Climbing in Borneo

Climbing in Borneo
Second pitch of Make it Snappy, 7b+, Berhala Island

Sandakan Wall Climbing Centre

Sandakan Wall Climbing Centre
New, For You.... Sandakan Wall Climbing Centre - Sports Complex

Berhala Island, Bolted climbing in Sabah

Berhala Island, Bolted climbing in Sabah
Contact us for a route guide, free

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

As promised: Sarawak Climbing

Below is a description of climbing near Kuching, an exciting location with a great future, ripe for new routers and a small but growing local population of Rock-Jocks.

This will be available as a PDF soon for you to download.


The main climbing area is at the famous Fairy Cave. This area has 8 separate walls with over eighty climbs here. Recently, local climbers started bolting at Bantang, in the Serian area. There are about 8 routes here.

Climbing in Sarawak started in 1997 when Eunice and Malcolm Jitam brought a group of Australians to bolt climbs at Royal Mulu Resort. The group then went to Kuching and in the following year bolted Batman wall and started climbing here.

The Fairy Cave Climbing Areas
Visiting climbers have commented that the Batman wall is peculiar because of the overhangs that require a lot of upper body strength while not requiring precision footwork. The rock formations with its chimneys and pillars are quite unique too.

This wall is climbable in any conditions. There is a row of stalactites that keeps both rain and sun off the wall. The climb starts from the lip of the wall with a Batman start where one needs to jump to the first clip and begin climbing from there. For the Batman start, one needs a stick clip or improvise one by cutting a length of bamboo. Grades at Batman Wall go from 6A to 7C.  There are roof climbs under this wall with a minimum grade 7B.

Batman Start
You would also need to do a Batman start to climb ‘Fist of Fairy’ a 3 pitch climb, beginning from the top of the Fairy Cave stairs. It begins with a 6A+ and has a 6C finish. The reward for this climb is to top out and walk into the gigantic Fairy Cave where you can walk down.

Other walls
The other walls have ground up starts with small crimps requiring more finger work. The grades vary between 5 to 6C. There are also a few open projects. It is estimated that these climbs are in the 7B range.

Equipment list
Climbers need a 60 meter rope and 12 draws but there are some climbs that require up to 14 draws. In addition to this are shoes, belay device and cow’s tail. A tarp is needed to keep your rope clean. A towel would come in handy to wipe the sweat and grime off.

Before climbing
Climbers should make a visual survey before sending a route to see the number of quick draws needed, or if any long draws or extension are needed, and determine the means of getting down from the climb. Some climbers take mallions with them to get lowered off in case they are unable to finish the climb.

All climbs have glue in (Hilti RE 500) and (Fixe, Petzl or Climb X) hangers on expansion bolts. Most anchors have stainless steel chains. Some have a single or double quick link (clip into both quick links at the double anchor) and other anchors have stainless steel rings where climbers should know how to tie off to be lowered off these anchors.  For hanger anchors, one needs to tie off and rap down.

Food and drink
You will also need plenty of drinking water and some food. At this time of writing, only drinks are being sold at the Fairy Cave entrance. The closest food and drink is at Thistle Café about 2 km away but best to pack from home base.  Its best to have a change of clothes after climbing as the locals are offended by dirty bodies and bad odors.

Most people are too busy climbing that they seldom attempt to boulder at Fairy Cave. However, the few who try are rewarded by the many problems that litter this climbing area. Needless to say, the bouldering potential is yet to be discovered.

There is a marked walkway to and though Fairy Cave. A cement and wooden walkway covers part of the trail that goes through the cave and mountain exiting at the back of Gunung Kapor (Chalk Mountain). There are several passages that require specialist knowledge in spelunking and SRT (single rope technique). 

There is no WMS and climbers need to bring their own First Aid Kit and know how to use it.

As in any climbing area, be careful of loose rock.  There are insects such as cave centipede and huntsman’s spider and snakes like the cave racer that one should be mindful of.  There is a good government hospital at Bau and several private clinics in Bau Town. Emergency phone number is 999.

