Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Thailand Ticklist!

So here is a list of what I managed to send in Thailand. I probably could have sent alot more if I didn't spend so much time relaxing... but hey, I'm on holiday :-p

It goes: route name / grade / crag / onsight or flash or shots taken to send / other notes like deep water, etc


Pahn Taalod (Always Pass) 6a Dum's Kitchen OS
Rod Yaak (Difficult To Pass) 6b Dum's Kitchen OS
Name Unknown 6c Dum's Kitchen 2nd Shot
Giggerig For Climbing 5 One Two Three OS
Short & Savage 6b One Two Three OS
We Sad 6a+ One Two Three OS
Selee 6a One Two Three OS
Sameboy 6a+ One Two Three OS

White Hot Hernias 6b+ Fire Wall 2nd Shot
The Groove Tube 6a Fire Wall OS

? 6b Koh Poda OS DWS
? 6a Koh Poda OS DWS
? 6a Koh Poda OS DWS
? V5 Koh Poda 5th Shot Boulder

Kuahtittnseppl 6c+ Tyrolean Wall OS
Kitty Toe 6b The Nest 2nd Shot
Wacky Weed 6a The Nest OS

Longes Feschtl 6b+ Tyrolean Wall 2nd Shot
Stalagasaurus 6c+ Tonsai Overhang Flash

Missing Snow 6b+ Tyrolean Wall Flash
Lars & Lars 7a Tyrolean Wall Flash

Mutual Of Omaha 6c Wild Kingdom Wall Flash

The Lion King 6c+ Dum's Kitchen 4th Shot

Primal Scream 6a+ Thaiwand Wall OS
Equatorial (1st Pitch) 6c Thaiwand Wall 2nd Shot
Twenty Kilos Of Steel 4 Thaiwand Wall OS
Best Route In Minnesotta 6c Escher World OS

Jumping For Jugs 6c Dum's Kitchen 2nd Shot

Cat & Cobra 6b Cat Wall OS
King Cat 6c+ Cat Wall OS
April Fool's 7b Cat Wall Flash
? 6c Cat Wall OS

Black Cat (1st Pitch) 7a Cat Wall 2nd Shot

Bottom Feeder 6b The Keep OS
Gengis Bond 6b The Keep OS
Nut Cracker 6c The Keep OS
Medusa's Lover 6c The Keep OS
Babo Does Thailand 6c The Keep OS
Monkey's Bum 6b The Keep OS

Caroline's Last Day 6a The Nest OS
Little Fish (Pla Lek) 6b+ The Nest 2nd Shot
Banana Hammock 6a+ The Nest OS

The Sit Spins 6b+ Dum's Kitchen OS

Burnt Offerings 7a+ Fire Wall 2nd Shot


? V3 The Backyard 3rd Shot

? V3 The Backyard Flash
? V5 The Backyard 3rd Shot
? V3 The Backyard Flash


Curious George (Pitch 1) 6a+ Monkey World Flash MP 2nd
Curious George (Pitch 2) 6b Monkey World Flash MP 2nd

Climb Of The Ancient Mariner (Pitch 1) 6a Melting Wall OS
Right Hand Of Buddha 6b Melting Wall OS
Captain Hook 6b Melting Wall OS

? 6a+ Fire Wall OS
Cross Eyed 7b Melting Wall 4th Shot

The Bolt From Hell 6c+ Generator Wall OS

Chunky Monkey (Pitch 1) 6b Monkey World OS
Chunky Monkey (Pitch 2) 6a+ Monkey World Flash MP 2nd

? V5 Big Wave Cave 4th Shot Boulder
? V6 Big Wave Cave 5th Shot Boulder
? V6 Big Wave Cave 5th Shot Boulder

Babes In Thailand 7a Tonsai Overhang 2nd Shot

Cowabungalow 6b Tonsai Wall OS
Lal Bab 7a+ Tonsai Overhang Flash
Devil Cat 6b Cat Wall OS

