I had a very delightful day climbing two days ago. Anong was out of town so I headed to Chong Phli by myself planning to meet Martin and Dorothea there. I got there a little early and ended up climbing a bit with Johannes and Hanna. They are just about the nicest friendly people I have met and very strong climbers too. They were just coming down Grace 7a and I mentioned I’d like to try it. We put my rope up on the route then I warmed up on Exfoliation 6a+. Johannes watched me climb while Hanna belayed. After the climb Johannes gave a couple suggestions to improve climbing technique which was appreciated. Johannes and Hanna then did their climbs and we headed back over to Grace so I could give it a go on top rope. Johannes gave good beta so I was able to make it all the way up to the crux. I had to rest then I was able to make it to the anchors. Meanwhile Martin and Dorothea showed up so I chatted with them a while. Later, I tried Grace one more time and was able to climb cleanly to the top! Whenever I feel a little more confident, I think this will be my first 7a.
Sadly, today was Johannes and Hanna’s last day in Thailand. I hope to run into them again somewhere.
The next day I met Martin and Dorothea at Gibbon Roof in Tonsai. We warmed up on Infected Mushroom 6a+. I decided I don’t like this route very much. I haven’t found a good sequence through the crux and it just feels awkward to me. Next we headed over to work on our project, NWA 6c+. I watched Martin climb then I gave it a go. I was able to climb quickly through the first few bolts so was able to make it to the rest spot before I pumped out. I recovered and moved to the crux. Unfortunately I was not able to get through the crux but reached a new high point today. We rested awhile then gave it one more try. Still no send but progress was made. After that, we called it a day.
I walked over towards Monkey World to see if another guy I knew was climbing and maybe I could join but he was already high up on the wall. So then I walked down to the beach and to Railay. I bought the King Climbers guide book since it seems to have better topos. Then I walked to Railay East to drop my shoes off to be resoled. Then I went back to Railay West and as luck would have it, a boat to Ao Nang was getting ready to leave just as I got there. Then I walked back to my room, got a foot massage because my feet were sore from all this walking then headed off to yoga.
Nothing too exciting today. Warm up on EFZ 6a+, then two laps on Exfoliation 6a+, two laps on Pill Box 6b+, then two laps and lots of cleaning on Dude Abides 6a+. After all the cleaning, Dude Abides climbs much better now but it could still use some more. I’m getting better at Pill Box as well. But oddly, my left middle finger went numb on one of the starting holds. I also need to find new beta for the crux. I’ve been matching hands on a smallish hold which wastes time and energy. Need to find a better way.
Anong and I met Martin and Dorothea at Gibbon Roof in the morning. We warmed up on Gibbon Roof New 4 6a+. A couple weeks ago I spent a good amount of time brushing off this route but it’s still quite dirty. I guess next time I’ll spend a bit more time brushing it off. After warming up we moved over to NWA 6c+. I tried it once and got to a new high point (the 4th bolt) before needing to rest. Then I was able to climb to the bolt just before the crux. The crux feels impossible to me right now. But I just need to keep trying. After couple feeble attempts at making the crux move I fell and wasn’t able to get back on route.
We were watching some people climb Straight out of Tonsai 7a which is one route to the right of NWA. They said most of the route is actually easier than NWA so Martin and I gave it a try. It’s a short, very steep, powerful route. I was able to get to one bolt before the anchor with only a couple rests. It seems doable if I can refine the beta and climb it quickly / efficiently.
Starting to feel a little tired, we took a rest and walked over to Cat Wall. When I was at Fire Wall, it looked like there were some fun climbs here. We tried the two easiest routes. First, I tried The Cat And The Cobra 6b. Some interesting climbing at the beginning to middle of the route leads to a gently overhanging jug haul to the finish. I was feeling good about onsighting it. Then I tried Devil Cat 6b. Another good climb. Crux is a bolt or two before the anchor. I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it but I pushed through and found the jugs. So pumped at the end and happy for another onsight.
I attribute my good performance today to my new shoes. I got a pair of La Sportiva Katana Women’s. The white and bright pink/magenta looks a little ridiculous on me but I don’t care. I got them because they are very similar to my old shoes (Katana Men’s) but have the XS Grip 2 rubber on them which makes them extra sticky. I felt so much more confident with my feet climbing in them. It’s like R-compound tires for my feet!
I decided I need to work on my endurance. So I warmed up on Exfoliation 6a+. I’m getting better at climbing this one and have started to find subtle ways to refine the beta to make climbing it easier. Then we move over to PillBox 6b+. This is a vertical to slightly overhanging route with mostly good hand holds and a few spots with bad feet. I figure running laps on this will be good for endurance. So I go up then climb one more time on top rope. I wanted to do a couple more laps but someone wanted to climb Scorpion 7b which shares most of PillBox. So I took a break and let him climb with my rope so I could try Scorpion on top rope. 7a+ / 7b is a breakthrough grade that has been my goal to reach for a long time so I was curious to see how I would do on this route. Well, it didn’t go well. I got stuck just a few moves past the end of PillBox. But it was fun to try.
