Subtly advertised on UKC climbing forum we asked if anyone would like to come to Borneo to develop a crag for free, we pay for the flights, all in-country expenses and provide all the gear to climb and rig a 130 metre-high sandstone cliff.
We did have some amusing approaches and it took us longer than we had hoped to get it all sorted but eventually we settled on two great young climbers with impressive experience and a bagfull of enthusiasm.
So what is this all about? I hear you mumble, well let me tell you;
I am a Brit living in Malaysian North Borneo, a state called Sabah, I have a company that does rigging, you know the stuff, dope on a rope and all that. we actually specialise in film rigging and if you have watched any stuff on borneo trees or caves recently the chances are that we did the rigging. Myself and my partner used to be climbers, that is until we moved out here and got caught up in running our own business so we have always wanted to develop rock-climbing in Sabah since there is a small amount of good rock (not least the magnificent Granite of mount Kinabalu - 4095m).
When a hotel developer asked us to do a site visit to Berhala island to look at the possibility of recreational climbing development we went along to see what was there and were blown away by the place. Its a huge crag and there is a lot of it to choose from. Sure enough some of it is soft but most is fine and it only takes a few seconds of looking to see dozens of obvious lines leap out at you.
The hotel company want to develop a hotel with a focus on outdoor activities and the cliff is the obvious place to start, we proposed to bolt the lines that couldnt be climbed traditionally since it was meant for high levels of climbing traffic. When we did the proposal we figured that th best way to do it would be to get a couple of mad keen climbers to come and have the first stab at developing the crag.
What an opportunity, these guys get the chance to be the first climbers, to name the routes, and to write the guidebook, on a crag with zero development, a rare situation these days.