As soon as I finished up my brief intro to Thailand in Koh Lanta, I immediately hopped on a boat and sped over to the climbers mecca of Thailand, Railay/Tonsai Beach. The Railay beach area is made of three different bays, with the beach in each bay having a unique character. West Railay is the ritzy beach, with lush resorts and infinity pools. East Railay is the mid-range beach, with the main boat dock and a handfull of restaurants. And Tonsai is the undeveloped, dirty, raw and rambunctious climbers beach – filled with backpackers on a mission to relax at the low key beach bars at night, and rock climb the surrounding soaring limestone cliffs all day. Given how built up the rest of the area feels, Tonsai is a breath of fresh air, a utopian climbers oasis, as yet still untouched by the resort and tourism development. To get from Koh Lanta to Tonsai, I took a big ferry across, and met a few friends along the way. I arrived at West Railay beach by boat, and immediately made my way over to Tonsai to check in at my own private bungalow for $4/night. Naturally, first stop in Tonsai was for food. And where else but Mama’s Chicken, the best chicken in the universe. Mama’s Chicken is a small shack along one of the main dirt paths into the jungle, and it’s where lots of people congregate at night. All the food, and fruit shakes, is amazing. And a perfect end to a solid day of travel at one of the beachside bars. During the day this place is a chillout spot and volleyball match grandstand, evening it’s a bar, and late night the deck turns into an impromptu hostel. Something for everyone, with cheap beer all around. Day two, the first order of the day is of course climbing on the incredible limestone. Here’s me getting to the cruxy section on “Groove Tube” on the Firewall. A few days later, I got rid of my harness and gear and went bouldering – but this time the bouldering was on rock outcroppings over the water, and the start of every climb was straight out of the water – it’s called Deep Water Solo in Thailand. Me! Later afternoon exploring secluded beaches and caves. Overal, the week I spent rock climbing at Tonsai was simply incredible, and I can’t wait to go back. It’s certainly a climbers paradise, with more culture, friends, good food, cold drinks, and climbs than you can possible take in during one trip. Let me know if you’d like to go back with me!
This weekend I headed out with a large group of friends to The Gunks, one of the premier climbing areas in the east. We camped at the “multiple use area” campground, and climbed mainly in the Peterskill area. From TheMountainProject.com: The Gunks (short for Shawangunks) is one of the premier climbing areas in the country. Located near New Paltz, NY, the Gunks is about 85 miles from the NYC metropolitan area, making it a popular weekend destination. The rock is quartz conglomerate, solid rock with horizontal rather than vertical cracks. Climbing at the Gunks is characterized by roofs, jugs, traverses, big air, and sometimes “sporty” pro. The Gunks is famous for great one-to-three-pitch climbs of all levels of difficulty. You’ll find some of the best easy and moderate trad climbs in the country at the Gunks. There are a few bolted climbs at the Gunks, but no sport climbs. We had a great time, and here are a few photos. Photos: (Click here for full screen slideshow) Camping at the multi-use area was fairly easy, although finding it is not be best in the dark! Departing from NYC in the late afternoon on Friday, we finally made it up there in the dark. Using The Bistro/EMS gear shop as a landmark, we eventually found the campsite area, and had a fun time hiking in the dark for a bit down to the campground.
Another incredible climbing video from Black Diamond. Sonnie Trotter and Tommy Caldwell free climb the first ascent of The Shining. Interesting to see them drilling and bolting pitches, and how they handle the cameras while climbing. Also, holding together 5.13+ in a snowstorm is pretty amazing. Article from BD Black Diamond athletes Tommy Caldwell and Sonnie Trotter redpointed their multi-pitch project on Canada’s Mount Louis this past August. The main headwall (referred to as the Diamond Face) is a stacked beast with the following pitches: 5.12+, 5.12+/13-, 5.13+, 5.12-, 5.12+, 5.11+, 5.10, all of which they bolted on lead. Here is the video that Sonnie edited together for us that documents the challenges and adventures that come with tackling such a high-end endeavor in the Canadian Rockies. BD athletes Sonnie Trotter and Tommy Caldwell free climb first ascent of The Shining (IV 5.13+) in the Canadian Rockies from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.
Great video today from Adidas, of Sasha DiGiulian’s insanely hard first female ascent of Pur Imagination, in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge. This is actually where I grew up climbing too – although definitely not doing routes like this.. Sasha DiGiulian. “Pure Imagination” 5.14d (9a). from Adidas Outdoor on Vimeo. Filmed and Edited by: 3SM Music by: Emancipator (www.emancipatormusic.com) On October 15th 2011, Adidas team athlete, Sasha DiGiulian became the first American women to climb the grade 9a (5.14d) with her historic ascent of “Pure Imagination” in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge. Keith Ladzinski and Andy Mann (Three Strings Media) were there to capture her efforts and tell her story.
Mt. Massive pictures…. summary online soon.