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Southeast Asia’a climbing capital

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PHUKET: Contrary to popular belief, Phuket is not the place to be for rock climbing.

The island’s jungled interior peaks rise in an almost Appalachian profile, with relatively tame gradients to their summits. For all the international hulaballoo it receives, Phuket is almost a complete contrast to neighboring Krabi Province, whose limestone columns rise vertically out of impenetrable jungle and Phang Nga Bay to speckle the horizon.

Krabi’s reputation as a world-class sport climbing and deep-water free soloing area – where climbers clamber up the cliff-face unaided and fall back into the ocean’s depths – has enjoyed proliferation through social media sites, climbing forums, magazines and by word-of-mouth, as belayers trade stories of southern Thailand’s climbing heartland from Yosemite’s granite valley to Tasmania’s basalt columns.

Phuket’s proximity to Krabi allows young – primarily western – climbing enthusiasts to work and live here, while escaping across Phang Nga Bay every weekend. But the pipe dream for Thailand’s expat climbing community is to escape Phuket’s real-world gravity altogether and become a full-time dirtbag at the base of one of Krabi’s silvery peaks.

For them, Railay Bay and Tonsai wall are the Rome of Southeast Asia’s climbing world, with every dirtbag adventurer and teacher-turned-climber sweating their sins across the limestone walls and proselytizing the nirvanas to be achieved at their summits to friends back home.

— Desmond Farang

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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