Friday, January 22, 2016

เขากะโหลก :: Khao Kalok :: Skull Mountain

In the distance, that's the giant boulder to climb up.

I'm a keen recorder of scenery and whatever. But after Bali's volcano treks, I've decided never to lug a camera along to trails that require climbing. While I have an excellent sense of balance honed by decades of gymnastics and parkour, I'm not very good at worrying about a camera when dealing with acrophobia and struggling to find hand and footholds. Nope, not getting a GoPro. It doesn't quite work for me. And definitely not whipping out the phone in the middle of climbing to take photos. That's what my brain and eyes are for- capture memories.

It was a toss up between scampering up Khao Kalok (เขากะโหลก, loosely translated into Skull Mountain) or watching turtles scamper. Settled on the former which would guarantee maximum physical exertion. Sweat like hell.

Khao Kalok is accessible from the beach. In fact, the entire bay area of beaches, eateries and resorts is called Khao Kalok. I keep looking at the 'mountain' and it feels like a hill. It's not even 2000ft. Okay, more like a giant boulder. Limestone and solid rocks. There're many of these boulders and small rocky hills dotting Pranburi and along the Burmese border. Feel free to climb any. :P

Access to the boulders is easy via the beach. Again, the Thais have installed wooden poles and ropes to help climbers along the way. There're several routes picked out with anchors and slings. Double-check always to ensure that they're secure, and go up whichever one that looks clear to you. We brought harnesses, extra cords, carabiners, quickdraws and basic essentials. Gloves, of course. I'm not particularly experienced in rock climbing, and would prefer to belay all the way, but I'm terrified of falling and in that scenario, climbing via footholds feels better.

It was a splendid workout. 

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