Gossip Column

Caroline George reports in from ThaiTanium Wall

Girly Guide and First Ascent athlete Caroline George has already had a busy 2011, and we’re only halfway through February! Just days after returning from Antarctica where she logged five FAs, she got on a plane to go climb in Thailand. Here’s her latest report from the far East, thanks to our sponsors First Ascent for the share!

Climbing out of a boat is the ultimate Thai climbing experience in my book. It had to be done and we did it.

We wanted to climb a multipitch route above the water that was far enough away that we would be the only ones there. ThaiTanium Wall on Ko Yawabun offered all of the above and more. A 30-minute boat ride from Tonsai took us to the island of Ki Yawabun in the middle of the Andaman Sea where the four-pitch route “For the Members” (11b, 11b, 11c, 11a) is located. It’s in the shade all day and was bolted in 2006 with titanium bolts – the new hope for lasting bolts on ocean side cliffs, hence the name of the wall.

Our boatman pulled in close to the wall at the base of the fixed ropes, which you climb up to the first belay stance to avoid the huge overhang at the start of the route. Adam – my husband and super hero rigger! -  jumared up the really beaten up fixed lines. As it says in the guidebook, “I think we can dub this fixed pitch “Squeal Like a Pig.” The ropes are so old that it seems a given that they will snap once loaded. At least the landing in the water wouldn’t hurt too much. Deep water jumaring?

Adam fixed another rope and we all jumared up, trying to stay out of the water as we swung out of the boat. The route is overhanging the whole way, and all you can see beneath you is the boat and beautiful dark green water. It climbs up tuffas and pockets that seem so big that you could almost sit in them. Sarah and I swung leads up this impressive line. Since it doesn’t see much traffic, the rock is really sharp. Unlike other climbs, the higher we got the warmer it felt.

After toping out, we still had to rappel down the overhanging face. We had to back clip some of the bolts to make it to the anchor below without being lost in space. The rappel was the coolest though as we rappelled straight into the boat! We finished the day with a welcome dive off the boat before heading back to Tonsai, driving by some of the most beautiful white sand beaches I have ever seen.

Caroline is now in Jordan, and will be reporting on her climbing adventures there as well for First Ascent, which we will make sure to post for you here on Chicks!

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