The Fairy Cave Climbing Area
 The (local native) Bidayuh people are ancestral custodians of the Fairy Cave area. It has been a long and steady process since 1998 where Malcolm & Eunice Jitam have built a good and steady working relationship with them. Please do not do anything to ruin this. Courtesy and politeness will go a long way to ensure that we can all enjoy climbing here.

The Fairy Cave area comes under the Krokong village committee made up of 17 smaller villages. They are a caring, progressive and developed society. Most of the Bidayuh here are Catholics and their parish of 7 villages has worked with local climbers in carrying out community service at the climbing areas. However, like any society there are the mindless people who may cause nuisance.

Rock On is an annual climbing festival held in conjunction with the Bidayuh people in Krokong.  Besides climbing, there are lots of food, drinks and live music. The next festival will take place 24-26 May 2013.

 How To Get Here
There is a bus service from Kuching to Fairy Cave. The route goes from Kuching bus terminal at Jalan Masjid (road) to Bau town where you needs to change for bus No.2 to Krokong. Tell the driver to stop at Fairy Cave. He will stop at the road junction leading to Fairy Cave. It is 1.5km walk to the climbing area. There are road signs leading to it.

By Road. There are two roads that lead to Bau. One past Kota Sentosa and another through Batu Kawah past  Tondong. There are car and scooter rental companies in Kuching. You can navigate by following road signs or via GPS. For large groups to 6 to 10 persons, it’s best to hire a chartered van. It will cost about MYR 100 per way or MYR 270 for a full days’ charter.

Road signs are deceiving! Fairy Cave is also known as Gua Pari-Pari (in Bahasa Malaysia), so look out for Bau and the two names on road signs.

Accommodation And Food
Homestays are available at Peros village 5km away from the climbing area. Most hosts speak English and can help with transportation to and from the crag areas. It cost MYR 65 per person and this includes breakfast and dinner. Bookings must be done at least a day earlier by calling 082 450378 or email: .

Food is available at Thistle, a local café about 2 km from the crag and also in Bau, where one can find simple local dishes. Better restaurants can be found in Bau town (6km away).

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Kuching Climbing

We are soon to publish a summary of the wonderful limestone climbing available down in Kuching, watch this space for route and crag beta as well as info on how to get there......

Monday, January 21, 2013

Friday 1st Feb is the date to put in your diary, dust off your spandex, test your grip because climbing is coming to Sandakan!
There will be competitions to inspire you, Demonstrations to amuse you, races to excite you and politicians to bore you.
Get yourselves down to the Sports Complex to meet our team and be one of the first to register, get a coveted early membership number that you can show off to your grandkids (SICC has over 5,000 members!).
There will be regular trips to Berhala Island, a pro shop and regular competitions, clubs and classes.
Be there or forever wonder why you missed it!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Civil disobedience

Sabah Indoor Climbing Centre has enjoyed a modicum of success since it was opened two years ago. There is now a small community of hard climbers, a large group of regulars and many, many who come down on occaisions.
I guess, considering the marketing we have done its not bad at all.

Now we have completed Sandakan Climbing Centre, newer, sexier and almost ready to go.

Except that it is a government project.

So, will it ever open???

We are waiting for the Sports Board to get their ducks lined up, just like we were with SICC three years ago. One promise after another falling by the wayside.

From a business perspective its a non-starter. No chance of making a real profit, its not scaleable and our landlords openly admit that if we do make money they will raise our rent to get it off us.

We remain as determined as ever to make climbing popular as a sport in Sabah, we are also determined to have athletes go and compete for Malaysia from Sabah so we are sticking at it.

