There is a new crag being developed in Ao Nang. We got wind of it hanging out with a few friends one night. It wasn’t long before someone had a hand written topo and we were off to check out some fresh rock. The main crag is in the shade until 2pm, but there are a few routes in an adjacent cave that have afternoon shade. There is already a decent amount of moderate routes here and since everything is relatively unclimbed the friction is outstanding. The routes have been cleaned fairly well, but there is still some loose rock. Bring a helmet if you have one.
Routes have been going up for a few months and will continue into the near future. They are being relatively conservative with the bolting at this point with a few routes sharing the same starting bolts. Eventually each route will have its own line of bolts. Current routes range from 6a to 7c with talk of class 8 potential as well. Right now it is mostly single pitch with routes connecting two or three pitches in the works. There are already a bunch of bungalows for climbers in varying degrees of construction waiting for the word to spread.
Between the group of 13 climbers that piled into the long tail and bus that morning we managed to get ropes on 4 routes. From Ao Nang we got on a bus to Krabi Town and got a ride to Chong Phli (pronounced “plee”) for 30 baht. I’m sure in the next couple months you will be able to mention the crag by name and get dropped off a short walk to the climbing. We walked about one kilometer to the turn off. Once we left the road about it was another 10 minutes approach through a palm and mangostein orchard. It was quite a bit cooler there in the morning than on Ton Sai. We saw Fred getting ready to try a red point attempt of a 7c, but he untied to give us a rundown of the climbing he had been working on. Adjacent to the 7c is “Pillbox” (6c). Then moving around a boulder you get to the mezzanine level and an appropriately named 6b called “Exfoliation,” which has a short second pitch rated at 6c. To the right you will find a 6b+ called “Chutzpah.” Next are two beautiful and balancey 7as that share the same starting two or three bolts.
The rock quality is superb and has excellent friction. Spirit Mountain would make a great destination crag to supplement your trip into town to pick up supplies and will eventually be worth staying at a few days before or after your trip to Ton Sai. There is at least one restaurant and a fruit shake stand, but once the crag is done more development will likely follow. It was a little difficult finding a bus to take us back to Ao Nang, but eventually an air con resort bus pulled up and crammed the 10 of us that were remaining into the back and dropped us off right in front of the ice cream parlor.
Briana and I only got on three climbs that day but the remaining route with the draws up and climbers on it was the 7a. Briana wanted to give it a go but the sun started to invade our belay area and we knew it was time to go.
How do I get there?
Real topos are in the making and the crag will likely be included in future guidebooks. Until then we have some pictures that should suffice if you decide to take the trek out there. From Ao Nang catch the bus to Krabi Town and say “Chong Phli.” From the intersection where you likely get dropped you will be able to see the huge crag. In case you miss it you will see a sign at the intersection directing you to Krabi walk away from Krabi and you will see the “mountain” on the right. Walk down the main road and turn right on Chong Phli Soi 6 (hok). From there you pass a 10 Bhat fruit shake stand (great for an after climbing pick-me-up) and turn right at the bright blue roof on the obvious dirt road. After another 5 min approach you arrive. For the return you can head to the crossroads and look confused until someone rolls by or try asking at the stores around.
Alternatively you can arrange a tuk-tuk to drop you off and pick you up when the sun hits (between 1:30 and 2pm). Tell the tuk-tuk driver “Chong Phli Soi hok.”
Special thanks to Fred for showing us around his new crag and letting our group invade his little secret.
View Spirit Mountain Ao Nang in a larger map