Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Postcards from Paradise - Green Climbers home

Can you see the Katana Lace up hiding in the picture? I promise it is there!

Spot the Shoe... Photo - Caroline Ciavaldini

I am lying on my back, half stuck inside a hole on this giant block of Swiss Cheese, trying to figure where to go next. I squeeze upwards, or is it sideways, limbs twisted and inching slowly... then finally, there it is; the next quickdraw! You would be forgiven I was caving, but no, this is just another strange and funky route in the mega roof of Pha Tam Kam, the newest discovery in Eastern Laos.

Green Climbers Garden is the creation of Uli and Tanja Weidner, a German couple who visited this area during a round the world trip, and never left! Hidden away in the Pho Hin Boun NPA, just 12km from Thakhek, this little paradise holds several bungalows, a dorm, central restaurant/bar, as well as really great climbing.

Uli and Tanja are wonderful hosts, and the whole camp has a very relaxed atmosphere, exactly what you expect from Laos. The best time to visit is November to March, when temperatures actually get quite low. In December and January, it’s not uncommon to need long trousers and a jacket – essentially perfect conditions for climbing.

I never expected to see something like this!

The area in general is Tufa-central, it is quite similar in appearance to some of the cliffs in Southern Thailand, only with some friction, and without the crowds. The main event however is the gigantic roof on the right. 20m of horizontal, gloriously featured Emmental. Huge jugs and slopers, nothing sharp, nothing loose, nothing chipped or glued – this might be the best roof I have climbed in!

James on the finish of Monkey Trail. Photo - Caroline Ciavaldini

The current hardest route is the spectacular Monkey Trail, 7c+ but much harder lines are just waiting to be bolted. Having said that, it is not the hard lines that make this place really special, but the easy ones. It is quite rare for routes in the 6’s to venture into steep terrain, but here you can find 6b’s that tackle almost the entire span, via wonderfully interesting and involved movements – 3D climbing at its best.

The perfect end to a great 1st day! Photo - Caroline Ciavaldini

Green Climbers Home surpassed all my expectations. If the rest of the locations we visit over the next few weeks are half as good as this place, we will be very happy indeed. Tomorrow we will rent a couple of bikes and drive to Kong Lor Cave, where you can float 7km along an underground river, as well as explore some nearby cliffs developed by a French team a few years ago.

Sôhk Dee Deuh

James and Caroline

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