PHUKET: Hollow Mountain Extreme Adventure Park in Krabi has a perfect score on Trip Advisor, with 54 five-star ratings out of 54 ratings.
That’s no feat to scoff at – particularly not these days when everyone wants free wireless internet and zero mosquitoes wherever they go – and it’s especially impressive considering that they’ve only been open for one year.
Run by two middle-aged English expats, Hollow Mountain’s ropes and swings courses have been in the works for the past five years. Simon Ramsden and Roger Boulton have been leading teams of rope, climbing, mountaineering and safety experts along the half-hour trek through the jungle to the base of the limestone monolith for the past four years.
It’s a labor of love, and it’s had its share of setbacks.
Hiking along the trail, covered in sweat and mosquito bites, Simon occasionally points out areas where they’ve had difficulty getting their zip lines set up.
“We had a top-rated ropes guy anchor that cable, and he left it half-tightened one day after work,” Simon told me during our trek. “So the next day, when we’re tightening the other cables, that one breaks free and slams into the tree trunk over there [across the jungle], where I had just been standing.”
Hauling hundreds of pounds of inch-thick gauged wire up a mountain has been the easiest part of setting up the adventure park.
“We spent all day hauling a generator up here, turned up the next day and it was gone. Somebody had stolen it,” Simon tells me as we climb into the cavernous mountain, where the new generator is chained to the cliffside.
Hollow Mountain is aptly named. The entire limestone prominence has been carved out by the elements, leaving an inter-weaving and self-buttressed complex of arches. It’s perfect for Ramsden’s and Boulton’s high-flying acrobatic shenanigans.
There’s the ‘Decapitation’ zip line, the ‘Terminator’ zip line and the coup de grace, the ‘Emperor swing.’
Despite the intimidating names, jaw-dropping surroundings, huge distances and forces of physics at work, I felt incredibly safe from the moment we set out from the rubber plantation at the base of the mountain.
These two know what they’re doing. They know the risks, and they’ve taken every precaution to ensure your mind is safely blown. That makes the experience that much more enjoyable, or unnerving.
Standing on the ledge, hanging off of the topmost arch of the mountain, I was both screaming internally and yet confident.
The Emperor Swing is over 100 meters long (and you can add slack to the twin ropes supporting you), and is only reached by scaling the mountain’s arches with safety gear and taking the 60-plus meter Decapitation zip line through an archway.
None of that prepared me for the initial freefall of stepping off the ledge, or the rush of ‘Oh thank [insert choice of divine being here]’ feeling of the rope gently catching and swinging you out over Krabi’s jungled canopy.
Simply put, the experience is the best I’ve had in Thailand. It’s safe, yet exhilarating. And while 3,000 baht is a high price for any experience, it’s a pittance for the years of hard work and knowledgeable toil of the Hollow Mountain crew, let alone the adrenaline rush I felt for weeks afterward.
— Wes Martin
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