Reminiscence 7a+ Dum's Kitchen 2nd Shot
Mai Mee Fahn (No Teeth) 7a+ Dum's Kitchen Flash
Exodus 7c Marley Wall 5th Shot

Unknown 6a Wild Kingdom OS
Unknown 6a Wild Kingdom OS
Concrete Jungle 6c+ Wild Kingdom OS

Hin Rong Hai (Crying Rock) 6c Tonsai Wall Flash
Fire Starter 6c+ Fire Wall OS
Boobtube 6b Fire Wall OS

Good Medicine 7a Dum's Kitchen 2nd Shot
Freedom Safari 7a Wild Kingdom 2nd Shot
Breezes Of The Past (Pitch 1) 6b Wild Kingdom OS
Breezes Of The Past (Pitch 2) 7b Wild Kingdom Flash

Tidal Wave 7c Tonsai Roof 12+ Shots

Good Morning Vietnam!


Good Morning Vietnam!So I have finally left Tonsai, believe it or not! I relaxed my last days away and soaked up the ambiance as much as possible, relaxed on the beach with friends and said my goodbyes to the locals and my fellow climbers. The guys at Sawadee Bar, my favourite regular bar on the beach, all gave me a bottle of Sangsum as a farewell present and I got a great pic with all of them - Dap, Lek, Wit & Kong - I'll miss you guys, thanks for all the good times :-)I said goodbye to most of my friends on my last night then early the next morning I woke Chris to say goodbye then headed off solo to the beach. It was very sad to leave that beautiful place but I know for cedrtain that I will return soon enough. One longtail boat ride, one taxi and two flights later I was in Hanoi, Vietnam yesterday afternoon. I jumped in a taxi and headed straight to a hotel in the Old Quarter, checked in, had my first hot shower in 3 months (Bliss!) and then headed into the night to check out the place.Sensory overload. I was on my own, spoke no Vietnamese, it was night time... then it started raining. I checked out the night market briefly but decided it was all too much at the time so I bought some food and retreated to my hotel room where I ate food, drank beer and watched Discovery Channel all night. The next morning I got up and had breakfast then headed out for a proper look around the Old Quarter. Crazy is the only way to describe it. Chaotic traffic - taxi's, trucks, rickshaws, bikes, scooters... all on narrow, vendor lined streets full of food, noise and people trying to sell you Lonely Planet books and maps or take you on a tour. I headed to the lake and took some photo's of the lake and the monuments on it, then I talked for a while with some students who were desperate for someone to practice their english on (they loved it and all wanted photo's with me afterwards haha). I got back to my hotel, packed my things and headed off in a taxi to Luong Yen Station to get a bus/ferry to Cat Ba Island. A 4 1/2 hour trip later and I was in Cat Ba Town on Cat Ba Island in Ha Long Bay!I checked into a room in the guest house on the 4th floor above Slopony Adventures, the guide company here. An early dinner, a bad movie and a few games of pool later (the bar is literally below my room, 1 flight of stairs seperates me from cheap beers haha) and now I have a buddy to climb with in the morning so it's off to bed - To sleep, perchance to dream... or perchance to get out and taste some Vietnamese limestone routes in the morning!It will be interesting to see how long I stay here. I want to be in Yangshuo, China by the 14th April for a friends birthday, but the Slopony guys think there is only about 6 actual climbers in Cat Ba right now so climbing partners are a bit thin on the ground. If it proves too hard to find people to climb with (my friend for the morning leaves tomorrow afternoon) then I may leave earlier, but if things work out well then longer is possible too. We will have to see how things pan out :-)But for now its excitement-ville, keen as mustard to get up in the morning, hire a motorbike and get amoungst it!


