Thailand Climbing Access Issues
by Anne, Paul Friberg
Having just returned from climbing in Pra Nang Thailand (and loveing it), I learned while there that next year many of the climbing areas may be closed by the authorities. The rock climbing club there is asking people to write letters to the Tourism Authority at the following address:
Tourist Authourity of Thailand
372 Bamrung Muang Rd
Ban Bat Sub-district
Pomprap Satru Phai District
If you've ever climbed in this fantastic area or would like to next season, please write a letter stating how important this resource is to you. If anyone would like recent Beta on routes or where to stay, feel free to email me.
I hope the trip report didn't sound more negative than intended. We did have a really nice time and were really glad we went. We would have loved to stay longer if the area were more extensive. Along with our friends John and Sidney, we did donate 50 stainless steel bolts to the general cause.
On the access front apparently the Dussit has managed to persuade the Thai government to make "rock defacement" (ie bolts) illegal in National Parks. This includes all the cliffs in the Rai Lei area, but it's only enforced on the one cliff at Phra Nang Beach. This may have been the case already when you were there. The local climbers want all visiting climbers to write a letter to the Tourist Authority of Thailand. Personally, I'm not sure how much economic impact visiting climbers really have, as the place seemed mobbed with non-climbers, but TAT doesn't need to know that.
Otherwise, there is a big rumor floating around that the Dussit has offers on the table for every other bungalow property there and that they hope to take over the whole region and turn it into an international conference center. (Including turning the jungle behind the Andaman Beach into a golf course!) This is supposed to explain the poor service in the restaurants--the management allegedly isn't interested in repeat business since they're planning on selling soon. Crowds have supposedly doubled each of the past two years, but (according to the rumor) no additional kitchen or table staff has been hired. So the workers have 2 - 4 times the work, they can see how much money is coming in, they've received no raise, and as a result they're understandably surly as hell. When we got there, the staff at Cocos was on strike. They reopened after a few days, with fewer tables and more kitchen staff. Still in the vein of this rumor, the bungalows are all trying to hold out for a lot more money now that they can charge more and more for their rooms--so maybe the Dussit won't be able to afford their scheme. We also heard this entire rumor vehemently denied, so who knows.
On the new development front, two of the best cliffs we visited have probably been developed since your visit. "The Keep" (near Castle Wall) has about ten routes, the good ones evenly distributed from 6b to 7a. This area is good as it's up out of the jungle, has shade after 10:00 am, and catches a slight breeze. (Too bad there aren't good harder routes here!) The other area, "Melting Wall" lies at the far end of Andaman beach and has shade after noon. Here there are outstanding harder routes; within a few monthes there will be many more. Unfortunately it is a fairly sheltered location; this is where we managed to drench our knots with dripping sweat.
Oh well, now it's back to winter. I guess we Californians can't complain too much but it's still a stark contrast with Thailand.
Access Issues For Other Climbing Area