CMRCA Climbing Blog

 

Share This Page

Happy New Year from CMRCA!

Dear CMRCA Community,

On 31 July of this year, I stood on the summit of the Grand Teton in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It was one of the most beautiful days of the year with crystal clear weather and a bright blue sky that seemed to go on forever. I was standing on top of the summit with four other CMRCA family members. My lovely wife Kat, Guide / Facilitator Surachet (Add) Kongsingh, former staff member Somjai (Pui) Miller and friend and CMRCA jack-of-all-trades, Brendan (Ben) Carroll. Not only that but we happened to bump into the Founder of Black Diamond Equipment, Peter Metcalf and another climber who recognized us and shouted,

“hey! I bought these climbing shoes from you in Chiang Mai!  I climbed at Crazy Horse this winter and it was awesome!”

Ben and I had just climbed ahead of what was probably the first all Thai ascent of the Upper Exum Ridge of the Grand Teton, one of America’s classic routes. Add had just finished a 3 month internship in the US that included a WEMT certification with WMA and a guiding internship in Boulder, Colorado with the Colorado Mountain School. Now he was putting his guiding techniques to use guiding Kat and Pui up the route.

I took a moment to think about the experience. In 2004, we decided that we wanted to create a program that would help lift the standard of climbing in Asia by exposing our guides to climbing outside of their home crag. Though it took 9 years to get the program off the ground, Add was now the third participant in the program and had helped the program grow to new heights. For me, this was the perfect way to sum up our progression as an organization and our our efforts to inspire an outdoor lifestyle that motivates people to live more sustainably.

The dictionary defines the word Progression as, “a steady movement to a more advanced state or place.” Standing on top of the Tetons laid the foundation for the metaphor of progression within our own organization.

It’s been an exciting year and we have accomplished a lot. We began last year with an initiative to Bolt Heart Wall and with your support have been able to add 16 new lines to Heart Wall. In February we opened a warehouse to meet the growing needs of outdoor gear in Thailand. In April, we went back to Pha Daeng Cave in Northern Thailand and finished rigging to the end of the cave while also aiding up a blank wall at the end of the cave. It was a great opportunity to revisit a cave that has been in our minds for a long time and continue to explore and look for new possibilities of an exit in the enormous system. We took a team of guides to the US to spend some time climbing on the beautiful sandstone towers of Moab and get certified to provide climbing wall instructor certifications in Asia. We upgraded our staff to WFR certification while also offering a WFA course to the public to help create a better trained adventure community.

We were able to send Add to the USA and also Thai National Team Athlete Puntarika Tunyavanich (Nong Mean) to compete at the famous Psicocomp in Salt Lake City, Utah. In October we hosted professional climbing coach Obe Carrion in Bangkok and Chiang Mai to share his experience with the climbing community and help inspire the climbing community. Last month we finished an advanced guide training with IFMGA guide Joseph Thompson as part of our exchange with the Colorado Mountain School. We have had trainings with team building gurus Tim Walther and Jim Cain, and we have welcomed a number of new people to our family to help us continue to deliver adventure programs and equipment to our community and partners.

2016 is looking even better and there are some exciting things coming your way including an iPhone app for Climbing in Northern Thailand, new crag development, the Reel Rock Tour, continuing the launch of Progression Leadership, hosting over 800 students on our student programs, and other projects in our organization that we think you will be psyched to hear about. None of this could be done without the commitment and dedication of our team and your incredible support.

As you look ahead to 2016, we wish you a happy and healthy new year. We hope it’s a year in which you can stand on top of mountains and look back at where you have come from and all the hard work and effort it took to get there. Thank you for being part of our journey and we look forward to the adventure ahead with you.
Climb On!
Josh Morris

 

01 - The Team with Metcalf

CMRCA Crew with Peter Metcalf (Founder, Black Diamond Equipment) on the Grand Teton, Jackson Hole, WY.