Well what a mixed bag Cat Ba is turning out to be. After my initial dismay about there being not many people to climb with (which is true) I have had an amazing 2 days so far. Here's what has transpired in the last 2 days. For a start there is a massive 4 day festival going on in Cat Ba, based right on the main promenade outside my hotel. It is something to do with the anniversary of Mr Ho Chi Min visiting 40 or 50 years ago and they celebrate it every year apparently. So there is a plethora of street stalls playing crazy music all day from 6am until about midnight and a massive main stage that I can watch from my balcony that has performances on it all day and night. So the place is alive and buzzing with excitement and crazy shenanigans. Only bad part is being woken up by loud music right outside my hotel at 6am!Day one I headed out to Butterfly Valley, the main bolted crag on the island, with Ryan, an ex-pat aussie dentist living and working in Hanoi. We got a lift out on motorbikes in the morning by some locals and spent the day climbing some great routes where I did some onsighting up to 7a and tried one of the harder routes out there. Butterfly Valley is in the middle of the hills on the island and is a gorgeous farm tucked away in a little valley ensconsed in hills with cliffs lining one side. There were local villagers farming the land with cows, buffalo and dogs roaming around. I even rode on one of the water buffalo haha. The people that live there provide a great lunch and beers (at a small cost) and we sat and ate with them in the middle of the day between climbing. Such a pretty place, great routes, great people and fun routes. And it isn't called Butterly Valley for no reason. There were different butterly's all over the place, so many colours, shapes and sizes... amazing. Apparently in the summer there are hudreds of them everywhere, so cool.Ryan was off this morning but may be back in a few days which would be great. At breakfast I met a nice girl from Leeds in England called Susie and we decided to head out on a ride for the day. She convinced me that mountain bikes were better than going on a scooter so we walked to the next bay, had coffee at one of the floating resteraunts there, picked up some mountain bikes and then headed off north up the middle of the island. We rode all the way to Cat Ba National Park and headed into the park to try and see the worlds rarest monkey - the Cat Ba Langur. We didn't see them of course, haha, there are only about 60 of them alive and they are pretty impossible to find, but we rode well into the park, riding nice trails and carrying our bikes up massive long stairs carved into the jungle clad hills. Such an amazing place, moutnains and cliffs strewn with thick jungle and shrouded in mist. We eventually got stopped by some trees fallen over the trail, which by this stage was a fairly rough and minimal path. We turned around and headed back out of the park and back down the road to Cat Ba Town. By the time we got back we had walked a fair few kilometres and rode 30+ kilometres. We were pretty worn by it all (Me more than Sus have to admit haha - she is a mountain biker back at home) so beers were in order followed by an early dinner of fresh crab (live crabs, pick your own from a tank and they go cook it for you), fresh squid and this great spinach and garlic dish you get everywhere here. We had a fun night having drinks and playing cards now it's off to bed ready for another fun day tomorrow. If we feel alright we may climb at Butterfly Valley again, if not we might go check out the beaches on the island. The biggest objective is trying to rustle up some more folk for an overnight boat trip into Ha Long Bay to go kayaking and Deep Water Soloing, which is my main objective here in Vietnam. Here's hoping we can find enough people!


Today I am sitting around relaxing and doing nothing as I am pretty tired after our ride yesterday. The weather here is overcast and fairly cool each day, wish I could have some sunshine to go relax on the beach... I miss the beach! I had some breakfast, strolled around the crazy markets in downtown Cat Ba and now I have just finished fixing a little computer issue that I have been having trouble with (Where were you when I needed you Richo? haha) that has been stopping me working on photo's. Now it's all fixed and I am back on track with my camera :-)We are working on getting out on a boat for a day or maybe overnight but it is proving difficult to find the people to go. Hopefully it will come through as we only have the right tides for the next 2 days then I won't get the chance as I have booked a flight to Hong Kong for the 6th of April. Flights were expensive and hard to get from Hanoi to Hong Kong so I had to go a bit earlier to get a good price, but it is all good. I will spend a few days in Hong Kong, sort out a Chinese visa then head out to Yangshuo for a month or two with all the great folk from Tonsai that are there now. Now I am off to keep chasing people for a boat trip! Wish me luck!

