Lord Of The Fives

Today was an excellent day.

After renting a bit of gear we headed down to the beach. Phil had made his return to Krabi to join us on his last day in Thailand. He wanted to come over to the beach to meet us last night, but the boat fair had grown exponentially from 100b (£2.50) to 1200b (£30)

The only way to get to the climbing area we wanted today was by boat so we hailed a local. He was leading a group of yoooths to a boat. Turns out we all wanted to go the same way, so piled in together. We even negotiated a really good price! The 3 mins it took to get to the beach have us a good view of the bay. Having only walked along the shore, I hadn’t been able to see all sides of the cliffs, but now their immense beauty was revealed.

Opposite the beach were a few standing boulders with razor sharp bubbly edges. Between two of these, someone had set up a slackline. It was too much to resist. I had to give it a go and did into the water for the short swim across.

Reaching the rocks was easy but the rock was REALLY sharp and hurt to stand on barefoot. I picked my way carefully up to the anchor, becoming increasingly aware that a slip now would be like falling down razorblades. At the slackline, i tried desperately to control my breathing. The technique required for a good walk is controlled breathing, tight but relaxed posture and floaty arms. None of this was possible 2m up above the waves, next to sharp rocks with my heart beating fast from the excited swim over.

I gave it a go and over balanced immediately, ensuring I lept away from the rocks. The water was deep and I was determined, so tried again. This time i took a bit more time and achieved one step before falling to my doom. Each time I fell off I’d have the nerve racking climb up razors before my next attempt. I made this the last one, as people were waiting to go climbing. I stepped out slowly, calming myself. The line was slacker than ideal, and time next to the ocean had seized the mechanism for tightening. It was also a bit frayed but had held me before. I edged out to a comfortable starting distance and tried to compose my zen. This time I managed 3 steps before, graceful as a brick, I hit the water.

From the beach, it was a 2 min walk-in to the crag, just how I like it. The area wasn’t in Geoffs older guidebook, but we spotted it in Basecamps demo guide. Called, Lord Of The Fives, each route was a grade 5. Perfect for our little crew. The first one went up easy, technique and moves now familiar after 3 days of climbing. Lovely solid rock, just enough pockets and features. Plenty of well spaced bolts for protection. Perfect.

We set that line up for a top rope so Ted, Kari and Phil could climb it while we lead another one. This one was a bit stiffer, needing a few thin steps and a bit more delicate balance. I graciously let Geoff lead this one and he was magnificent. I think I would have crapped my pants if i lead it so only top roped this one.

But i wasn’t getting off lightly, I was next up to lead. The longest route on the crag. It started with a boulder overhang to a layback crack, into a bridging corner that ramped into an overhang. It felt very “traddy”, a term that will mean nothing to most people. The final moves were powerful and hard on the arms, on rock that, up to this point hadn’t been sharp. I suspect this was down to over use in the lower section and under use at the top. It was quite a bold finish and really made me work for it. I was totally stoked reaching the lower off. What a great climb.

This was also Phils first time climbing. We had been talking about getting him climbing for a while but it’s taken a 10hr flight, 28 degree heat, a beach, a boat and a limestone cliff to make it happen. Surely a local climbing wall would have been easier? He set off up the first route and I didn’t give him much instruction. Climbing is fairly self explanatory, “go up” being the only directions needed really. It was a tough one to start on, particularly if you’ve never put hand to rock before. The grip strength needed and balance is alien, so he struggled for a while. With us all shouting encouragement and some helpful pointing to holds he nailed it, all the way to the top.

After all that, we were quite tired and decided to call it a day. Phil had to leave a bit early anyway to catch his flight. Now low tide, we are able to walk back to Ton Sai over the rocks. This beach really isn’t very pretty at all. I can see why the developers didn’t bother building the resort in the end. I just hope they can find something else useful to do with it.

Back in Ton Sai and aware of my aching body, I went for my first Thai massage. It was interesting, and certainly left me feeling loose, but it wasn’t relaxing. It was like being beaten up in slow motion. “Now I’m going to focus on your left calf, and inflict as much pain as possible pressing deep into your muscles so your foot spasms…” it was an experience. I think I’ll have an oil massage next and compare my preference. At only 300b each (£7.50) i can afford to scientifically repeat this experiment a statistically relevant number of times.

I said I’d update you on the progress of the book, “Do The Birds Still Sing In Hell”, so here is my review now im finished:

You have to read this book (if your over 18) There are some quite graphic descriptions of suffering and pleasure that anyone younger shouldn’t read. It’s both disturbing and entertaining. With parts that made me laugh out loud in between the most horrific account of evil I’ve read. Sometimes it’s truly difficult to remember it’s a historical memoir, not a clever tale spun into the threads of the past.

Overall I’m glad to have read it. The book left me feeling sad, but hopeful that if this is just one story, there must be hundreds of others out there. Other stories where men and women found pockets of fun and laughter from the darkest depths of pain. I can only hope this is the case, as anything less would just be unending torture.

I hope time does not skew the meaning of this book from fact to fiction. I will replace it in the historical section of ever found lost amongst fantasy.