Friday, March 1, 2013

Deep water soloing

So...what could we have possibly left for day 2 in Railay, right?

Wrong. There were still things we wanted to do, and do we definitely did.

After returning our climbing gear the day before, we were talking to some of the guides about other things they did. One of the topics that consistently came up? Deep water soloing, generally defined by Wikipedia as:

"a form of solo rock climbing, practiced on sea cliffs at high tide (originally, but also on reservoirs, rivers,swimming pools -indoor- ...), that relies solely upon the presence of water at the base of a climb to protect against injury from fallings from the generally high difficulty routes."

I'd actually never heard of it before (at least not by this name), but I'd definitely seen it before. I just didn't know we had accidentally landed in a place that did it. And was thrilled.

There were gorgeous photos of it all around, of course, and it didn't take me long to be convinced that this was something I needed to do in my life. I was in decent shape, I had relatively enough climbing experience to get it done, and well, hell, how often was I going to be in a place doing something like this?

The answer was a clear and fast yes.

We were also reassured by the guides that you didn't need to have much climbing experience to do soloing. If you're not good, you just fall at a lower height. In fact this is one of the few times where being a better climber might actually work against you...especially if you're afraid of heights (which a surprising number of climbers are...).

Well then, there you have it. We had our (this time) full day of activity for day 2 on Railay. Booyeah.

And the beautiful thing about Thailand? You don't even need to wait for high tide. You just go out to a certain set of islands that are less than an hour's boat ride away from the Railay shore and boom, you're at some of the most awesome problems in the world. Not to mention super awesome climbers already know about them so they're already set up for your climbing pleasure.

Yep, that means things like rope ladders (which really are the devil, and admittedly were the hardest part for me), ropes with knots, and other little helpers were already in place. There was even some free chalk to be had because well, you're certainly not going to be carrying a chalk bag on you when you know you're going to be jumping into the water after.

That's another thing - what to wear when you're going to be climbing and then jumping into the sea afterwards.

Apparently the answer is climbing shoes that you either are fine with ruining (because they are made out of leather, most of the time), or borrowed shoes that are specially made for this kind of sport.

Either way you're still climbing in a bathing suit or maybe a little more if you want a little more protection. And that was that.

The highest climb on our day was approximately 20 meters (about 60 feet high). A select handful of the best climbers from our group got to these points. They said getting there and preparing to jump was the most terrifying part. I believe it - I got to the halfway height and I was done for the day. And I've cliff dived before.

Overall it was an incredible experience and yet another day of getting over extreme adrenaline-based fear. My lesson learned - you can definitely climb with wet hands. Oh, and reapply sunscreen. OFTEN.

That was our one mistake. Despite putting on SPF70 in the morning and my sister even reapplying with a lesser sunscreen later in the day, we both ended up getting slightly burned (the only time on our entire trip). Well, I guess it was bound to happen - so many outdoor activities, so much amazing sunshine.

Just another push forward in making me want to get back into climbing. A good push.

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