Me with the guys from Sawadee Bar in Tonsai on my final night - I'll miss you guys!
Left to Right - Dap, Lek, Me, Wit & Kong

Me heading into Hanoi in a cab from the airport

The Old Quarter in Hanoi

The lake in the Old Quarter in Hanoi

The main street and waterfront of Cat Ba Town, Cat Ba Island, Ha Long Bay

One of the locals in front of Butterfly Valley, Cat Ba Island

Me taking one of the local water buffalo for a ride

Me on a great 7b arete called 'Prayer Of The Mantis' at Butterly Valley

The floating resteraunts at Ben Bio harbour

Susie having a break on our ride to Cat Ba National Park

Single track, Vietnamese jungle style

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tidal Wave!

Another relaxing day in paradise! I still didn't send my projects, but I am super close so I have rested like crazy all day (read: sat on the beach, slacklined and then played pool for 4 hours haha) and tomorrow I feel should be a success! I think I have mentioned before how every now and again I stop and just take a look around and think about how amazing things are, well my friend Mari who has just left today told me a story of how her grandmother told her many years ago to do the exact same thing so that you never forget all the good times in your life. So now those moments of reflection are called 'Grandma Moments'. I had a nice one today, all of us were playing pool by the beach, slacklining and juggling and I thought about how relaxing it is to be hanging around with some nice people and enjoying the simple things :-)
Time is running short for all of us here in Tonsai. Of our long term crew of about 20 people Mari was the first to leave today with the last being Bjorn-Eric leaving on April 1st. So Tonsai will be a very empty in a short space of time and not a single long termer will be left. Strange thought after being here for so long, to imagine no one I really know being left here at all. But all is not lost, I will be off to Vietnam and should meet up with one or two people I know, and then off to China where I will be meeting up with a heap of folk that have been here in Tonsai this season which will be amazing. Good times ahead!

What an amazing day! I got up and had breakfast on the beach as usual and jumped back on 'Tidal Wave' 7c only to find the last hold so slippery I couldn't let go to clip - devestating. I rested the rest of the day away with some nice Canadian girls I met yesterday, lazed around Railay Beach, had a swim, then a massive storm rolled over the hills. The temperature dropped and it was cool with only a slight easy rain falling so I thought that seeing as 'Tidal Wave' is under a roof I would have another shot. I found the crew sitting in a resteraunt so hooked up a belayer and ran to grab my gear. I went down and got ready and was joined by Hampus to belay me and Pit, Nina, Bjorn-Eric, Ken and Al with beers in hand to spectate. The storm rolled in and everyone moved well under the roof as it started to rain more. I fell on my first shot right at the top but the conditions were great so I rested and then with massive lightning flashing all around striking the islands nearby, thunder booming off the cliffs like a jet breaking the sound barrier and a great little crew of people yelling encouragement at me I finally clipped the anchors! I was soooo soooo happy when I did it and I was stoked to have Hampus there belaying me and all the guys there in support. I think it has to be my most memorable send and one I will never forget. I walked home in the pouring rain with a huge smile on my face the whole way.
That route has taught me a great lesson in patience and hard work. I fell at the anchors, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory about 6 times and just had to smile and say 'next shot' optimistically over and over again. So it was great to finish it after having been denied so many times, I feel like I really earned it. My other project, 'Gilles No Limits' 7c has taught me a lesson too. One of humility. All my friends that have been working it have sent it but I just kept getting shut down by the crimpy crux. I could do it off a rest on the rope but not from the start and now with time here waxing away so quickly I have had to let it go and take my quickdraws off it, a project for my next visit. But I learned a lot from that route so I am still happy with my efforts on it.
With my projects done with now and only 2 days left to enjoy Tonsai I will be doing nothing but spending time with my friends, relaxing on the beach and climbing some fun easy routes so I will leave this place on a high note. It will be sad to leave but I will be back here again one day.
Tomorrow Hampus, Jess and Ken are leaving. Another loss to the family. Jess is back off home to Australia and I can't wait till I get the chance to catch him for a climb and a beer or 2 in Oz when I am home one day - Your a hero man, it has been a pleasure and I can't wait to do it all again! Hampus and Ken are back home to Scandanavia. Hampus is one of the most genuine, friendly, laidback, amazing people I have ever met and I will be making sure I see him again one day. He has been a massive part of my Tonsai experience and someone I wont forget in a hurry - You'll be sorely missed man.
As for tonight we are off to have dinner and drinks for the guys last evening in Tonsai, should be another fun night! The rain is easing off as I type here on my balcony so things are looking set for some fun shenanigans :-)

