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Bouldering in Railey and Tonsai Beach Thailand

Railey Beach is mostly known for it's sport climbing. Bouldering here has never been much more then something to do when it is raining, or a convenient way to train. I've got a feeling that this is going to change in the next few years. There is a huge potential for bouldering in Railay. Many of the roof routes of Tonsai have already been soloed, and are likely to become classic bouldering problems. Routes like tidal wave wind their way through the roof over soft sand, never getting more then 8m above the deck.....

Deep water soloing Railey Beach Thailand
From Matt Maddaloni's railey deep water soloing site

Then there is the potential for deep water soloing Already there are some established routes for this. In many ways this is the next great frontier. All you need is a pair of shoes and an absence of fear and you can go put up 10 new "routes" a day. I reckon that as word spreads, Railey will become the center of a deep water soloing meca... Information on deep water soloeing is here.


Railey Bouldering that I know about

Most of the bouldering tends to be traverses, and short hard problems. There are few boulders as such, the bouldering being on the bottom of the faces of huge sea cliffs. They tend to be low problems and safe, over nice soft sand. People have pushed the limits, but because there is no way to top out on any of these problems, there is no incentive to go high save a death wish. The only way off the rock is to jump or down climb...

Phra Nang Beach Bouldering

The traditional spot is on the obvious wall as you come onto Phra Nang Beach. This is a fantastic spot. Deep sand, fingery and technical low down, and fingery technical overhanging and ultra hard higher up. There are an almost inifinite number of problems and variations on this piece of rock. I love bouldering here and over the years have left gallons of sweat skin and fingernails on it. Whenever I come back it is always the first spot I come to test my strength against the days when I thougt I was strong. It never rains here as the towering rock above provides a permanent roof. It is the favorite spot of the Thai's who have got the thing so wired that they can now just flow accross it.

The basic right to left traverse is about a 6b+ with a 7a crux (I can't talk boulder so you'll have to put up with my approximation). If you go from right to left I reckon it's about a 6c+ with a 7b crux, but then that may be because you are already pumped from going the first way. I like to continue this one as far as you can go, right around the big bulge of choss, towards the little caves, finishing on along a sort of upward sloping crack/ break which ends in a little knob of a stalactite. (admire the chalk marks beyond). There is a high traverse of about 7a+ easier if you are shorter.... There is also a classic stalactite boulder problem, off the deck, onto the stalactite, up over to the wall and down- around 7a+ but a little more scary. Then there are lots of little problems to tweak yourself on from 6a to 9a. Some I've tried for years and given up as impossible, only to watch some unfeasibly strong kid style up it. Some I've thought beyond impossible and watched some of the worlds strongest making heroic attempts at.

Around the corner are some low shallow beach caves. These have some great hard problems in them. You can see the obvious chalk marks, and as it never rains in there, you can see the chalk marks of the best, spiraling above your head, taunting you with the unobtainable heights past masters have reached....

123 Area Bouldering

This is completely different from Phranang beach, and is a more or less continuous overhanging pump fest. There are some technical options, but this tends to be used more as an exercise in endurance masochism. More of a long low traverse then actual boulder problems, you can start from Chicken head if you like and just keep on going left as far as you can possibly go. The more interesting bits tend to be around Nights in White Satin. The only problem with this area is that it is the traditional beginners area, so that all the Climbing schools guide here, and it tends to be absolutely packed....

Tonsai Beach Bouldering

As you come onto Tonsai beach, walking the jungle path from Railey, there is a great little wall for traversing, with a few interesting problems on it. (6c traverse?). Next to it there is a tasty little boulder, with some really quite tricky and quality problems to the top.

Further around on tonsai, towards Freedom bar there are loads of low overhanging traverses over soft sand. There is also potential for turning some of the sports routes into sphincter clenching boulder classics. There is a ledge about 15m off the deck which you can top out on, and then walk down via a ladder. you'd need to be strong though, as these routes go at around 7c...

If you want to boulder boulders, then Koh Tao is a good place to go. There is a great site on it here..

One of my favorite Bouldering sites is Pils, another Railey lifer. He now spends most of his time in Hampi and has a great web site of pics and stories of madness.....