DMM Alpha Quickdraw Review
Thailand Sport Climbing
Area & Style of Climbing
Phra Nang Peninsula – Sport Climbing
The two most developed areas for climbing in Thailand; Railey beach and Tonsai beach are located on the Phra Nang peninsular in the Southern Thai province of Krabi.
Great sport climbing destination for the traveling climber. Tropical limestone with loads of wild tufa and stalactite formations giving you a 3D climbing experience. There’s a wealth of steep single-pitch power endurance routes, plus a bunch of truly memorable multi-pitches overlooking the Andaman sea. All this minutes from the beach and bars.
As the vast majority of the climbers are travelers, often on their own, you can pretty much just turn up and be guaranteed to find a partner out there.
Celine de Waal Malefijt on the super classic Burnt Offering (F7a+), photo by Rosa Rovekamp
Best Time to Go & Conditions
The best times to go as far as temperatures are concerned are the winter months (November – April). However, this is also the high season with climbers and non-climbers alike migrating away from their cold, dark homelands. This inevitably will mean higher prices, possible difficulties finding accommodation, queues on more popular routes etc.
The low season runs from May to October, with May said to be the hottest month.
Rainfall - June to October is supposed to be the rainy season. However, bear in mind this is the tropics, it can rain any time. I never had much of a problem with rain as it tended to be short and sharp, with a quick drying time. Also, some walls are so steep there are routes that are always dry.
If you fly into Bangkok from the UK you've got several options of getting to Krabi town:
1. Fly from Bangkok to Krabi airport (most expensive but fast and comfortable).
2. Take the overnight bus from Bangkok to Krabi town (cheapest option).
3. Take a train to from Bangkok to Surat Thani (~150km North of Krabi town), then take a bus to Krabi town (more expensive and time consuming than a night bus, but some people vouch for its comfort).
Either way, once you’re in Krabi town you need to find a longtail boat to take you to Railey / Tonsai beach. These beaches located on the Phra Nang peninsula are only accessible by boat. The boats will generally drop you off at Railey. The two beaches are separated by a short (10-15min) steep walk over a little hill.
Virtually all the climbs are within 30min walk from either of the beaches.
Accommodation & Provisions
You either stay in Railey or Tonsai. Railey is much more developed and expensive. Most climbers who stay out there for a while (and there are quite a few) seek the more basic accommodations in Tonsai. Reservations are generally not taken in budget accommodations although in low season this won’t be a problem (you’ll all end up staying in the same place that’s open). I stayed in my own bamboo bungalow in Tonsai with shower and toilet for about £1 a night in low season.
Eating out will add a few more quid to your daily budget (again low season prices). There’s really not much point in cooking for yourself unless you plan on living there for a year.
I would recommend taking all your climbing gear with you as the climbing shop there will be a bit limited in stock. A single 60m rope, 14 quickdraws should suffice for most things.
There are several available in the UK, these also available locally:
Thailand - King Climbers Guide
Thailand - a Climbing Guide (Mountaineers Books, 2005)
Rock Climbing in Thailand (Limark, 2007)
The area has recently seen development in the discipline of Deep Water Soloing. Topo's are available for purchase on the following website:
Some of the local climbing schools organise kayak trips to show you the spots:
All books cover some of the other areas in Thailand or neighboring countries.
Grade Spread and Recommended Routes If you operate in the F6b to F7c mark, the area should be ideal for you. Although if you fall just outside this range, you should still find stuff to do. There are also courses run by local climbers for complete beginners.
Humanility (5, 6a+, 6b, 6b+, 6b, 6a) – One of THE multi-pitch climbs in the area. The crux 4th pitch is the one everyone talks about – The best beta I can give is: If you find yourself half way up a pitch staring at a particularly blank section of wall, look behind you.
Ao Nang Tower (6b, 6b+, 6c) – A tower of limestone jutting out of the sea. You’ll either have to kayak out there, or arrange one of the longtail boatmen to take you there (and more importantly to pick you up).
Babes in Thailand (7a) – Classic of the area and entry route for Tonsai roof, where there is a concentration of grade 7s and lowers 8s. Steep, but with multiple hands-off rest opportunity.
April Fools (7b) – Like many of the routes in Cat Wall, you’ll start off from an airy ledge so the exposure is amazing. Like many of the climbs in the region it's steep but with good holds.
Image right: The Lion King (6c+)
Take a lot of chalk; you will be sweating like never before.
The majority of the popular routes have been rebolted in recent years. However, exercise caution as the tropical climate combined with the sea air is very harsh on fixed gear. Check the guide book or ask one of the locals who run the climbing school / shops.
Rest Days - A nice way to spend your rest day(s) is scuba diving. There are various diving schools in nearby Ao Nang (short 15min long-tail boat ride), or visit Phi Phi Island (regular ferries from Krabi town). You might as well take advantage of the tropical sea and diving is a great way to relax those tired climbing muscles.
Local Travel Info: www.railay.com/railay/intro
Currrent Local Weather Conditions