Neither Nicole or I had been rock climbing before, despite our proximity to Smith Rock State Park near our homes in Oregon. We had a “when in Thailand” moment and decided to go for it because, after all, what better place to start than Krabi, a beach in southern Thailand world reknown for it’s beauty and climbing?
We opted for a full-day experience. Our guides from King Climbers took us, along with several other people, to a great beginner’s rock and gave us a brief introduction of the top-rope climb we were about to do. I think the instruction lasted for five minutes before Nicole (she volunteered to go first) was strapped in and making her first steps toward the sky.
Nicole is like a little monkey. She made it look so easy as all 90 pounds of her practically ran up the rock wall, touched the highest point her rope would allow, and then sailed back down, pushing herself away from the sharp edges with her feet.
I went next and learned it’s not as easy as Nicole made it seem. Rock climbing is hard work! I made it to the top, immediately discovered why people love the sport so, and then fully enjoyed every second of rappelling back down. We each climbed one more route and then gave our tired bodies a much-needed break.
After lunch, we moved to a new spot on the water, where the highest climbs provided amazing views overlooking the karst formations jutting out of the turquoise sea – the images Krabi is so famous for.
It is a surreal feeling to be cheered on from the onlookers below as you struggle to find the next spot to put your foot, or sometimes just a toe, and then your finger, often supported only by one toe and one hand (the pros can hang from just one finger!) as you continue to find the strength to make it to the top and then turn around to see the bird’s-eye view from such a strange vantage point.
Rock climbers, those in Thailand and the ones I know in Oregon, are some of the most laid back, encouraging and accepting groups of people I’ve met. I used to think it was silly to climb so scarily high just for a quick glimpse of a spectacular view, but I learned it’s more than that. It’s a personal challenge, with a whole support group watching below.