02 - Thais on summit

 

Add, Pui, Kat on the Grand Teton, Jackson Hole, WY.

03 - File 12-30-15, 08 03 50

 

Pha Daeng Caving Expedition 2015 in Northern Thailand.

04 - File 12-30-15, 08 04 28

 

Gee rappelling into Pha Daeng Cave in Northern Thailand.

05 - File 12-28-15, 10 20 59

Taw, Josh, Mario, Add and Alan on climbing trip in Moab, Utah.

06 - File 12-28-15, 10 19 37

Can’t get enough desert towers!  Moab, Utah

07 - File 12-28-15, 10 16 18

Puntarika Tunyavanich (Nong Mean) competing at the Psicocomp in Salt Lake City, UT.

08 - File 12-28-15, 10 17 12

North Face Athlete, Emily Harrington, and Puntarika Tunyavanich (Nong Mean) competing at the Psicocomp in Salt Lake City, UT.

09 - File 12-30-15, 07 55 51

Former pro climber and Mad Rock Designer, Obe Carrion, setting routes with CMRCA guide team in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

10 - File 12-30-15, 08 00 27

The force is strong! CMRCA family movie night to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

A Guide to Climbing in Northern Thailand Goes Digital

Have you ever been at the crag, opened your guidebook and scanned the wall to figure out what that beautiful line is only to find it isn’t in the guidebook?  We experience that all the time.  Even today, with the more than 25 new routes in the past year, our guidebook is not 100% current.  It’s the challenge of keeping a guidebook current while there is continued development at the crag.  It’s a constant challenged deciding how many books to print, what quality, and how to balance new development with updating information. Inevitably we end up with too many old copies, wasting paper creating more trash.

January 2016 marks an end to that with the release of the Guide to Rock Climbing in Northern Thailand iPhone App. Now your guidebook fits in the palm of your hand and contains the most up to date information.  As soon as a new area is updated or a new route is developed, the app updates and you get the most current information including any new routes or other new information.

The app includes everything you need to experience climbing in Northern Thailand including:

  • Detailed topos and route info
  • Crag overview with access and approach information
  • Route search function that enables you to search by name, grade, and area
  • Detailed information on Chiang Mai including food, travel and lodging
  • Detailed step by step instructions for getting to Crazy Horse Buttress
  • Emergency and hospital information
  • Detailed information on the Mae On Valley including restaurants, lodging and adventures
  • Key beta on other climbing areas in Thailand including Krabi, Bangkok, Sikhiu and Khon Kaen

We are just finishing the final touches of our beta testing and version 1.0 will launch in early 2016. We have included some screenshots from the app below. Future versions will include options to add other areas in Northern Thailand including Chiang Dao, Mae Sai and new areas currently under development.

 

Guidebook 102

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0304

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

05Guide book 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

07

08

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

09 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11 12

16 New Routes at Heart Wall

Wherever you go, go with all your heart. – Confucius

CMRCA is always looking to develop our favorite crag and 2015 was the year for Heart Wall. At REEL ROCK 9 in January 2015, we launched the Bolt Heart Wall campaign to raise funds to develop new routes on the left side of Heart Wall. Our community came together and raised over THB 70,000 to support the effort. The Left Ventricle is now beating with 16 new routes graded from 5c to 6c.
Bolt Heart Wall 2015 from CMRCA on Vimeo.

At Crag Clean-Up Day 2015, we came together to build a new trail for easier access to the Left Ventricle and all of Heart Wall.  Access to Heart Wall is now shorter and easier. Thanks to everyone that supported the Bolt Heart Wall campaign both financially and bolting with us throughout the year.

Along with Heart Wall, we continued to re-bolt routes, replace anchors, and set new routes at old crags and potential new areas.