Me on 'Tidal Wave' 7c - photo taken by Hampus

Wednesday, March 18, 2009



As I write this it is about 8:30pm, we have just finished dinner and I am sitting on my porch with Chris watching yet another tropical storm, but not such a big one tonight. We thought maybe our predictions about the early rainy season were a bit premature as the evening rains abated for a few days but I guess we were right all along haha.
The last few days have been great fun, loads of climbing and loads of psych with everyone sending routes all over the place! I have been feeling great on the rock of late so I am pretty confident of cleaning up my left over projects in my last two weeks here. I have two 7c's and a 7b+ that I am close to finishing so hopefully they will all go down soon. Also I have to do about 20 more routes in my last 2 weeks to reach my little goal of sending 100 routes all up here in Tonsai.
My last few climbing days were great. One was a nice afternoon session doing some easy onsighting at Wild Kingdom with Jess and Ana, the next was a morning on the beach with the whole crew and an afternoon session at Fire Wall with Tom. Then yesterday was a fun morning session at Dum's Kitchen on the beach where I did a nice 7a called 'Good Medicine' then the afternoon was back at Wild Kingdom with Lily, Chris and Jess where I did 'Freedom Safari', a nice 7a on my second shot. Chris and Jess sent 'Breezes Of The Past' a fantastic 7b there, then Lily and I both flashed it! My second 7b flash here and Lily's first ever, so the two of us did a celebratory rope jump off the ledge and headed off for beers :-)
Today was a rest day spent laying on the beach reading books and working on our tans, so tomorrow is going to be a day for sending! Fingers crossed :-)


So projects didn't go down as planned. Hopefully they still will but we had a slight hiccup in the plan, namely two consecutive nights of unforeseen shenanigans that got a bit out of hand haha.
Today is my 3rd rest day in a row, but last night was nought but sleep, as tonight will be, so back on track again tomorrow :-)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The send train is back! (as is the rain...)


I have now officially sat through my first tropical storm! Last night the heavens opened and unleashed a torrent of water from the sky of the likes I have never seen. Water poured from the sky while lightning flashed and thunder roared. The water poured in torrential rivers down through Andaman's while Chris and I sat on my porch watching in awe, all sound drowned out by the pounding of the rain on the tin roof. This morning I went climbing on the beach (Onsighted a nice 6b called 'Cowabungalow' and flashed 'Lal Bab', a bouldery 7a+) and on the way down the road had been carved away and collapsed where the rivers of water had passed through and it has destroyed the main junction of the beach and the road as well as taking about a metre of sand away from underneath the Tonsai Overhang, making all the routes harder to start, some I cant even reach the start hold haha. It is nice and sunny (albeit humid) today again, but it has been raining a bit nearly every afternoon or evening for a little while now so the general consensus between the climbers and the locals is that the wet season is starting early, which isn't all that great, but you can still climb all the steep stuff so it's not the end of the world.
When I got home to my bungalow I saw a young Jungle Monitor browsing through the leaf litter around my bungalow so I snapped a couple of pics of him for uncomfortably close quaters haha, they are like our Goanna's at home but grey/black and grow much bigger, the one I saw was only about a metre long though, just a juvenile.


