Friday, January 20, 2012


Anchored long tail boat on Tonsai Beach.

View from the Cat Wall. Photo Jonathon Spitzer.

Jonathon and I went to Southern Thailand in mid-December for 3 weeks of climbing, swimming, tanning, and vacationing. After 24 hours of travel, we ended up on the famous Tonsai Beach and wondered up the hill to our little bungalow. Within hours we ran into our friend Dylan and the adventures began.

Dylan drinking a delicious coconut shake.

Tonsai is all that its talked up to be. Steep limestone climbing right off the beach, beautiful views, short approaches, complete with reggae blasting from all the bars. And lets not forget the endless fruit smoothies. We began the trip very motivated and were climbing close to 10 pitches a day, with a bit of a siesta around lunch time. As our sport climbing muscles got stronger we started trying harder routes and were only able to do 3 or 4 climbs a day. Also the heat is a bit of a motivation killer.

Climbing the crux pitch on Humanality. Photo Dylan Taylor.

Sending on muscle beach.

Or not

Tufas big enough for sitting on!

Some of our favorite crags were the Keep, the Thaiwand Wall and the Cat Wall. All the climbs on Tonsai beach were pretty great and made for some good people watching too. Although I could do without all the crowds.

The scene on muscle beach. Photo Jonathon Spitzer.

Hot pan on Christmas Eve! Photo Dylan Taylor.

New Years Eve.

Tonsai Beach

One of the best days was out at Ko Yawabun. It is a half hour boat ride from Tonsai and once we reached the island, you literally climb right out of the boat on a fixed line! This took us to the start of “To the Members” on the ThaiTanium Wall (4 pitches of steep 5.11). The views were unreal and the exposure was awesome. After rappelling back to the fixed line, I took myself off the rope, sent my shoes and chalkbag down with Jonathon and jumped the final 30 feet into the ocean. It was exhilarating! For more info see:

Dylan jugging the fixed line to the base of the climb. Photo Jonathon Spitzer.

I love the taste of chalk! Photo Dylan Taylor.

Resting in a cave before the final crux move on pitch 2. Photo Dylan Taylor.

Rich pulling Jonathon into the boat. Photo Dylan Taylor.

The speedy descent! Photo Dylan Taylor.

Our boat driver, Cleft, navigating the stormy seas on our trip home. Photo Dylan Taylor.

We detoured to this beautiful beach on Chicken Island to wait out the squall. Photo Dylan Taylor.

For the final 5 days of our trip, we teamed up with our friend Jeanna and headed to the island of Ko Loa Liang. We left Tonsai in the middle of a massive monsoon. The sky was letting go of heavy, warm rain. We weren’t sure if we would even make it to this next island. However,, the seas were calm on the boat ride out of Tonsai and we made it to Ao Nong soaking wet. We convinced our group to spend the night in Krabi and so we could dry out. We took in the sites and experienced a little Thai culture by checking out a temple and going to the night market.

Hmmm, what to eat....

The next day we took several van rides to a different part of southern Thailand. It reminded me a bit of traveling in Mexico but everything was in Thai and not Spanish.

Random bus stop somewhere in Thailand.

Eventually we turned into someone’s driveway and we were at the dock. The hour long boat ride was beautiful.

Eventually we arrived to Ko Loa Liang. This island has one low-key resort and is capped at 40 people. Upon arriving, I immediately knew we were entering pure tropical paradise.

It was a glorious couple days filled with sea kayaking and climbing. Unlike Tonsai, it was not crowded at all. No lines for climbs and an empty beach. This was my kind of scene. The only downside was the pretty terrible food (I’m the least picky eater I know!) and the quality of the climbing, e.g. I broke a jug and took an exciting 30 foot fall. But it’s all part of the adventure. It was a great way to spend our last couple days in Thailand.

Jeanna and I returning from sea kayaking. Photo Jonathon Spitzer

Final Sunrise on Ko Loa Liang

Good night.

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