After a few not-so-fun climbs around Railay, we hit the jackpot when we wandered north to Tonsai for the day.
We clambered up to the base of Fire Wall at just around 11:30a. The sun was gone, and the area was in deep shade, but a thick lingering heat still filled the jungle below the crag. You could feel the burn coming off of the rock. We were the only ones there, though. Amazing!
The Groove Tube (5.10a) – We had at least 5 people ask us if we had done The Groove Tube before the end of our first week in Railay. Evidently this climb is at the top of the super-mega-ultra-must-do climbs list for the area. I’m giving the route a grade of 10a, which is the closest YDS grade to the book’s given 6a grade. But Mark and I both agreed, this route was barely more than 5.8, in all likelihood. And it was fun!
There are a few lovely, unique things about this climb. One is it’s obviously interesting morphology – you start by squirming through a tight chimney (really a giant pocket in the limestone) and then stem your way up through a cool tube formation, covered in giant pockets. The other is the protection. The bolts in Thailand are not always great, and this climb is protected entirely by bits of climbing rope threaded through the rock and tied off.
As we were climbing, the inevitable crowds descended upon us. But this time, we met up with a bunch of fun climbers. We met a couple from California, Kyle and Briana, who are starting a 2-year long around-the-world trip. We hung out with everybody for the afternoon, swapped stories and belays, and had a really great time.
Boob Tube (5.10c) – After our go on the Groove Tube, Mark led up this climb just to the left. It was lots of fun too. It starts with a cruxy overhanging section where you climb up giant stalactites, and then transitions into a long vertical pockety funness. Another crux comes further up where you have to stem up to below a chimney and then make a committing lunge for what turns out to be a good jug. Highly recommend this route as well.
We were looking for a couple of fun routes to tick off before heading to cooking lessons later, so we wandered down towards 1,2,3 Wall again, hoping to find some of the low-tide climbs. Amazingly, we ran into Kyle and Briana again, and ended up following them to a little out-of-the-way crag called Kochel Rock.
With You, Liebelein (5.10b/c) – There were four routes on this little wall, and nobody around when the four of us showed up. Mark led up the righthand climb, while Briana led the lefthand one. All of the routes on this wall had recently had bad bolts replaced with shiny new ones, and the guidebooks were still out of date. So, the area had not seen much traffic, and we got a good dose of Limestone sharpness on these routes. They were covered in knife-like texture, but lots of fun!
One for you, one for me (5.10c) – We TR’d this route from the anchors just left of With You, Liebelein. It started with a 20ft long overhanging finger/hand crack, and finished with thin, sharp moves on a gently overhanging face. Mark whizzed up this one, feeling super-strong and made it look beautiful and easy. I got about halfway up and decided to give up before I was bleeding too much on the route. Briana worked it out and said she enjoyed it as well.
Unknown 6a (5.10a) -The route on the far left of the rock, that Briana put up in the morning, was more fun for me. I started massively off route, but rearranged myself and finished strong, it was a fun one. Mark enjoyed it as well, but felt this was one of the harder routes of the day for him. I disagree completely. With more vertical, balancy moves, it definitely played more to my strengths than any of the other climbs on the wall.