Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Climbing in Phuket - Back to Sunset Wall in Nai Harn

After more than one year staying far from this very nice hidden spot I recently spent a few mornings exploring on my own on self-belay trying to identify new possible lines.

Climbing at the Sunset Wall in Nai Harn is probably not a must-to-do thing, however it can still give some nice adrenaline shots and a genuine lesson of technical climbing.

As described in my previous post, there are two clear lines on the left of the wall easily climbable setting up an anchor on a boulder sitting on the top of the little cliff.

A part from these, more on the right there are at least 3 more potential nice lines yet since the anchor is positioned too much on the left side, it is not really convenient to climb on self-belay and even with a belayar, a fall would guarantee a long pendulum.

After a few tries on my own I came back with Maria to help me with the belay. Eventually I managed to send a very nice line that in my opinion is a short and solid 7a.

The route has probably less than 10 powerful movements including an exciting dyno. It starts with some crimps and a right hand side-pull to go on a left hand sloppy hole. From here a pure-strength movement to reach a sharp ledge bring up the feet and re-positioning the body for the dyno. The exit is a very delicate dance on non-existent feel holds and very sharp crimps! The name of this line is…Dynopussy!

Everybody is very welcome to try it and possibly confirm the grade.

Maria abseiling the wall

Maria on Finger's skin - 6a

Dynopussy! - 7a

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Bouldering in Thailand: The Sikhiu Bouldering Festival 2015

During the last weekend I had the honor to join a fantastic event taking place in the north-east of Thailand, The Sikhiu Bouldering Festival.

The event was entirely organized by Camille Guignard, it has already reached the 3rd edition and it saw the participation of hundreds of climbers coming from all over South-Est Asia.

Many of them were expat from France, US, UK, Australia, Switzerland, Ukraine, Italy (only myself actually), while the rest were Vietnamese, Japanese, Singaporean, Cambodian, Malay and of course Thai.

Considering I was the only one representing the Phuket scene, I had no option but to join my good friend Jean Verly and his VietClimb Team.

We met on Friday night in BKK and Dominique led us up to Sikhiu to overnight in a local hotel. From that moment on ward I have no memories of a moment spent without laughing, making jokes, cheering each other and having an absolute great time.

On Saturday morning we all reached the meeting point and we walked up to the boulders’ area were Camille distributed the topos and gave us some basic rules.
The boulders in this area were amazing, probably a little too hard for the average climbing standards but absolutely intriguing and challenging.

In the evening we all drove to a campsite where we had a community dinner, we had the chance to make new friends, discuss about the boulder problems, and we ended up the night watching a great movie Valley Uprising that I am sure gave an extra dose of motivation and climbing obsession to all of us.

On Sunday morning, as soon as we woke up we all discovered to have similar problems such as painful finger, muscular tension, running noses but after a solid breakfast everybody was ready again to move to a new bouldering area.

Considering I had to leave earlier to catch my flight, I tried to make the most of the day only climbing boulders that I could actually do without spending too much time and efforts on hard stuff instead.

I really liked this area, less muscular and more technical, little crimps, slabs, small feet…it was just perfect, I will definitely try to come back again as soonest.

As a whole I think the event was really well organized and a part from the boulders or the singular performances, I believe the most interesting result was actually the international participation and the team spirit.

A big congratulation goes indeed to Camille to all his efforts to organize the event, and to his vision and his indefatigable exploration of the area to find new boulders! Thanks!

Can’t wait for the 4th edition, see you in 2016.

For more information about Bouldering in Thailand visit the page www.boulderingthailand.com 

More pictures can be found at this link: VietClimb - Pics

Monday, November 17, 2014

Climbing in Koh Yao Noi, The season has officially started...

6 months have already passed since the realization of Tripping in Chong Plee and after such a long break spent mostly surfing in Kata beach and Nai Harn beach now my hands are itching again for a new project.

During the last weekend I went out Climbing in Koh Yao Noi with my friend Max but since this was his very first time on rock the plan was to keep it as the Thais say Sabai Sabai…

The first day we went to The Big Tree were we set up a few routes and later we moved to the HD Wall to climb some classic climbs. After we came at our bungalow I realized how easily I climbed those lines so in the night I started thinking about a route I had always seen, but never tried before…White Rice!

White Rice is a 7b located at the extreme right of the Dump Wall, right behind the corner of The Bea Wall. The route was bolted by Mark Miner in 2009 and I believe that since then not many climbers have repeated it…that’s why it inspires me, it looks untouched and only a few chalk-marks are visible.

The route it’s about 25m long. It starts with an easy overhang but in between the second and the third bolt there is already the crux which consist in taking with the left hand a distant sloppy 2 fingers hole while blocking with the right hang a good under-clean, twist entirely the body stay in balance, release the good hold and reach another distant 3 finger under-clean pocket with the right hand. Once this is taken, you need to quickly up your feet on some really sloppy footholds and grab with the right hand a relatively good border.

Once the move it’s complete, you can eventually clip the 3rd quick-draw. Scaring…

After this part there are around 5 meters of a quite easy session in a pumpy overhang. From here there is a full rest and after that there is a second hard session that goes from a balancing move on sloppy feet to a powerful pull and hill-hook to a good hole, from here you can clip, manage to get some energy back and prepare for the last s movement on a very vertical wall with sloppy holes up to the anchor, around 6 meters from here. This session is not even that hard, but coming from a consistent overhang with pumped harms, and balancing up to a vertical wall having not really good holds doesn’t make the entire thing so easy…

On day two I managed to find all the sequence, but I haven’t done any real attempt yet. Unfortunately this crag stays on shade only until 12h00 therefore time is limited…anyhow I will try my best on my next visit.

The climbing season has officially started…!

amazing off-road drive through the rubber plantations

Max and a Giant plant admiring the Bea Wall

White Rice, 7b - Dump Wall Koh Yao Noi

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Climbing in Phuket - A New Climbing Wall in Nai Harn

I am glad to inform you that after a long weekend of hard work we finally moved the climbing wall from Kata and relocated in Nai Harn. 

The original wall has been successfully enlarged adding one more module. Right now it is 2,40 meters high, 3,60 meters long and it features more than 100 holds of different shape and size. 

A big thanks goes Gianfranco, Paolo, Stacy and Waan for the efforts of moving the wall from Kata to Nai Harn, and to Max and Alessandro for the great help given to cut the wood, screw the nuts, hammer the nails and complete the rest of the hard job...Infinite Thanks to ALL of YOU!!!

The wall is now located in Baan Trisuk, Soi Samakki 2 Nai Harn. 


From Chalong: drive toward Rawai and after the gasoline station turn right at the traffic light. Drive straight on Sai Yuan until on the right hand side you spot Soi Samakki 2 (in front of a 7Eleven). Keep on going until you see the Somakee Village on the left, slow down, keep on going 200m and on your right side you will find Baan Trisuk access.

From Kata: after passing the elephant camps and and 50 meters after the Phuket Residence, turn on the left on Soi Samakki 2. Pass the the Lion Muay Thai and keep on going around 300 meters until you spot a Purple House on the right hand-side. Slow down, keep on going 10 more meters and on the left you will find Baan Trisuk access.

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