Our goals for crag development in 2016:

  • Update the CMRCA Bolting Standards and Curriculum to become a guideline for future crag development in Thailand and to promote throughout the climbing community.
  • Train and expand the CMRCA bolting team.
  • Open two new areas at Crazy Horse.
  • Expand existing areas like Buddha Buttress, Heart Wall, Roof Top, and Junkyard.
  • Develop more multi-pitch terrain at Tamarind Village and Anxiety State Crisis Cave.
  • Rebolting – a long term goal of zero expansion bolts at Crazy Horse in the future.

We are passionate about increasing accessibility and opportunities for climbing at Crazy Horse Buttress. Let us know what you would like to see and any feedback you have by emailing bolting@thailandclimbing.com.

 

amga (3)

 

amgaamga (1)

Setting New Standards in 2015

The last 12 months have been highlighted with incredible progress in our climbing and outdoor staff certifications. Along with certifying our staff, we have also opened our trainings to the public. Check out the Get Certified section of the website to read about opportunities for development.

AMGA Single-Pitch and Advanced Trainings

amga_logo10 This November was busier than ever.  We brought back American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) instructor and IFMGA Guide, Joey Thompson, to certify some of our newer climbing guides and to teach advanced guiding techniques to our senior staff.

Moving outside of single pitch terrain our guides learned advanced techniques that open the door for higher ratio guiding in single pitch and multi pitch terrain.  Now our guides are equipped with tools that enable them to manage more clients in a single day while maintaining a high standard of quality and safety for clients.  This opens up new opportunities for clients to go multi-pitch climbing with more people and to get more out of a single day.

The AMGA continues to shape and set the standards of guiding at CMRCA and we hope to assist in developing standards throughout Thailand and Southeast Asia.  We are excited to see what the future will bring for our guides.  Many of them have started training for the next level of AMGA certifications in the disciplines of guiding in rock and alpine terrain.

Wilderness Medicine

Wilderness-Medical-Associates-logoCMRCA Guide, Add Kongsingh, travelled to the U.S. in the spring as part of our annual guide exchange program.  This year in addition to the guide exchange, he was able to participate in a Wilderness Medical Associates (WMA) Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT) course in Michigan. Add has his WEMT certification and is passionate about continuing his development in the field and increasing accessibility of wilderness medicine education in Thailand. Add has played a critical role in helping us open Wilderness First Aid courses to other providers and outdoor enthusiasts by working with WMA instructors and simultaneously translating the courses into Thai.

In August 2015, the full guide and program facilitation team participated in a WMA Wilderness First Responder (WFR) Course with Simon Dilks. The whole group passed the course and it marks a new standard for senior and assistant program staff at CMRCA. WFR is the industry standard for outdoor guiding globally.

Climbing Wall Association

CWA MasterVertLogo_Small159pxJosh, Taw, Add, Mario and Alan traveled in May to the U.S. to join the Climbing Wall Association (CWA) Summit in Boulder, Colorado. The group participated in the CWA Climbing Wall Instructor (CWI) Provider Course. CMRCA is now a provider for indoor CWI (top rope and lead) courses and has begun to facilitate courses throughout Thailand, including with our partners at Rock Domain, Urban Playground, and Prem Center.

During the trip, the team made a side journey to world famous Moab to climb some desert towers and cracks on the world famous sandstone.  It represented another milestone for us in promoting a healthy lifestyle rooted in adventure.  We are looking forward to many more climbing adventures in the coming year.

CMRCA is offering CWI Trainings throughout the year in Chiang Mai and is available for private courses throughout Southeast Asia. Check out the Get Certified section of our website for upcoming course dates.

 

amga 6

IFMGA Guide and our AMGA Instructor, Joey Thompson

amga

AMGA SPI Course 2015 – Joey Thompson and Add Kongsingh

amga 5

AMGA SPI Course 2015 – Ethan Berman, Joey Thompson and M Waters.

CWA

CWA Course at Urban Playground (Bangkok) – CMRCA and CWA Instructor, Taw Uppakham.

CWA 2

CWA Course at Urban Playground (Bangkok) – CMRCA and CWA Instructors, Taw Uppakham and Alan Avedovech. 

