RAILAY, Thailand // At my former office in New York City, the background of my computer for the past 3 years has been a photo from the top of the Thaiwand wall in Railay. The photo is from a climb called "Lord of the Thais". It is known as one of the most popular sport routes in Thailand, as well as the world. It has been one of my goals for years, as well as one of my New Years Resolutions, to do the first pitch of this route.
The difficulty grade of the first pitch is right within the realm of my ability. Additionally, every piece of gear I brought on this trip is needed for this route. It is about 30 meters high and takes 12 quickdraws.
After a rough start on the first day, we spent a few days climbing routes that we were pretty certain we could both do. These almost acted as training days for us, as well as having fun and the satisfaction of completing a route. We were in the shade of a forest at a wall called Wee's Present Wall, with lots of other climbers from around the world. The camaraderie was fun, and the audience gave us extra motivation to climb harder and do slightly more difficult routes.
At about 4 o'clock we decided to head to the Thaiwand wall since we were only about a 10 minute walk away. The sun was going down and setting in about 2 hours. I looked at Jenny and told her that I was ready to try the first pitch of Lord of the Thais.
I got on the wall, and after about the fifth bolt I was so focused and caught in the moment. Breathing and concentrating is so important in climbing. At one point I looked down and almost freaked myself out. Just because of this mental insecurity, it caused me to grip the rock so tight that I almost lost all strength and pumped myself out. I found rest positions many times, and in the end, made it to the anchor without taking a fall. Either the climb was easier than I thought it would be, or I was just much more "in the zone" today. After I tied myself safely through the anchor, I looked down and took in the incredible view of the beach, longtail boats, and setting sun.
The exposure is amazing, and the view was the same as the one I had viewed on my computer screen for so many years. There was so much hype inside my mind about this climb, and the crazy part is that it actually lived up to the expectations. The climb was so fun, and it felt great to accomplish one of my long term goals, even after the rough adversity of climbing the first day. After the rope was threaded through the anchor, Jenny got a chance to top rope the route and finished the climb as well. This route was another huge boost of confidence for us, and I'm hoping to try harder grade climbing in Tonsai in a few days.