Today I had the best day of climbing I have had since getting here and I am absolutely chuffed! In the morning I went to the beach and climbed with Bjorn-Eric. We warmed up then I climbed 'Reminiscence' 7a+ on my 2nd shot after falling at the very top on the flash, then I flashed 'Mai Mee Fahn' 7a+. Then in the afternoon I went back to Marley Wall and sent 'Exodus' 7c on what was my 5th shot. I am super happy with sending my first 7c of the trip, I sent it relatively quickly but I had to try pretty hard and fight it a bit so I feel like I earned it haha. What made it even better was that John & Lily both sent it in the same same session, the send train stopped at 3 stations in a row yet again! It is always so good to send things in a group, the psyche just seems endless!
So it seems that the locals think that the rainy season has come early, and I would tend to agree with them. It has rained quite heavily every afternoon or evening for nearly two weeks. It doesnt stop us from climbing as the crags are so steep in general, it only stopped us a little after the massive storm the other night. Generally it just cools the place down in the evening which makes it a bit nicer to sleep at night which is a bonus :-)

A juvenile Jungle Monitor outside our bungalows

Beautiful sunset storm clouds seen through the trees from our bungalows at Andamans

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Visa's, motorbikes and more


Argh, I am so exhausted! I have barely got up a route in days... Chris, Jess and I have been working hard on routes at our limits for the last days. It is good because we are all at about the same level of climbing so we are all working the same routes which is great for psyche. We are all working on a fantastic 7c at Cat Wall at the moment and it is so tiring but we are all doing great on it. I also have a few other 7c's and 7b+'s that I am really close to so we are now taking a rest day or two then back into it... the send train is coming!

Tonight is Max's birthday party. Max is a rad guy from Austria with a confusing Glaswegian accent, such a nice guy. He has organised a private barbeque and party on the beach at Eagle Wall and a boat to ferry us all back and forth, should be a wicked night :-)

Chris and I went to Krabi the other day to extend our visa's. We road a longtail to Ao Nang and hired motorbikes then rode to Krabi, was a blast! After Krabi we headed north along the bay for a while to check out some other towns which was fun. Then we stopped and had a tall Chang and rode home a bit drunk, so funny, especially in the rain and seeing elephants on the side of the rode, funny, funny day :-)

I have just realised I only have 22 days left in Thailand so it is time to knuckle down and finish my projects! Keen as mustard to send some more hard routes, I am climbing harder than I anticipated I would in my time here so I am well chuffed! Here's hoping I can finish up my unfinished business here before I run out of time! :-)

Rachelle coming up 'Chunkey Monkey'

Rachelle at the top of 'Chunkey Monkey'

Carmelita and Keight

Chris chillin' with a Chang somewhere up the bay on our motorbike adventure

Monday, March 2, 2009

Bouldering, finally! haha


The last few days have been great fun!
I went and tried 'Rolling Thunder' when I planned to and came pretty close, should get it pretty soon, and it was a fantastic route! Long, pumpy and with a boulder problem finishing with a dyno at the end... so much fun! Then that afternoon I went to Marley Wall for the first time a tried a great 7c called 'Exodus'. It is just my style and I fell on the very last hard move on my 3rd shot so I will be going back soon to finish it. I am psyched because my goal for the year was 7c+ and being only one grade off my goal in only 2 months is super exciting!
That night we all got pretty drunk and went swimming naked at about 3am haha. We swam way out on the reef (it was ony chest deep though) and swam around in the luminescent plankton, so much fun!
The next day was a rest day naturally due to hangovers haha, but today I went bouldering in the Big Wave Cave (underneath the multi pitch route called 'Big Wave') and it was soooo good! It is only 200 metres from my bungalow so I am a bit annoyed at myself for going sooner but I am psyched because I can train in it so I dont lose power just climbing routes all the time. I did a V5 and two V6's pretty quickly and tried out a few harder things so I am eager to get back and send some hard boulders and get some power going on.
Rachelle and Emily both left today which is sad, then Sam, Elin and Andy all leave tomorrow... its getti g much quieter around here, which is good for getting on routes without the crowds but its sad seeing so many fun people leave. There is still a small core of our little family left who are here for as long as I am so at least I have a solid crew for the rest of my Tonsai time.
Good times :-)