Well today we arrived in Bangkok, back from Mae On a little town bout 45 minutes out of Chang Mai and the home to one of northern Thailand’s best crags. We have just spent 10 days climbing at Crazy Horse Buttress. This place has it all; slabs, vertical faces, steep over hanging power endurance routes and all with in a 2.5 square kilometre area.
We arrived after being in Borneo climbing a mountain and we hadn’t been on rock for a couple of weeks. New crags and new rock, always a trying time when you are fresh off the lounge. We were staying at a place recommended by some people we met in Koh Yao Noi, a lovely couple Ingrid and Maurice. They said “you have to stay at La Bhu Sala! Its gorgeous and its an artisan’s retreat.” So we thought lets do it……..fabulous and priced just right.
After settling into our bungalow and having a brief wander around the grounds we received our scooter and decided to go and find the crag and eat. Karine had been here before and was excited to be back. We ate at Jira Homestay and Restaurant……this is the normal climbers retreat and accommodation in the area. Its cheap and the food is good. La Bhu Sala is a little more upmarket and its more like a Thai B&B, however it is owned by a very famous Thai chef by the name of Vatcharin Bhumichitr (Vatch).
After a travel day we decided a slow start for our first crag day would be good. We just wandered up to Crazy Horse and jumped on some very easy routes to familiarise ourselves with the terrain and the area. After a couple of 5’s I decided to step it up a bit and jumped on the 6b and totally got my arse handed to me completely. Off the ground this thing was absolutely nails……….Karine and I laughed as she caught me falling from the first bolt. Dejected I pulled through on the draw and finished the route.
The next day we headed to The Furnace and did another couple of 5’s to start the day, then jumped on what I read in the guide as a 6a………wrong again!!! This route was new and not in the guide book we had. Found out later that day it was a 6b+ and a sandbag according to the locals. More like 6c apparently. Oh well, time to get a bit of a kick in the pants by the look of it. LOL 🙂
Our first rest day after being truly humbled on the walls of Crazy Horse, we decided to head out into the provence and sight see. We saw hot springs, temples, markets and little coffee houses and of course the stunning and angular Thai rice fields. We found a great coffee place (instant was all we could get at our accom) and soaked up the flavour.
We tried Yacon, a thai fruit that is sweet to the taste and crunches like apple. It was beautiful. Thai sausage was the order of the day for lunch and we devoured it with a purpose fitting of two starving animals. Karine is a passionfruit fiend and we brought a bag of about two dozen of them for 20 baht. We then head out to Doi Satek, Vatch had told us the ride through the hills was fabulous. Teak house were spied and photos were taken. It was a great way to rest and we retired early with a new goal in mind for the morning.
We headed out to The Furnace again to get on the 6a and 6a+ that we liked the look of and had a ball on them. The crag is named accordingly as the sun actually heats the rock to the point where it almost burns in the late morning. After our morning we headed up into the bottom of the State Anxiety Crisis Cave and climbed all the low grade routes there for the afternoon. Quiet and cool, silent and haunting is an apt description of the cave. The rock was all coral rock and weirdly appealing i its nature…..a great day out climbing.
We met a couple from Kuala Lumpur who were staying where we were and started to hangout a bit. We all headed up to Heart Wall for the day as we hadn’t been there before and people were raving about it. Walking into the crag and this huge steep wall opening up was amazing. Its about the same size as The Mitt on Koh Yao Noi but very different rock formations. Lots of cracks and bouldery weirdness as well.
We warmed up on the right on a few cruisy rules and then I jumped on a 6c and fell at the crux and then jumped bacon and finished the route. Karine wanted to do this 36 metre 6a+ on the main wall and we wandered over and it was free. I tied in and off I went up this slightly overhung face. Venturing into no hands knee bars five metres off the ground I found very funny, then up onto a series of tufa’s that were huge, through a channel and onto a ledge the size of a small dining table…….and this was the first twenty metres or so. Simply stunning climbing at the grade and beautiful to boot. Did the 6b to the left next and that was awesome too.
Karine and I both now felt we had a feet and were ready to tackle a couple of routes that we wanted to attempt……what the routes were we were still unsure of but we had a goal at least. That night was a little chilly and we all rugged up a bit. We had dinner with Yo and Su May and talked about heading back up there the next day to do some more routes.
Good night from Mae On, Northern Thailand 🙂