My biggest draw to Krabi, Thailand was to try out their legendary Deep Water Soloing (climbing over deep water without ropes. If you fall, congrats on your first cliff dive!). We went with Tonsai base camp for their reasonably priced day trip. It was easily one of the most fun things I have ever done!
We started out at the shop at 9:15 am picking out a pair of raggy old shoes from their huge assortment and then hopped on a longtail boat out to Chicken Island, a group of enormous boulders in the middle of the ocean strung together by white sand beaches. When we got there, we were presented with massive rock faces with small rope ladders bolted to them at the base. One by one, we climbed up the first ladder onto the easiest route of the day, probably around a 5.8. We could climb as high as we wanted and when we were ready to come down, we went from climbing to cliff-jumping! It was a serious adrenaline rush.
After the first climb, you could swim to any of the 3 ladders and give a shot at the other routes. Each ladder had at least two route options, and really you could climb anywhere on the face you wanted. We slowly built up our confidence, pushing towards the limits of our strength and the height of the drops. At one point, Allie was so focused on working a hard route that she didn’t realize how high she had climbed. Well-above her comfort zone, she excitedly finished the route and then turned around to find an even bigger “oh shit” moment awaiting.
We had a lunch break on a nice beach hidden between two cliffs where we could grab snorkel gear and explore the little bay afterwards if we wanted before heading out to the last area, Spider-Man wall.
Spider-Man wall is definitely a no-beginners climb. Most people on our boat were content just to sit and watch. There was one rope ladder and two routes. The route to the right was a moderate but extremely high traverse. The climbing was not too difficult, but building up the courage to make the 60-70 foot jump was damn near horrifying. The route to the left was possibly the coolest climb I’ve ever done in my life, but also very sketchy and not worth attempting if you aren’t fully confident you’ll make it. Sorry in advance for the upcoming climbing lingo! After climbing an easy 50 feet above the water, you come to a traverse (sideways climb) where you have to do a series of balance moves on moist, slopey sidepulls, slowly moving foot over foot on tiny foot jibs (almost unseeable pebble-like footholds). So what’s so sketchy about the route? Behind you, during the toughest of moves is a huge stalactite that you’ll most likely smack hard into if one of your wet shoes slips, or your unchalked, sweaty palms loses its grip. So then what was so cool about the route? Provided you made it to the far end of the stalactite without decapitating yourself, the next move is to just about do the f***ing splits off the wall and onto the stalactite, a sizeable gap, where you then reach your hand across the void to find a nice crimp and launch the rest of your body onto the beautiful feature hovering elegantly over the turquoise waters. In the end, only me and one other guy from our group made it. I’m sure a few of the others could have done it, I think they were just smarter than the two of us. After jumping down from that route, my confidence was sky-high and I was ready to climb up to the other side to take the 70-foot plunge before taking the longtail back to Tonsai for a big dinner and some much-needed sleep.