Climbing Crazy Horse in Chiang Mai

We got in a couple of days of climbing here in the 5th largest city in Thailand. The Crazy Horse Buttress is a local crag that’s been well developed by climbers from the city’s only climbing shop, CMRC. They run guiding services but also for 250 Baht they’ll shuttle you to the crag and feed you lunch so long as someone else is going that day.

The drive is not far, about 40km, but the first day climbing we rented a small 110cc Honda Mio scooter and returning in the evening with traffic was more excitement than Mark could handle. The food and the comfort of the back of the sangthaew (a covered pickup truck with benches) allowed us a much better second day of climbing, which included Zoe’s first real 6a (5.10a/b) sport lead climb. And the prepared Thai lunches were delicious.

The rock is the same Ratburi limestone karst found throughout peninsular SE Asia, however, without the salt sea air and the sheer amount of climbing traffic (as in Phra Nang) the holds are much more positive. There is even the odd off width crack climb. Mark’s father’s military climbing instructor would’ve proudly admonished “jam your hand in that crack!” and we did; it was overrated at 6c (5.11a, more like a 6b+ or 5.10c/d) called ‘Song of Stone’; we top roped it. Though Mark did lead a 6c+ (albeit hang dog fashion) called ‘The Tree Surgeon’ which was seriously pumpy on the back side of the Crazy Horse Buttress cave.

We met an Australian couple at breakfast/on the crag that recognized us from Tonsai where we had stayed at the same bungalows. They are traveling the same route we are, hitting the major climbing destinations between Thailand and China, only for them this is just the first few months of an 8 month trip as they move on to France and then Africa. In another coincidence, they have also been looking up Avatar showtimes at cineplexes across southeast Asia, but like us have yet to make it to a showing in theaters (we both passed on the Russian bootleg copy they showed at the bungalow restaurant in Tonsai).

Next up for climbing and culture: Laos