Peter Lyons

Oct 29, 2014

First Railay Climb

Our first morning in Railay we are still waking around 5am, so I got some work in while Shannon explored the area. After sunrise we had the hotel breakfast buffet. In the afternoon we rented a climbing rope and set out to try the beginner-friendly crag at the south end of the Railay East beach.

The rock here is limestone and very different from the granite we are mostly used to. It is a much rougher texture but also a bit slick and dusty. Plus with the heat and humidity even chalking your hand is essentially pointless because as soon as you rub your hands together all the chalk has been absorbed into the moisture on your hand and is gone.

Shannon found what we thought to be the easiest route around, which was quite short - just a few threads to the anchor. This was a new bit of protection for us. The limestone here with great frequency erodes holes clear through the rock leaving a pillar along the face so you can protect a climb just by permanently tying a small length of rope around the pillar. That's it. They call these "threads".

Neither of us has been doing outdoor lead climbing recently and our "lead head" is definitely gone, so we both struggled a bit. Shannon lead most of the first route by the move to the anchor was too much so she came down and I had a go at it. My first attempt at the anchor resulted in a decent-sized lead full, but I got it on the second attempt. At least the fall was safe and getting that first one out of the way right away was a good thing.

We moved down to the main "1, 2, 3" beginner wall where several guided groups were. The first route was isolated so no peer pressure or embarrassment at how rusty we were, but here no such luck. The second route we did was also quite short, and seemed a bit difficult, but once Shannon found the huge, delicious jugs, it was like "oh, yeah. We see why this is rated incredibly easy". So we did that one and one more, which turned out to be the easiest one. This helped to get our confidence up. By the end of the day we had each led a few and I had cleaned anchor a few times, which I was very out of practice, so I felt better.

Just before sunset we headed in to cool off in the pool. We again missed the sunset by a few minutes. We got some fancy fruity cocktails and drank them on the beach. We headed to a restaurant our friend Josh had recommended for some delicious and even cheaper Thai food.

During the end of the meal a strong downpour began, and shortly thereafter the main power went out. Within 10 seconds, no less than 6 flashlights/headlamps we on in the dining area. I guess folks know to expect this. 30 seconds later the restaurant had the backup generator power on and a small subset of lights back.

I had to get on a call soon, so we ran back to the hotel by headlamp in a stiff downpour. Soaked, I quickly stripped down, wrapped myself in a towel, and realized with no power there would be no Internet thus no call. However, my smartphone does work, and my "Happy Tourist" SIM card has 3G signal here and both voice and data signal, so I quickly was able to get on a google hangout and participate in my team's standup call. I don't think anyone was wise to the fact that I was soaking wet, wrapped in a towel, dripping profusely while standing in the bathroom in the dark on the other side of Earth.

Today we've been taking it easy and spent a lot of the morning in the pool. I was able to work 3 solid hours before sunrise this morning, which was good.