Monday, March 21, 2011

Thailand-Railay-Ao Nang Tower (Day 48)

I’ll just say it right away.  WE EPICED so heres the story.

Anja really wanted to Ao Nang Tower.  Ao Nang Tower is definitely a landmark, if you take a longtail from Ao Nang to Ton Sai or West Railay then you have seen this remarkable tower.  It is a big tower sticking straight out of the ocean.

The only way to reach it is by boat either rent a kayak for the day (500 baht) or arrange with a longtail boatman to drop you and pick you up or for the boatman to wait all day out there for you (rumor says 600 baht).  Anja really wanted to kayak out there; she’d never climbed out of a kayak but had taken longtails for climbing.  I wanted to take the longtail but caved as she was so excited about an adventure.  We got up a little late for the outing but she twisted my arm and we hiked over to Ton Sai and rented a kayak and were off on an Anja adventure.


The kayak to Ao Nang Tower was surprisingly quick about 15 minutes.  Since it was low tide getting off the boat was a little tricky but there was a fixed line Anja used to standup and assist her climbing up.  Once she was up there I clipped the packs on which were each wearing a life jacket encase we dropped one. 


No problem then it was time for me.  It was going to be tricky for me to get there climb up and clip the boat in so Anja set a belay and hung a figure 8 down at water level and I shoved my harness on in the boat.  Opps there goes a wave straight into the chalk bag.  I paddled up, clipped myself in, clipped the boat to the fixed lines, pulled up on the fixed line, Anja took hard on the belay and we were off.  The chalk bag was a casualty but not bad we were on the wall and on our way, hope the 6c pitch at the top goes ok.  We traverse over to the first belay over the ocean and could clearly see our kayak floating and looking secure.


I decided I’d give the first pitch a shot.  At 6b it could be a tough pitch for me but I’d also led 6b on Big Wave which was real cruiser.  Got the first thread and it got rough real quick right belay the second bolt, I backed off a move…TAKE


…well that was quick and I turned the led over to Anja and she fired it off with no problem loving the pitch.


I followed it was long and tiring for me.


On with the second pitch.  It was a short 15 m of 6b+ with a little roof move and then a thin face move but mostly jugs.


Anja pulled the roof move and cruised.  I seconded this pitch without much problem.  On to the 6c pitch it was going to be a long one again and we knew there would be no way to communicate with all the longtails going by below us. We could see the second bolt out on this diving board feature…it might be exciting.


Anja fired up and clipped the bolt on the diving board.  It had a beautiful jug right below the clip.  Amazing move through the jug now 150 ft nearly straight above the ocean below. 


After that it turned vertical and a little thin.


With all the longtails going by we couldn’t hear anything (think an 80’s inline 4 engine with no muffler) but finally I heard “TAKE”; “LOWERING”.  I thought to myself I hope she was able to finish the pitch.  I had no idea.  Anja got back to the belay and said “IT WAS AWESOME!  except for the rope drag but it was easy so I just kept climbing above the bolts to clip”.  Well I was glad that worked out.  I followed; it was way hard!  Glad Anja got it done.  I cleaned the anchor and was back at the second belay. 

Time to head down.  We rapped to the second anchor and pulled the rope no problem and it came down no problem but didn’t equalize the ends properly and one end was suck.  WHERE?  Well I got it set as best we could and went on rappel.  I got down and could see the rope had caught on the outside of a stalactite and then wrapped under the stalactite and was stuck.  I clipped a bolt and pulled all the slack left to try to flip the rope around the stalactite.  Pull rope, drop rope, shake rope, repeat.  No luck but I thought I got about another 5-10 ft free enough to make the anchor so I went for it.  I made the anchor but not enough to get off rappel as the knot was jammed against the belay device.  It was weird too because the rappel device was being pulled on from above at the anchor, the knot and behind me on the stalactite but I got up to the first thread, got off belay and down climbed 3 ft to the anchor.  Once at the anchor I pulled down enough rope to flip the rope around the stalactite and called off rappel.  When Anja came down she had to clip into a bolt and readjust the ends but they came free no problem now.  Pulled the rope; no problem.  We’d avoided epicing on rappel but it cost us about 30 minutes.

The traverse back to able the boat was easy.  Now time to get back in the boat.  My guess was I was going to take a swim to get back in but since it was now high tide I was able to get back in without much problem but WOW the SEA WAS ROUGH! and I was having trouble controlling the kayak in the water but we went for it.  Anja lowered me the bags and climbed down in.  WOW we made it…SPLASH…Anja and one pack were in the water.  She got back in and we figured out we could only stay up right if our feet were in the water.  OK paddle.  We made it about a quarter way back…SPLASH…everything was in the water.  Glad the packs had life vests on and that I made Anja leave her passport in the room. 

I’d had enough and had only agreed to this adventure knowing the longtails go by every 10 minutes.  HELP I called to a passing longtail but it went by.  SPLASH…SPLASH…ok we not getting us and the packs on the kayak so Anja started swimming with the packs and I was trying to just paddle the boat which was almost more than I could manage in the rough waves.  It was dark now.  “HELP” since it was dark and Anja was in the water it was clear we needed assistance and he pulled around to pick us up.  It was rough even getting into the longtail as it rocked in the surf.  To get the pack with the rope in we had to clip it on so we could both pull it in.  We were both in and the kayak was being towed behind.  The epic was nearly over we thought. 

The boatman took us back to Ton Sai and we returned the kayak.  We were exhausted but still needed to get back to East Railay.  Hey the headlamps still worked!  That was a plus as it would make getting home easier.  A drink at the Freedom Bar was tempting but we got a couple beverages at the mini-mart and headed up the jungle path.  As we headed up the path out of Ton Sai it sprinkled a little and by the time we were at the top of the saddle of the path we were in full down pour and thunder and lighting.  We were already soaked; oh well.  We charged down the path with the headlamps on only able to see the path right in front of us through the down pour of rain that is until CRACK everything would light up in the lighting.  We charged on for about 20 minutes in down pour and were happy back at our room.  We caught a rope on rappel, swam in the ocean, called for help, and been drenched in a down pour.  The Epic was finished. 


Happy back at the room.


We watched the lighting form our room and then moved on to so what was ruined and started washing everything in the bathtub.  The casualty list for day was a bag of advil, bandaids, chalk, and two guidebook.  Not too horrible.


PJL said...

dude - be careful in the water man - it can be dangerous

roark said...

Hey K and A! Man, you guys are having too much fun on your world tour.

Tip #1, start early on multi-pitch day! :) Most epic happens at night...

Sierrasclimber said...

Tip 2 when you can take a giant boat for only twice the price. Do it.