Near Krabi, You Can Rock Climb Cliffs!

The sky opened up, and it began to pour, but we were all protected by the overhanging cliffs above.

Thailand Krabi jungle 1
PHOTO Anna Carey

My rubber-toed shoes locked into a crevice along the rocky cliffs and I made a rapid grab for a crag a few feet above my head. Heart racing, head dripping with sweat, I looked down below at my belayer and friends watching from the bottom. I looked above too – I was about halfway up the wall. After a few-second breather, I started back up, looking where to make my next move on my path to the top.

I had rock climbed before, but it had been at summer camp and on a perfectly vertical wooden structure, punctuated by fake rubber rocks. Although the manufactured version was undoubtedly fun at the time, it has nothing on Mother Nature’s wall here in Thailand. The area is known for good rock climbing, so a few friends and I decided to trek out to a nearby cliff and try it out. Equipped with rope, belays, harnesses, and climbing shoes, two Scottish guys – Lawrence and Mike – led us to the spot a few minutes away. (They had both found themselves turning a vacation in Thailand into a permanent stay – the story of many Westerners living here.)

Thailand Krabi jungle 2
PHOTO Anna Carey

After parking and unloading the gear, we weaved our way through the forest until we came upon a giant wall of rock that towered into the grey sky. Immediately, Lawrence and Mike began scaling the wall and setting up the ropes for belays. I felt a little nervous at first because I was putting my trust in ropes these guys had set up in five minutes. And something about not having to sign a waiver and paying just 200 Baht (between 6 and 7 US dollars) for three hours of climbing seemed a little shady. But I was beginning to get used to the laid back sentiment that seemed to pervade all of Thailand. It was a welcome departure from the lawsuit-ridden, hyper-stressed United States.

Whether or not it was entirely rational, I put aside my reservations, strapped into a harness, and touched my toe to the base of the wall. I climbed up the first bit without a struggle but quickly began to hit some difficult stretches. At a couple points, I found myself trapped in one spot without a clear upward route, unable to find a handhold or foothold. Panting heavily and with quivery muscles, I shocked myself again and again at each sudden burst of strength I managed to exert in order to push myself upward. Before I climbed, I decided I would reach the top no matter what. It’s always surprising to me how a simple resolution like this can cause one to surpass his or her own physical capabilities. It was always just one more push upward, and then I’d be closer to reaching my goal.

Thailand Krabi jungle 3
PHOTO Anna Carey

Finally, I reached the top of the rope, let out a long exhale, and looked out above the treetops, basking in my accomplishment. One last deep breath of the air above, and I leaned back to ascend. When my feet touched the ground, I could still feel the adrenaline rush overwhelming my body and forgot the debilitating exhaustion I had experienced at the top. At that moment, I heard a few drops of rain hit the trees nearby. The sky opened up, and it began to pour, but we were all protected by the overhanging cliff above. All around us, we were surrounded by a watery blanket that sandwiched us with the wall, so we stayed dry. Typical of Thailand rainy season, it stopped raining after ten minutes, but the feeling of being surrounded by rain only added to my sense of adventure and accomplishment at having moved beyond my own limitations to reach the top.

Article written by Anna Carey.

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