Monday, 13 January 2014

Kayaks and karsts

Sunday morning, it rained.
Not wanting to skitter about on wet limestone, I put off climbing and instead sat and watched the rain massage the river. In the afternoon, a couple of us hired kayaks and paddled along the river for a few hours.
Having never kayaked before, it took me a little while to get the hang of it, but by the time we headed back I was much better at holding course and getting some semblance of momentum.

My knee (right) and Keisha (left)

The next day, along with Keisha, I did my first bit of climbing since starting the trip. 

There is currently very little climbing in Cambodia, and the infrastructure for it is not well-developed. The limestone karst just outside of Kampot is the project of a Danish climber named David, who in October secured permission to develop the karst for sport climbing, caving and via ferrata. Since then, he's bolted 4 routes. set up 3 via ferrata and tidied up some of the cave system. He's waiting for a delivery of 100 kilos of bolts, ropes, harnesses, rock shoes and so on, and has plans to bolt a further 40 routes, and set up another couple of via ferrata. 

 David and [I am bad at names]

 Keisha starts the first climb (it's an easy 3 to the via ferrata)

 l-r: Keisha, Julia and [I am bad with names] on the first VF

 I may have neglected to turn these pictures the right way up...

 Andrea singing her way down the abseil

 Mentally turn this one counterclockwise...
The caves in the karst were Buddist temples. The Khmer Rouge blasted the shrines. This is part of a staircase that now floats 20' above the floor of the cave. David plans to see where it goes once his gear turns up. Currently, no-one knows where it leads...

 See that cave?
No, what.... oh. That cave?

 Follow me...

 Kiesha on the climb...
(This was the abseil earlier)

I miss my rockboots...
Chimneys in trainers are rather taxing. I made it though! I was terribly proud of myself.

At the moment, there's enough there for a fun day (unless it was an experienced group - there wouldn't be enough for that, yet). Once David's finished bolting his more difficult routes, setting up the via ferrata to the more inaccessible cave systems, and exploring the temples, it will be a very interesting and entertaining facility. For a few years, it won't even be polished! 
Anyone fancy a trip to Kampot in about a year's time?

With great sadness, I called time on my stay in Kampot before I applied for a manager's job at my accommodation and emigrated to Cambodia.

Next stop, Chi Phat.

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