternoon sun to get there. I saw it from the pier when arriving the other day. Then, the crag was crawling with instructor groups and the guidebook said it would be till 4pm. We timed our arrival for 3pm, to avoid the worst of it and still get some decent climbing in before dark.

After my headgames on the tat, i was a lot more comfortable climbing on decent bolts. These are thick gauge wire loops, glued by resin into holes drilled into the solid rock. Over the years, technology has improved and the coastal environment has eroded some of the bolts in place. Now there is a big push to replace all the old bolts with new titanium ones that should last many years to come. The guidebook is also pretty good at describing the bolt condition so over all its very safe.

The route went up about 27m of limestone rockface overlooking the bay, longtail boats and epic cliffs in the distance. This was an exhilarating climb. Big pockets, a bit of overhang, some thin climbing and then a good belay stance / lower off. There were plenty of bolts and i got into that zone where you aren’t thinking about anything but the next move. I wasn’t thinking about anything at all, including taking my gopro with me to take any pictures! Dammit!

After Geoff had led it, and Kari and Ted had a go, we pulled the rope and did another. This was a slightly shorter route with big, blocky shelfs in a corner. It was bold climbing and hard work, even in the cooling afternoon. We were treated to a wonderfully peaceful crag now the groups had left and the sky glowed crimson above us with the sunset. We didn’t get to see this however as, by the time we had packed up, it was getting dark.

Another reason Railay and Ton Sai are so different is because they are separated. There is a rocky outcrop with a dense mini-jungle atop it. You can either get a boat or follow a well trodden path through this leafy maze. It takes about 20 mins and after our two days climbing was a bit difficult. Both my and Geoffs knees were seizing up. Might need a massage soon.

That night we went directly to the bar,

do not pass go,  do not collect $200

and ordered beer and food. It was such a good time, chatting about the day, congratulating each other on our personal conquests. Bring on some more!