File 12-28-15, 10 19 03

The crew in Moab – Taw Uppakham, Alan Avedovech, Mario Wild, Josh Morris and Add Kongsingh.

File 12-28-15, 10 20 03

Add Kongsingh in Moab, Utah.

 

Welcome to the Family

When we began in December of 2002, we were just 4 people passionate about climbing. Since then our full time staff has grown to more than 30 people with a passion for adventure, new experiences and intercultural connection.  This fall we have been lucky to welcome five new members of our family.  Meet – Harry, Alan, Aey, Alex, and Meghan!

We asked them – what has been like to become a part of the CMRCA Family? What has been your best adventure experience so far with CMRCA? What are you looking forward to the most in 2016?

Harry Vowell, Operations Director

harryI’ve only been here for 3 months but it feels like a decade. CMRCA truly has a family-like relationship. Understanding other people’s perceptions and working to develop productive individual and team relationships is a dynamic that is highly valued. I look forward to growing and developing as a part of the CMRCA family and to the many adventures that await us all.

Taking part in my first marathon at this year’s Chiang Mai Marathon, was both a physically and mentally challenging activity that helped push my boundaries. Bo (CMRCA Climbing Guide) helped me keep pace throughout the first quarter of the course and increased his pace through the remaining distance. I fell back a little, but it was always refreshing to see him at the U-Turn points, boosting my energy to try to catch up with him, but he was the stronger runner. Even though it took a bit of a toll on my joints towards the end of the run, but to run to the finish line and see everyone at CMRCA cheering, laughing and smiling as I approached was truly a great moment. I have now signed up for my next marathon in February 2016 and Bo is looking to complete at least 3 more in 2016. Live Adventure!

I look forward to facing new challenges and conquering existing ones in both my professional and personal walks of life. I hope to succeed with the support of my friends and family here at CMRCA. A more specific example is that I hope to become an active climber. This will require discipline and dedication from my side, but with the help and support of both the professional and friendly climbing guides at CMRCA, I’m stoked at what 2016 holds for me.

Alan Avedovech, Adventure Program Manager

Alan PhotoI feel so lucky to be a part of the CMRCA family!  Moving to Thailand from another part of the world was a huge and slightly frightening decision but thanks to the support from CMRCA I have transitioned fairly smoothly. They made it so easy for me by organizing things to set me up for success. A one month home stay that turned into two months and a lifelong friendship, Thai language classes, and welcoming and supportive arms. All these things helped me understand this new place I call home and I am eternally grateful to CMRCA for welcoming me to their family!

CMRCA is one of the most dynamic places I have ever worked… organized chaos I like to think. If we aren’t working hard we are playing hard as a family!  My favorite adventure memory to date with this family is the staff retreat where we all got to go kayaking through the jungle. Some of the staff had never even swam before and here they were going whitewater kayaking – I can’t forget to mention the after party!  We all survived and had a great time out on the water. Some people conquered fears and some were able to give support to those who needed. Not only was this a fun adventure but it was an amazing way for us all to connect with each other and to prepare ourselves for the upcoming busy season.

I’m looking forward to having one season under my belt and completely understanding how I can help support my team!  I’m looking forward to becoming more rooted within the CMRCA family and to help with the success of the business. We are growing so fast and I just can’t wait to see what this next year brings. Where will our guides go and climb? What trainings will we do? It is all still so new to me and I’m so excited for all of the adventures we will have together!  Watch out 2016!

Aey, Marketing & Events Coordinator

CMRCA fAey Photoamily is very interesting and I have been learning all the time. All product and service are very challenging, I wish to develop myself and grow up with this family. The best adventure experience so far is the cultural diversity and to work with many people from different countries. I am looking forward to exploring new things, to learn more about new people, get more healthy and enjoy more time with my family in 2016

Alex, Program Coordinator

Alex - PhotoI am passionate about doing adventure activities like biking, white water rafting, ziplining, and climbing. I made decision to become a part of CMRCA family to fill up on these experiences. My best adventure experience with CMRCA for now is to grow up with CMRCA family. As I am new here and have no idea much about this and will tell you later for sure. In 2016, I am looking forward to exploring new places that I haven’t been – travel is the best answer for me that I am looking for this year.

