Forget the Birds the Monkeys have the Best View
Monkey World has some nice multi pitch climbing and some decent single pitches if you are willing to make the approach. Two of the more popular routes, Big Wave (4 pitches) and Beauty and the Beast (3 pitches) are easy to access from the main road near the bouldering cave. The other routes are a little more difficult to get to with some climbing over boulders and up fixed ropes to access the belay stations. It seems like most people (including us) get a little lost on the jungle trails on their first trip to monkey world. Old rope ladders steer you wrong and the relative steepness of the actual approach makes it easy to miss.
The first route you see after making the scramble to the belay ledge on the right side of Monkey World is “Curious George” (6a, 6b) which is right next to “Chunky Monkey” (6b,6a+). The first pitch of “Curious George” is a pretty easy jug fest on sharp rock. It is basically a vertical ladder. The second 6b pitch is about 30 meters to a cave at the top.
“Chunky Monkey” is definitely the better climb. The first pitch is rated 6b due to a few fun and overhung moves near the beginning. After the overhang it is a sharp scramble to the anchor ledge. The second pitch of Chunky Monkey is rated at 6a+ and is possibly the most interesting and fun 6a+ we have climbed at Ton Sai. The climb has so many fun tufa moves, great holds, traverses and stays interesting the entire 30 meters.
The belay station at the top of both first pitches is a small, but comfortable ledge with two anchors placed right next to each other. You can easily link both 6b routes or 6a routes for a little variation.
“Big Wave” is a super nice 4 pitch route (6a+, 6b, 6b, 6b). It shares the same first pitch as “Beauty and the Beast.” The first pitch has a fun start up a stalactite then has sharp rock up to the anchor. The second and third pitches offer fun three dimensional tufa climbing with a lot of interesting moves and pretty decent rock quality. The last pitch is the highlight. It was really tricky to start the fourth pitch; there is a lot of chalk on some tufas straight above you which appear to be just a distraction. I had to navigate well left to get to better holds which lead to the main face with the bolt line. From there it is pretty smooth climbing with lots of stemming and easy face climbing to the mid pitch anchors. The last part up to the final anchors is a really nice smooth face with pockets to a tufa then a bit of a mantle to reach the anchor. It was fun, though committing, on lead.
Beauty and the Beast
“Beauty and the Beast” (6a+, 6a+, 6b) can be made more interesting if you link the first two pitches. It requires at least 18 quick draws, and you still have to rappel 3 times. The last pitch is the beauty of this route with truly phenomenal climbing. From the belay station you find really technical finger pockets on a smooth overhang. Eventually you get to some nice vertical tufas to climb. It has a cool tufa chimney which leads to more technical climbing to the anchors.
There are two anchors at the top of the first pitch. And a little cave if you want to stash a backpack or water. These routes are both really popular which can lead to bottlenecks and multiple people hanging at belay stations. We heard rumor that one group at the third pitch anchors of “Beauty and the Beast” told another climber to hang on the bolt below the anchor because it was unsafe to have more people at the anchor. After making the guy hang on his last bolt for 20 minutes while they top roped the last pitch and lowered off they found him at the bar and lectured him on multi-pitch safety. While we would all like to have every multi pitch route to ourselves, Ton Sai is a busy place. Respecting your fellow climbers is the best thing you can do to keep everyone safe. While it’s definitely a soft spot for some to have multiple people at an anchor, leaving a climber on a single point of protection is certainly not ideal. Either way please respect other climbers on multi pitch climbing. Safety should be paramount, we’re all in this together.
I made a second trip to Monkey World with our friend Jason. We originally wanted to climb “Beauty and the Beast,” but we arrived a little late in the day and there were already 8 people either on the wall climbing or waiting to get on the wall. We opted instead to head to the right side of Monkey World and link Chunky Monkey and Curious George. This proved to be a wise decision. We revisited “Beauty and the Beast” 3 hours later and one of the groups was just getting to the top and a couple of groups were still hanging out at the first anchor waiting to climb the second pitch.
Some of the other routes on Monkey World have not been rebolted and the ones that had didn’t impress us. The belay stations are sketchy ledges and making the traverse to the other routes is difficult if other groups are there. If you’re looking for a little adventure and long exposed climbing then visiting Monkey World should definitely make your itinerary.