Finally the rain has stopped for a few days, it’s time to get ready and go jungle climbing in south Thailand. Tomorrow we plan to reach the summit of this amazing limestone pinnacle in our backyard. There are thousands of these mini-mountains in south Thailand. Most of them have never been climbed. By height they would classify only as hills, though their difficulty and time needed to ascend, make them “mini-mountains” for me. In the last years these mountains have become my passion. It’s a mixed form of climbing that involves trad, a few fixed anchors, free climbing and a machete!!!! I call it jungle-trad or jungle-mountaineering..!!!
Like all mountaineering it’s important to be prepared, but too much gear in the jungle can be a hassle. If the bag is too big and heavy, firstly it will be very hard to lug through the hot & humid jungle, but most importantly you will get stuck constantly with branches and vines. Also always bring plenty of water, best to also have one or two bottles frozen, this way you have cool water all day long. We packed our gear and provisions for the day, and we are off.
time to begin
I usually start my climbs around 8-9 am. You don’t want to go to early because then there will be loads of mosquito’s. We started heading up the steep slope and quickly the bush became impenetrable. It was time to take out my best friend, the machete. Its hard work finding a new way through the dense undergrowth, so we took turns route finding and chopping. Quickly we were soaked in our sweat and a few mosquito’s had found us. In certain seasons there are so many mosquito’s that you cannot stop, you have to press on otherwise you will be engulfed in a cloud of them. Once you reach high ground and there is a breeze, they are gone, and one can relax and enjoy the views.
2 hours of working our way up the slope we finally reached the first wall. It’s time to take out the gear and work out a route. The climbing was not too difficult 5c/6a, and plenty of places to put protection. The limestone in this area offers many possibilities for natural protection. Though while climbing, some cleaning must be done; loose rocks, dead leaves, vines, and earth.
After a few rope lengths we reached an upper valley. From here there were a few more rope lengths. The final bit to reach the summit was along an extremely sharp ridge. The first section was covered in vines which made navigation very difficult. The brush is very dense, so it is very important to mark the way as you go up, on decent finding the same path can be very difficult, and possibly leading you in the wrong way.
the last leg
Once we passed this last overgrown section the ridge was free and exposed. The rock is generally very good up here, but there are still many loose rocks/boulders. The only way to climb these sections is by free-solo. Apart from the plant life, the rock is so sharp it would easily cut through any rope.
Finally after +4hours we reached the summit of about 350m. It was an awesome feeling……what a view…simply stunning!!!!
… now its time to relax a little, recharge, rest and eat…….we still got to get back down…..!!!!
The journey back down on these Jungle Mountains take almost as long as to go up. Also by this point it is really hot and maybe you are running out of water. It has happened to me. When the rock is clean you can abseil, but if there is to much plant life then you need to carefully down climb or your rope might get stuck…….which has also happened to me…hahaha
What an awesome day, can’t wait until the next adventure… jungle climbing in south Thailand …>!!!!!
You can climb almost anywhere from Chumphon province all the way down to Trang and Phattalung province. There are rock monoliths everywhere. Though if you are climbing within National Park boundaries, permissions to do so are required beforehand. Especially if you are planning on bolting. If the land is not in Nation Park area, then it is on private land. If you are passing through private land to get to the mountain, try and ask for permission from the locals first. Don’t worry in remote areas the locals are always very friendly and helpful. The mountains generally belong to the King, and their tops are sacred. So please treat them with respect.
getting there and away
To get to south Thailand from Bangkok, you can either take the train or bus to get to Chumphon. If you want to go further south then you can fly either to Krabi or Trang. From there if would be best to rent a motorbike to explore the back-lands of these provinces. If you want to explore the Phang Nga or Phattalung area, you need to get there by bus or by van from the cities mentioned above. People in the latter areas speak very little English so it might be good to book a room ahead of time.