Meghan O’Hern, Princeton in Asia Fellow

Meghan - PhotoThe CMRCA family has been incredibly hospitable and welcoming! Everyone is supportive and great to collaborate with. The best adventure experience so far was the jungle kayaking at the staff retreat. Chiang Dao was beautiful and it was really fun. I am looking forward to learning more about a joining more student programs in 2016.

 

 

Our Prices are Climbing… Here’s Why!

Attention climbers, cavers and adventure enthusiasts! CMRCA is committed to providing the best adventure services in Asia and maintaining a commitment to sustainable practices in the development of Crazy Horse Buttress. In order to continue to provide quality services of an international standard, we will be increasing our prices at the end of 2015. We maintain the same commitment to community and a passion for adventure as we work together to continue developing climbing in Northern Thailand. We thank you for your continued support and partnership in building climbing in Thailand.

Please note: The Thai Authority of Tourism requires that CMRCA provide insurance for all users of our services. Therefore we will be increasing the price of climber transportation to fulfill the Thailand Authority of Tourism legal requirement. Beginning 01 December 2015, every time you use our climber transportation service, you will be covered for THB 500,000 in medical expenses and THB 3,000,000 for severe injuries and loss of life. This coverage applies to transportation to and from the climbing area as well as while you are climbing. The insurance lasts for 24 hours from the time you leave the office. We understand that this may be a slight inconvenience. We apreciate your willingess to support us and hope that the added benefit of insurance coverage will help you in your adventures.

We look forward to an incredible year of adventure with you . Thank you for your support and as always, Climb ON!

Khon Kaen Bouldering Festival 2016

12186764_515637185284383_7817194544393957308_o

Join us for an unforgettable two day bouldering festival event in Khon Kaen presented by Black Diamond Thailand. This year’s event includes an action packed two days of climbing on fresh new bouldering terrain in the capital of Isaan.  Choose to participate as either a competitor or a spectator and gain access tot the full event, discount gear, prize raffles, free Saturday night dinner, free camping, event festivities and incredible climbing and
bouldering.

EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION FEES (BEFORE DEC. 5, 2015)
competitors: 995THB
spectators: 450THB

REGULAR ADMISSION FEES (AFTER DEC. 5, 2015)
competitors: 1250THB
spectators: 550THB

Register Here!
This year’s event includes a bouldering competition on the scintillating sandstone of Nam Phong National Park. Choose form more than 100 problems including up to 25 top-rope problems to ensure you have the best exposure to this incredible climbing venue. Additional competitions will be held throughout the event including the Pull-Up Competition and more. Free prize give aways complement a fun and festive atmosphere in the climber camping zone along with access to the discount equipment tents.

What’s Included?
This year’s event is action packed to ensure you get your fill of bouldering and the Thailand climbing scene. Your entry fee gets you the following:

Competitors’ Fees Include:
Welcome & Registration packet filled with discount coupons, free samples and more.
Competition topo & guide to the boulders.
Unlimited access to the bouldering area on 16 and 17 January.
Two days’ Accident & Medical insurance to cover you while climbing,
Two nights’ free camping.
Access to the Khon Kaen Boulder Fest Equipment Village where you will receive huge discounts on the best brands.
Free event t-shirt.
Event dinner on Saturday, 16 January 2016
Free-entry into the Khon Kaen Boulder Fest Gear Raffle
Free access to climbing clinics
Free access to evening competitions including the Pull-Up Competition, Milk Crate Stacking Competition and more.

