Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Climbing in Ao Nang - Back to Spirit Mountain...

During the very last weekend I came back to Spirit Mountain in Chong Plee after a long pause that kept away from this beautiful crag from more than one year.

The very last time I went there, my climbing partner Supranee May was just a novice and she didn’t even manage to reach the anchor of Ego Free Zone 6a+ top ropping the route.

After one year of extensive climbing all around Railay, Tonsai and Koh Yao Noi we eventually decided to come back to this spot both to celebrate one year of climbing together, and both to test our improvements.

The result was brilliant and unexpected!

On the first day Supranee easily sent Ego Free Zone, on the second day she managed to flash an amazing 6b called Devil’s back bone and not satisfied enough she sent her first 6b On Sight Exfoliation. Eventually on the third morning she even managed to try on lead her first 6c Pil Box discovering a new dimension and pushing her limit forward. Impressive!

On my side, when we arrived at the crag I was immediately flashed by the white color of a beautiful steep vertical short wall on which there is an intimidating route called Tripping, 7b+.

It was love at first sight. Coming down from a 6b I stopped to touch the holds…it looked simply impossible. I tried to figure out a possible sequence but it looked brutal hard and I was about to give up.

The route is divided in three parts, a delicate start with a positive angle, a steep vertical white wall with just 7 hard movements, and a final part on a classic tufa composition. The beginning and the end of the route are around 6b/6b+ while the central part is the real beast.

When I started figuring out the movements another local climber discouraged me suggesting not losing time trying the route because conditions were not good. It was indeed very humid and those little holds looked impossible to take, however I was already committed and I pushed forward.

On day two, after having spotted all the movements and finally having completed the brutal sequence on top rope I decided it was time to add an important date on my climbing records.

After a sleepless night were I was virtually climbing the route the whole night, I came back to the crag and after having set up all the quick draws and accurately clean up all the most important holds I managed to easily send the route.

Tripping is the hardest route I have ever sent, all my gratitude goes to Supranee for her belay and for the motivation she constantly injects me!

What’s next?

Tripping 7b+ - Spirit Mountain, Chong Plee, Ao Nang
Supranee May - after sending Don't tell my mum 6b in KYN

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Climbing in UAE – A daily trip to Hatta…

Recently I went to Dubai to visit my brother who is currently living there and obviously I could not miss the chance to dedicate at least one of my days to a full day of Rock Climbing.

Even though the Emirates might be popular for the amazing Dubai’s skyline and the visionary developments of its costline, it was amazing to discover that within just 1h driving from the city, and immerse in the desert, stands an amazing crag with loads of very nice and diverse routes called Hatta.

Hatta is small destination in the UAE but the Hatta Crag is actually located in Oman a few kilometers after an easy-going border check-point.

Thanks to Facebook group Real UAE rock Climbers I managed to get in contact with some very friendly local climbers, Dana and Ludmil with whom we had a brilliant day of climbing and offered us to drive us up to the crag.

Since I had limited time unfortunately I could not stay longer than I did, however I count to come back again to discover new areas such as RAK, or Wonderwall, Wadi Bih Dibba...they look amazing!

The climbing community in UAE and Oman is growing fast as well as the developments of new climbing areas. A new Climbing Guide Book has been recently released and it can be purchased in the major climbing shops of Dubai as well as online.

If you are planning a climbing trip out of the ordinary classic list, well, I do believe that this side of the world can offer an enchanting mix of amazing rock and unusual landscapes….Have a good desert climbing!

Hiking up
Studying the line

Riccardo on Boy Wonder 6c+

Dana, Ludmil, Ric, Matteo

More pictures are available on my Facebook Page

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Phuket Climbing: Falling Rocks at The Bee Wall in Koh Yao Noi

I would like to inform you that yesterday morning a big piece of rock fell down from the 6a at Bee Wall in Koh Yao Noi and almost transformed our climbing day in a tragedy.

When I was climbing the route I noticed that a big piece of rock was moving a little, I knock it, and as the sound was not very friendly I stopped and I tried to remove it.

Since it was actually impossible to do it I gave up thinking that it might be stable enough or at least it would be better to use a tool such a hammer to remove it.

Few minutes later, when I was belaying my friend Geko who was top-ropping the route, as soon as he stepped on that piece of rock it suddenly fell off to the ground.

Luckily, I was constantly looking up following the climbing progression and I immediately noticed the rock coming down. In a blink of an eye the rock smashed on the floor, I managed to step back right in time but the rock hit my left leg causing me a little wound.

My leg started bleeding, my blood froze and after a few seconds I realized what could have happen if I was not paying constant attention to my climbing partner.

I have been climbing for around 10 years and this is not the first time that such episode happens.  Rock Climbing is a dangerous activity that deserves the maximum attention from all the persons around the crag, climbers and non-climbers. 

We all know it very well but we often forget it, or at least we underestimate the consequences of our negligence.

Yesterday we were very lucky however I would like again to remind you to always take this activity with the right dose of attention.

Have a good climb!


On Red circle the piece of rock few minutes before the accident

The Rock 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Climbing in Phuket, The Sunset Wall !

Following the subject of my previous post, I would like to share with you my latest discovery: an untouched Granite Wall located in NaiHarn, south-west of Phuket.

It happened just a few weeks ago when with my friends I was swimming from Nai Harn Beach toward the little island right in front of it.

