A few weeks ago, Anong and I decided somewhat spontaneously to go to Chiang Mai for Loy Krathong. Since Chiang Mai also has some very good climbing at Crazy Horse Buttress, we also packed the climbing gear and got ready for a week of climbing and Thai culture. On November 20th, we hopped on the airplane and were off!
Day #1 First order of business was to get checked into our room. A ฿160 taxi ride from the airport took us to the Yindee Stylish Guesthouse. The rooms were clean with air conditioning and hot water and reasonably priced at around ฿1000 per night. There are of course much cheaper rooms in Chiang Mai, as little as 100 to 200 Baht per night but in my old age, I require just a little bit of luxury these days.
Second order of business was to find the CMRCA climbing shop to get some beta for Crazy Horse. We found it without not much trouble and picked up a guidebook for the area and got some new climbing shoes for Anong since her old ones will likely be worn out in a few months.
Anong testing out her new shoes.
The CMRCA shop is pretty cool. In addition to having lots of gear that can be rented or purchased, they also have a pretty good bouldering wall / training room. If you’re a climber and in Chiang Mai, definitely check it out.
Third order of business, eat dinner! Northern Thailand is known for its unique cuisine. One of the most famous dishes in Chiang Mai is Khao Soi (Thai: ข้าวซอย). It’s a coconut based curry noodle dish containing egg noodles, chicken (or pork), some vegetables, and topped with crispy fried noodles. It’s delicious and one of my favorite Thai foods.
First Khao Soi of many in Chiang Mai. This one was very good.
Day #2, first thing we did was find a shop to rent a motorbike. Motorbike rental shops are all over Chiang Mai so they are not hard to find. Chiang Mai isn’t as well known for its motorbike scams as Koh Tao but it still happens so I did a little research before hand to find some reputable shops. Thai Moto Rent seems to be the most highly regarded shop but unfortunately they had none available. Another shop named Mr. Mechanic also seemed pretty good and as a bonus they were close to my room. So I rented a bike from them and we headed off to explore the city. BTW, other than an empty tank when we received the bike there were no issues with the bike or the shop trying to scam me when returning the bike. So except for the British helmet, Mr. Mechanic gets a thumbs up from me.
Unfortunately, this British flag helmet was the only one that fit. 😦
Exploring a new city means visiting the numerous temples in the area. Here’s a few pictures from Wat Phra That Doikham:
And a few pictures from Wat Phra That Doisuthep which I didn’t really like since they charge a fee for foreigners to enter.
Day #3 is what I was stoked for. Climbing at Crazy Horse!
Since this was my first day at a new climbing spot, we just took it easy. My goal was to get familiar with the area and climb lots of easy routes. The first wall from the trail is Crazy Horse Area and it has a few easy routes on it. So we set up shop there and climbed:
- Ding Dong 5b
- The Muppet Show 5b
We met an Italian guy who was just learning to climb and was there with a friend. They didn’t have enough quickdraws so asked to climb with us a bit. We were planning to move on to another area but I headed back up The Muppet Show one more time so he could try it on top rope. Considering that he was climbing in sneakers he climbed it well for a beginning climber.
After he was done, I climbed again to clean the route. Since I haven’t taught Anong how to clean a route yet, that means I’ve climbed 6 pitches by now. Once to lead, and once to clean.
Next we decided to go to the Anxiety State Crisis Cave. The best routes here are above my ability but there are some easier ones. Beautiful Mess 6a was fun and except for a cruxy section in the middle of the route was pretty easy. I also put up The Underworld 5c which was also nice but not quite as good as the first route. By now it was starting to get dark. After a bit of a panic over lost keys (thankfully found) from our new Italian friends we were on our way home.
Day #4 it was back to Crazy Horse. This time we climbed at Heart Wall which is pretty new and has lots of good routes. The goal for today was still to take it easy and have fun but push myself just a little more. We warmed up on Peuan Jai Rai 5a then moved over to Kuu Jai 5c. Now time for something a little harder. Dtok Jai 6a+ relatively easy climbing but then comes a small roof. Getting up and over this is the crux which I think is a bit harder than graded. I fell here and it took a couple tries to figure it out. I was certainly startled when I came to this. Once past the crux it’s easy climbing to the anchor. Next up was Duang Jai 6a+ It looked like a fun route with a traversy chimney like section. I was having fun, trying not to let the exposure get to me and everything was going well until I came to a section of rock covered by what must have been millions of some kind of small beetle that looked like a lady bug. Even though by now I was only a few bolts from the anchor, seeing no clear path through these insects, I decided to bail off the route. So I took apart one of my quickdraws and lowered off a carabiner.
On the way down I came to the anchor for Hua Jai Wai 6c+ so I set that up to try on top rope. It starts off very steep with powerful, overhanging moves on nice big holds. But then the rock turns vertical and the holds get much smaller and sharper. Needless to say it took me a few tries to get to the top but it was fun to try something hard.
From the ground, I thought the black stuff on the rock was some kind of lichen. But no, it’s millions of tiny black lady bug-like beetles.
View from the top of a climb.
The 6c+ and another view of the insects.
Day #5 was a climbing rest day. We spent most of the day at the Chiang Mai zoo. Speaking Thai, was able to get the Thai price for tickets. Screw you dual pricing Thailand! Here’s some pictures from the zoo:
Ticket prices. Adults 150 Baht or 100 Baht if you can read Thai.
Got the 100 Baht ticket!
Had to buy another ticket to see the panda bears. 100 Baht or 50 Baht if you can read Thai.
That’s it for now. The rest of the pictures are on my camera in Krabi and I’m in Isaan visiting Anong’s family and getting ready to go to Laos to apply for a new visa. So stay tuned for part 2 in a couple weeks when I’m back in Krabi.