Spectators’ Fees Include:
Two days’ Accident & Medical insurance to cover you while climbing,
Two nights’ free camping.
Access to the Khon Kaen Boulder Fest Equipment Village where you will receive huge discounts on the best brands.
Event dinner on Saturday, 16 January 2016
Free access to evening competitions including the Pull-Up Competition, Milk Crate Stacking Competition and more.

Entrance to Nam Phong National Park is NOT included in the registration fees. Both competitors and spectators will be charged an access fee to the Nam Phong National Park by the National Park Service. Fees for the National Park are as follows:

Thai Nationals
20 THB

Foreign Nationals
100 THB

Participants are expected to bring their own sleeping bags, tents and other sleeping equipment. The national park will have equipment for rent for those who do not have a tent or sleeping bag.

PRESENTING SPONSOR: Black Diamond Thailand

OFFICIAL SPONSORS: Poda Store, Friction Labs, Klean Kanteen Thailand, Sterling Rope Thailand, and Mad Rock Thailand

AMGA SPI

We are excited to host another round of American Mountain Guides Association

(AMGA) Single Pitch Instructor (SPI) courses next month. If you are not familiar

with the AMGA…

 

“The AMGA’s founders were hardcore climbers and skiers

who understood the outdoor culture thoroughly. They

realized the soul of these sports didn’t have to be

compromised by organization. Organization could instead

serve to bring the community together in a revolutionary

way. It could provide mountain guides with resources,

services, and credentials to boost their careers, but also

with connections to each other and to the larger community

of guides and clients across the country and around the

globe. These are the ways we lead and promote the guiding

community.”

 

The AMGA has developed a standard of practice amongst climbing guides in

America. Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures (CMRCA) has recognized the

importance of standard practices and we feel they reflect closely to our

company’s core values. We feel standards will help unify Thailand’s guiding

community and spread a value of professionalism and quality in guiding

programs throughout the country.

Blog Post

We currently have 7 SPI certified guides working at CMRCA and this month we

hope to raise that number to 10. Not only are we certifying our own guides, but

we are offering the course to general public as well. This means local Thais are

now getting certified and using the AMGA standard here in Thailand. We have

people signed up from all over the country and we are excited to spread this

standard nationwide.

2556_11_02_amga_spi_training__0007

If you are interested in participating in one of these courses please check out this

link (http://www.thailandclimbing.com/spi/) to access more information about

the program.

 

Off the Beaten Path

IMG_6107
This week was our annual CMRCA staff retreat! On Wednesday we packed our bags and headed out to explore Chiang Dao. We had an outstanding two days setting goals for 2016 and coming together as a family.
IMG_0506
Ninety five kilometers north of Chiang Mai, sits a small green creek that twists itself through undisturbed woods and quiet farmland. We arrived here, anxious, excited, and unaware of the challenges that lay before us. While some of us were avid kayakers, others had never stepped foot in water.  Nevertheless, everyone put on their lifejackets and headed downstream. For the next few hours we were floating (and capsizing) on the mighty Mae Taeng river.
IMG_0558
The next day was filled with games and activities that forced us to work together. This gave us an opportunity to grow as individuals and as a family.
IMG_0497
While the retreat was fun and relaxing, it definitely pushed us out of our comfort zones. Overall, we had an incredible time laughing, learning, and preparing for the year ahead.

Bombing in Bangkok

On Monday, 17 August, a bomb exploded in central Bangkok. It was a senseless act of violence and Thai authorities continue to search for those responsible for this attack. All of us at CMRCA send our deepest condolences to the families of those that were killed and continue to recover in Bangkok hospitals.

The attack appears to be an isolated incident and there have not been any attacks outside of Bangkok and in our region. We are committed to the health and safety of our customers and community. We will keep our local and global network up to date in the coming days.

CMRCA guiding, store, and programming services remain open for regular business hours. We are gearing up for a busy high season and hope to see you at the shop, crag or out on your next adventure soon.

Page 2 of 2312345...1020...Last »