Climbing in Borneo

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

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Berhala Island, Bolted climbing in Sabah

Berhala Island, Bolted climbing in Sabah
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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.

Written by MALCOLM JITAM:


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.

Protection
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.

Bouldering
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.


Caving
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). 

Danger
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: asend@gmail.com .

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).


5 comments:

  1. Hello Simon,

    Thanks so much for the information.

    I am a Dutch climber (living in Spain) and I will be visiting Est malaysia in between 1 July and 23 August. From te 15th of July on I will be working as a tourguide for a Dutch company. But first I have two weeks to myself for some exploring etc. I would really like to try and go out rockclimbing while in Kuching. I think I will be there from 3 july onwards and stay for some days. Do you know anybody who would like to go out climbing with me then? I am an experienced rock climber and instructor and climb up to 7c+ French grading. After Kuching I will be traveling to Mulu, Kota Kinabalu and Mabul Islland. If you have more info about climbing for me in those areas I wld be vvery gratefull! Thax, Marina

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