After my climbing day with Mia, Robin took her course in lead climbing and I headed out for a day of deepwater soloing. As far as I know, DWS is unique to the area. The idea is simple: instead of using ropes to break your fall (free climbing), or climbing close enough to the ground that you won’t injure yourself if you fall (bouldering), you climb with clear, deep water below you.
This trip was organized by Basecamp Tonsai and they did a great job. We had a longtail boat to take us to the cliffs, which were near Chicken Island. We climbed at one spot in the morning, ate lunch on the beach at Chicken Island, then climbed at a different spot in the afternoon. The details were well thought out. They had a kayak to ferry you between the longtail and the cliff, both because longtails aren’t very manuverable and to prevent climbers from falling into the longtail (ouch!) Some climbs were equipped with ladders to make getting out of the kayak easier, and some were equipped with chalk bags at the start.
In the morning, I only climbed the intro route, which was a grade 5 traverse followed by a 6a diagonal to a ledge 10m above the water. (10m is considered safe – you can hit the water any way without injury.) One of the guys climbed a 7a to 20m up, which was impressive to watch!
In the afternoon, I managed a 6a traverse on my second try, and got up all but the last move of a 6b stalactite. (Signs you’re among climbers: the Thai guide who speaks about 300 words of English knows the word "stalactite.") I wasn’t climbing as well as usual. Mostly, I found it inconvenient to climb while wet without much chalk. Oh well, it was fun.
All in all, it was a great day. Between climbs, I got in some swimming and snorkeling, chatted with climbers, and watched some great climbing. At one point in the afternoon, one of the boatmen climbed most of a ridiculous crack (grade 8c if memory serves), fell off, then spent about 15 minutes traversing all over the face. An amazing climber!
So if you’re a climber travelling in Thailand, head out on a Basecamp Tonsai Deepwater Solo trip! I think it’s best to do it as your last day in Railay/Tonsai though, so you have more time to get used to the local rock and build some strength.