Hot Rock Krabi Thailand


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An Interview with Jane

Looking out across the Railay peninsula, I could see both Railay East and Railay West, the views across the bay were naturally stunning as it was a rather typical day in Krabi province; hot and sunny with clear skies and the odd white puffy cloud dotting the sky. With Ton Sai Beach in the distance it was a remarkable view. But this wasn’t the kind of view you get from just strolling onto the beach, it had taken some effort. In all honesty it had been worth it. I mean the pains one has to go through sometimes in order to reach an outlook that will provide such a vista. Today, after a short hike through jungle to reach the foot of what is known to the local climbing community as ‘Thaiwand Wall’ I had climbed the thirty or so meters to the first anchor on a route named ‘To live and Let Thai’.


If you don’t already know, the bolted routes on the Railay peninsula are considered by many to be among the best in the World. The convenience of Railay also means that it’s possible to get a room within a short walk from many of the walls and stumble out onto the beach and within minutes, can be climbing. Add to that the rather pleasant views and great beaches make Railay a simply superb place to base yourself for a few days whether you’re a climber or not. Since the 1980’s climbers from all over the World have been shoring up on Railay to tackle the limestone crags and the interest has resulted in a close-knit community of dedicated climbers and hundreds of bolted sports routes ranging from easy 5a’s to classic multi-pitch 6a’s to dizzying 8c’s for the fearless, brave or just plain crazy.


So, there I was, armed with my trusty camera, having reached the anchor and dangling some thirty meters from the ground suspended from my waist by a harness and a piece of rope. Was I scared? Nope, not a bit of it! Was I enjoying the view? Oh yes, and I was enjoying the feeling of having scaled a thirty meter vertical too. It’s easy to see why sports such as climbing become addictive. It’s not just the ‘buzz’ you get from the height or the view, but it’s the sense of achievement also. It can be tough, very tough. Especially in the heat of the Thai sunshine, sweat literally pouring, hands wet but for the super-absorbent chalk used to maintain friction on the limestone.


About 15 meters up I got a typical climbers ailment; what I like to call ‘disco leg’, uncontrollable shaking of the leg due to fatigue and caused by the build-up of lactic acid in muscle tissue. This condition often signifies imminent retreat and the return to terra-firma, either voluntary or gravity-assisted, but my guide Jane told me it can be cured by shaking or by pushing the heel downwards whilst keeping the toes on the rock. It worked, but only for a moment; seconds later it was off again, like an over enthusiastic Elvis impersonator I clenched at the rock and tried to steady myself. I wasn’t about to give up, a final push and I found a ledge and was able to rest for a while, gasping for breath, shaking with adrenalin, hugging the rock-face, my chest pressed against the limestone while I held on with the fingers of my left hand pushed into a tiny crack just big enough to provide some grip. Looking above to see where my next hold would be, I reached up with my right hand, feeling above my head for any pieces of jagged rock that might be out of sight. Climbing is not just about strength, technique is extremely important too. You need to use your head as much as your muscles, constantly looking for cracks, holds and ledges. The other thing, Jane told me and it’s the thing that people usually forget; use your legs!


Jane is part of the Hot Rock Climbing team, a climbing outfit based in Railay and one of the most established. We were lucky to have Jane as our guide as she happens to be Thailand’s top ranked female climber and part of the Thai National Team. After getting fitted for our gear we padded out onto Railay West and headed for the southern end of the beach for the hike up to Thaiwand Wall where I had a chance to ask Jane a few questions to find out more about her climbing career:

Krabi Magazine: How did you become involved in the climbing scene?

Jane: I first came to Railay for a holiday; I remember watching the climbers here and thought - that looks really cool, I want to try it - so I gave it a go. I really enjoyed it and it came kind of naturally to me so I continued to climb and it went from there.
KM: So, you hadn’t always planned on being a climber?
Jane: Ha-ha, no. I studied accounting at Songkhla University although I’ve never used it! I worked in Bangkok too before I settled here but I missed the ocean too much so I came back to the south and started working in Railay.

KM: Why did you choose Railay?
Jane: Well, it’s one of the best climbing destinations in the World. I’m originally from Nakhon Si Thamarrat (a province in southern Thailand) which isn’t far from here and when I came I discovered that most of the instructors are from there too, so they helped me to get settled.
KM: You’re on the Thai National Team; how have you done in competitions?
Jane: I’ve won at national level, and earned an overall 10th place at the Asian Games in the sport climbing discipline. I’ve competed abroad too; one of the best things is being able to travel.

KM: What’s your favourite destination?
Jane: Apart from Railay, I like the French Alps very much: good climbing and very beautiful. I climbed in Yosemite National Park too; it’s different to Railay in that it’s granite which is very tough climbing. Here it’s limestone.

KM: Have you got a favourite route here in Railay?
Jane: Yes, I like a route called Tidal Wave. It’s on Tonsai Wall and Roof, in Tonsai bay. The routes are generally more technical over there.
KM: So, it’s tough?
Jane: Ha-ha, yes. It’s a 7b+. I trained for weeks to climb it!
KM: What do you do to train – are there any special training techniques?
Jane: We just climb; climbing and more climbing. Sometimes we use marathon climbing (marathon climbing is climbing many routes one after the other - up to 12 - in one day) to condition our bodies for a tough climb.
KM: There’s a competition coming up, will you be competing? – info required!!!!
Jane: No, not in this one, I haven’t had chance to train enough but I’m helping to organise it and I’m assisting in training too.

KM: Can anyone climb in Railay?
Jane: Sure, there are routes at all difficulty levels. Everyone comes here to climb, from pros, beginners and families and even young children.

A climber like Jane is at once encouraging, strong, agile, confident and very professional; it was very reassuring to have Jane as a climbing partner, but it does tend to instil a false sense of confidence as she makes it look very easy. It’s hard to describe the ease with which she ascends, but as soon as you take the first tentative steps and make your first grabs on the cliff, you realise what makes the difference between a novice and a pro; she certainly made small work of ‘Live and Let Thai’.


Instructor JaneInstructor Jane