We are now looking for staff to work at the Sandakan Climbing Centre, know anyone?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Climb Fest & the rest

We sent four climbers from Sabah to represent us at the inaugural Climb Fest. A wonderful festival of climbing as it turned out and just what Malaysia needs, a breath of fresh air, free of political tie-downs and unnecessary dirge.
Choosing who to sponsor was a lot of fun and as it turned out four great ambassadors of Sabah Indoor Climbing Centre went along and we were happy to sponsor them.
Its a shame that the State and federal climbing associations are so useless really, Malaysia could do so well at this sport and for a fractioon of the costs of other sports but you know how it is, the decision-makers have no idea about these sports at all, too busy lah!
Sandakan Climbing Centre is now under construction! oh yeah. In three months we hope to do a deal with Lembaga Sukan to operate the centre and team it up with the KK centre, its gonna be awesome! The great thing is the fact that we can have trips out to Berhala every single weekend! lovely, lovely Berhala. We will be improving and further developing the bolts as well as putting up new climbs as fast as we can.
We are looking for staff; international volunteers, local part-timers and full-timers too. Our team is big and friendly with many interesting things happening.
'Nuff plugging I think, back to climbing:
A couple of potential new crags in Sabah have been spotted and will be investigated quite soon, some of you told us about the big face on the left side of the Sandakan - KK road close to the Togop turn. We did go and look and found out it is an active quarry. Its looks really nice though and once they stop chucking dynamite around we are going to be right in there!
A trip up Kinabalu is planned for the end of the year, we plan to spend a couple of weeks up there in a group, anyone interested contact us and we will get some bookings made.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Dont look back, or down....

This weekend sees the welcome arrival of the Climbfest organised by Climb Malaysia (find them on Facebook etc..).
We held a small competition to see who was the best climber after eating barbeque, turns out it was Kenji with Donald snapping at his heels.
The idea was to select people to represent SICC which we did and we will go to the big city busting a gut to make sure that everyone knows that Sabah has some great climbers.
So what of other news?
Sandakan is about to get started, of course the contractor is late handing the place over but we are excited about a new climbing centre in Sabah. Especially in Sandakan with its proximity to Berhala island! I can see weekends are going to be busy developing new routes.
Any Foreign climbers with experience either building climbing walls or bolting new routes are welcome to join our team as volunteers, we can help with accommodation and food if you want to be part of the action. Drop us a line through
We are also looking to do some exploring at the tun Sakaran Marine Park where there are a couple of beautiful cliffs, so far no-one has been to take a look but the National Parks office asked us if we could take a look. Anyone interested should get in touch and we will give you the beta (its volcanic by the way).
A team of our staff is in Terenganu this week filming bees with a Canadian TV crew, I figure a bee suit has to be hot and getting swarmed by the stingy little fellas when you are hanging on a rope, unable to run like hell does not sound like a bundle of fun. I am sure there will be stories to tell when they get back.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Jeez, Amnesiac.....

Climbing trip this friday to Berhala, sandsone, oh gritty, gritty loveliness. You will be twitching with excitement if you go, I promise.

Sorry for the delay but tons to tell you;

Sabah Climbing Association is now established, Ed is the Chairman and Roy is the secretary. With luck we can now ask the government to give us funds to run a state-wide climbing competition with a view to running a nation-wide comp later in the year.

Designs for the new climbing pillar at SICC are on the way, input from you guys is always welcome though, looks like it will be about 12 - 15 metres high and have some 10 or more lines. I theory this could give us upwards of another 30 routes!

Sandakan is soon to have a new climbing centre, work starts at the beginning of April and is thought to only take about 4 months to complete. I would not expect it to open immediately though, the one in KK was a year before Lembaga Sukan decided to open it!

We are especially excited about Sandakan because of its proximity to Berhala Island. We may have to invest in a boat and start running weekly trips out there. Its time to get some more routes put up, the Sandakan cik-caks will be a busy bunch!

Roy managed to get a busload of models to come to SICC recently and into harnesses, it is of course a tough job that Roy has and putting harnesses onto models is just one of the ways that he demonstrates his dedication...... (did he use a Gri gri?)

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