Eco-climbing in Thailand

Jai Dum. It translates into black heart. But it is also the name of one of the best hard routes in southern Thailand, namely right on the beach at Tonsai.

I went to Tonsai to discover climbing on the beach, and enjoy the soft Thai life, and people. Grilled chicken, banana lassi, spicy egg noodles, and the ever so delicious Thai pancakes.

I also traveled to Thailand to write an article for the Swedish magazine Outside not only about the climbing scene, but also the environment. Most of us know very little of how these friendly Asian people react to the all increasing environmental pressure that is put upon us. So, do they react in any particular way? Are they as aware about the threatening
environmental pollution as we are in Europe? I’d say yes and maybe. Yes when it comes to regional and local work, but only maybe for more long term, sustainable and global work. Some of the poeple I talked to during the trip seemed to be honestly conserned, and very aware, of the environmental threat we are facing. But on the other hand, I also met people that didn’t care squat. For example: one restaurant “happened” to release its sewage straight out to the beach. Team Norway reacted very quickly though and confronted the owner, and prompted him to take care of the sewage internally.

Tonsai beach, right next to Freedom bar, a very relaxed place perfect for a moment of peace and calm watching the sunset over the Andaman sea. It’s also the perfect place if you like to watch some late night sendings on the steep routes in the roof next to the bar. Here is a guy trying Tidal Wave 7c, which might be one of the most frequently climbed routes in the world. It has almost constant traffic throughout the day, except for a few hours at mid day.

Humanility 6b is an excellent four pitch route above Freedom bar. Many climbers are astound when they reach the crux on the third pitch. Suddenly all the features for both hands and feet are gone. Gone. Unless…

Classic sunset photo, I know, but nevertheless pretty?

View over Tonsai beach with its grand wall. To the right is the magnificent Thaiwand wall with several multipitch routes of good quality. Maad, a Tonsai beach resort manager, told me that Tonsai is quite unique; it’s one of very few beaches in the region that has real forest growing all the way down to the beach. Usually there is only palm trees growing on the beach. Saving the forest is the common goal for all forteen land owners on Tonsai beach, according to Maad.

Next stop on the trip was the small island Lao Liang a few hours south of Krabi. Very small, very peaceful, very nice. Super relaxing. You live in tents right on the beach, and has a handful of decent routes within 30 seconds beach-walk.

I think all the guests at Lao Liang are struck by the heavy artillery present on the island. Hard bolied men with camoflage uniforms?? Well, they turned out to be park rangers working to control fisching quotas, and fight back bird nests thiefs. These guys take the job seriously, and seemed to be truly interested and engaged in doing their part in saving the globe.

Stay tuned for the article in Outside in the fall.