A couple days later Anong and I head back to Chong Phli. I still want to work on endurance but decide to change my approach a little bit and climb several different routes instead of one route several times. We got a late start. Not there till nearly 11am but were able to climb:
- Zack Attack 5
- EFZ 6a+
- Momentum 6b
- Exfoliation 6a+
- Dude Abides 6a+
I cheated a little bit on Dude Abides by pulling on a sling because one of the hand holds I needed was too dirty to hang on to. I also fixed up the anchor on Dude Abides a bit since the “anchor” was basically just one sling and a carabiner. Pretty sketchy. I replaced it with three slings and two stainless steel rings I pulled off another climb at Bat Cave. I was intending to clean the route up as well (it’s very dirty in the cave) but it was getting late and we were hungry so will save that for next time.
Anong and I head to Gibbon Roof with plans to meet up with Martin and Dorothea. First we warm up on what I will call Gibbon Roof New 4 6a+ since I don’t know the name of the route. I onsighted it which was nice. The first half has interesting climbing with a definite crux to get up on a ledge with easier climbing to the anchor. Anong climbed it then I climbed it a second time. On rappel I spent some time brushing a lot of dirt and dust off the rock. Then we moved over to Infected Mushroom 6a+. Here is proof that not all 6a+’s are created equal. After climbing Infected Mushroom my arms are pumped and sweat is dripping down my face. Gibbon Roof New 4 not so much. Then Martin and I spend some time trying NWA 6c+. We made some progress getting to one bolt before the anchor but it still eludes us.
By now it’s late afternoon and the mosquitoes are coming out. Martin and Dorothea go back to Ao Nang. Anong and I find a room to stay in. Then we head over to Fire Wall. I hadn’t climbed Groove Tube 6a which is considered a classic route on Tonsai yet. So we went over there with the intention to climb it. Unfortunately nearly every route on the wall had somebody on it but we stuck around and a new route for me opened up. For Helga 6a+ starts off on some lower angled tufas then turns vertical with some cool rock. Finger pockets, tufas, everything climbing in Thailand is all about. Then easier climbing to the anchor. It was a fun route. Onsighted. Anong climbed For Helga then after that, amazingly enough, Groove Tube was free. So we headed over there and climbed it. Fun route and it’s been about three years since the last time I climbed it so I’ll call this an onsight 😛 By now it’s dark so we pack up. Have a beer at Freedom Bar. Go for a swim. Get a massage. Then eat some food and drink more beer. Life doesn’t suck.
Lazy morning. I wanted to head over to Cobra Wall to finish up a project of mine. Sun is still on the wall when we get there so we hang out awhile. Once there’s enough shade we warm up on Cobra Head 6a. Then work on my project Baby Snake 6c. I honestly thought I was going to send today. But I guess I wanted it too bad. I failed miserably and had to relearn some of the beta and I felt like I had no endurance. After a few failed redpoint attempts I give up. I was getting hungry. The tide was coming in, and I wanted to go back to Gibbon Roof.
After lunch we head to Gibbon Roof. I had one more go at NWA 6c+. I got to my previous high point but no farther. Feeling tired I wanted to go home but climb up Infected Mushroom for endurance training. By now the mosquitoes are coming out so we pack up and head back to the beach to catch a boat to Ao Nang.
I was trying to figure out what I wanted to climb today. Decided I should start with Family Affair 6c. I redpointed it about 6 weeks ago and haven’t climbed it since. Even though the grade is near my limit it’s actually a pretty good warm up. There is easy climbing in the 6a to 6b range to the first crux in the middle of the route. Then a couple tricky moves that depend on good footwork. Then easier climbing to the second crux just below the anchor which is a little more powerful. I didn’t expect it to give me much trouble but I fell at the first crux and took a couple tries to figure out the beta. Then I fell again at the second crux. Both cruxes are well protected with a bolt just below the difficult moves so I was right at the bolt when I fell. Despite this I fell 15 to 20 feet! I need to have a little chat with my belayer about managing slack in the rope 🙂 So I was a little bummed to not send but I hate falling so felt good about being willing to take some falls on lead. I climbed it one more time on top rope and cruised through without difficulty. Why is lead climbing such a head game?
Next we moved over to Chutzpah 6a+ and finished up the day on Exfoliation 6a+. Both climbs were uneventful.
Yesterday. Warm up on EFZ 6a+. Then do a couple laps on Exfoliation 6a+. I’m making progress on climbing this efficiently. I feel only a little tired when I get to the anchor and there is a good spot to rest before it turns steep to recover some energy. I know I should try the 6c+ lead now but I don’t feel mentally ready. I want to build up some strength and endurance before I try and maybe con somebody into being my rope gun one more time so I can try it on top rope again. Then we move over to Simon Sends 4 so Anong and I can practice multi-pitch skills and rappelling.
I had been taking it easy up till now because I wanted to try Chong Phli Posse 6c in the cave but as I rounded the corner I started to hear a loud buzzing sound. It didn’t sound good. Some time in the last week it appears a large colony of bees decided to move in. There were a couple very large mean looking ones flying around and several smaller ones that were annoying. Anong said their bite was very painful so we decided not to push our luck and called it a day. I guess Chong Phli Posse and the other routes in the cave are going to have to wait until the bees move out.