As I was not trained enough to accomplish the challenge I stopped, withdraw my head from the water, I looked up and I noticed a very nice vertical wall.

Since then, I have been thinking to go back there, check if there was some real climbing potential and why not, to possibly set up a rope.

Eventually last week I came back for the first time with my friend Flavio and with great surprise I found out that even though the cliff is not that high, it features some amazing potential lines up to 7a…or even more!

Considering the wall is only about 10 meters high I do not think that setting up some bolts would make a lot of sense. Luckily, on the top of the cliff there is a little boulder stable enough to be used to secure a removable anchor and set up a few top ropes.

So far I climbed two lines. The first one could be a 6a and I named it ‘Finger’s skin’. The second one I would say is something like 6c/6c+ and I named it ‘Lucky Period’.

Considering this place doesn't have a name yet…I would like to baptize it as the Sunset Wall!

Everybody is welcome to give it a try! 

Sunset Wall - Nai Harn Beach

Riccardo abseiling the wall for the first time ever

Securing the anchor around a stable boulder

Location: Nai Harn Beach, South West Phuket

Access: Drive up to the Eolic Generator, park your car/bike and walk down the hill where some people are practicing paragliding. Follow the steep path on the right until you get on the edge of the cliff.

Period: The cliff is facing west, therefore it stays on shade in the morning until 12h00. In the afternoon  it will be very hot, however from 4h00pm it is possible to climb again and enjoy the amazing sunset!

Do not forget to bring your swimming suit and snorkeling kit!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bouldering in Phuket: unlock the potential...

Even though Phuket Island doesn't have any climbing spot, all around the numerous beaches on the west cost there are a lot of big granitic boulders to be explored...the video below shows a little example of the amazing potential!

Stay tuned....

Monday, October 21, 2013

Climbing in Koh Yao Noi – The Grateful Wall!

I have been living in Phuket one full year now and I went out Climbing in Koh Yao Noi so many times that I cannot count them on my fingers.

Since I usually prefer climbing on sea side walls, so far my preferred spots were the HD Wall and the Big Tree Wall. Of course The Bee Wall is also very nice and certainly The Mitt is a great spot…however, still I was probably missing the best of it…The Grateful Wall!!!

The Grateful Wall is an amazing cliff standing a few meters above the sea level only reachable by boat and considering it is facing north, thus constantly on shade, it is possible to climb the whole day!

The wall was discovered and bolted by Mark Miner in 2004, it has 10 bolted routes from 6a to 6c+ and it is great for beginners and absolutely amazing for any average climber looking for spectacular lines.

The rock is terribly solid, movements are intuitive and since all the routes have vertical sessions and overhanging passages, the climbing is sustained and trained forearms are necessary to reach the anchors specially while climbing on-sight!

The name of this outstanding wall is dedicated to the famous American rock band The Grateful Dead and climbing Franklin’s Tower (6a+/35m) to ring the bell …it’s a must!

Do not forget to bring a 70m ropes and your swimming suit!

Riccardo on 6c+

The Grateful Wall

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Climbing in Malaysia: Batu Cave and Bukit Keteri....

Climbing in Malaysia is perhaps not so popular among the international climbing community, especially if compared with Thailand, however it has a huge potential that I believe should be taken in a closer consideration.

Being very honest, my personal knowledge was confined with the classic spots of Batu Caves which, beside its famous temple, has a decent number of bolted routes however, a part of it I decided to visit also the areas of Butik Keteri in the province of Perlis next to the borders to Thailand, which seemed to be very interesting and not very popular.

Being surrounded by highways and immerse in the urban district, Batu Caves is probably not the best climbing spot in the world. Nevertheless, even though you will be very far from feeling lost in the middle of a forest or immerse in the deep wild, many walls are featuring very nice lines.

The main crag is indeed the Damai Wall. It is located on the north side of Batu Caves, it is very easy to access, it is in shade from the late morning and therefore it represents the hot spot for many friendly local climbers in particular during the weekends.

The wall is well maintained, it has a number of easy and enjoyable routes and it can guarantee at least two full days of climbing without getting bored.

Butik Keteri it's located on the north side of Malaysia. The best way to reach it is to take an overnight train from KL to Padang Besar. The fare is quite reasonable, only 50 RM for a comfortable berth in superior class and it can be booked online

Since in this area services are very scarce, I strongly recommend anyone going there to get in contact with Mr. Rizuan Khatulpica and to visit his blog at: he is an experienced local guide, very friendly, helpful and with a vast knowledge of the area!

The most interesting spots of the area are of course the K3 hill in Bukit Keteri and the Gua Kelam Big Wall at Kaki Bukit.

Unfortunately due to the absence of many climbers and therefore the scarce maintenance, many of the best routes at K3 are not possible to be climbed because they are literally immerse in the forest, while the Big Wall of Kaki Bukit being located inside a national park is in perfect condition and features amazing long technical routes. Be aware of the bees though...

Supranee May on her first lead at Batu Caves, Damai Wall

Priceless view at K3 hill, north side Cobra Wall

Local climbers at Damai Wall, Batu Cave

Spectacular view of K3 hill in Bukit Keteri

Riccardo, Rizuan, Nadir after climbing at the Big Wall in Kaki Bukit...Nippa rules!!!

Additional pictures can be found on THIS Facebook link, enjoy!!!