After paddling out to Poda Island and booking on deep water soloing day we were excited to get picked up by Tonsai Basecamp and get climbing. Deep water soloing is rock climbing above deep water without any ropes or equipment. I along with most climbers have never soloed (climbed without gear) before. It is a very different feeling having nothing to catch your fall but the sea. Now most would think that because there is water below them it makes everything easy. Well that water is still quite a ways down once you realize how far you have climbed up. If you fall the wrong way you could easily hurt yourself. We were told to meet at the beach somewhere in the middle. So we did, they told us to look for guys wearing red Base Camp shirts. They were a bit late but we looked up and down the beach a few time. There are hundreds of boats anchored there in the morning. So keep an eye out for them, it was difficult to spot them.
We met some Malaysian, Canadians, French, and Koreans on our boat and headed off to the first cliff. We had passed it the previous day on our kayaking trip but had no idea. There was a ladder tucked away in the rocks and that is what we used to get to the base of the climb. Everyone had a different skill level so some were staying close to the water and others were going way up the cliff. We climbed up to the first ledge and jumped off roughly 30 feet or so. We did that a few times and I also tried around the corner to climb some stalactites. So far the only problem was that there were so many people it was getting dangerous to climb. Having people directly above or below you climbing is nerve racking. If I make a mistake I am landing on someones head and the person above me would do the same. I waited patiently for the people above me to traverse or jump that way I could go. The other climbers around just did whatever. During the off-season the whole experience would be a whole lot better, and safer. Most of the issues happen though because of there being one ladder that leads off into all the different routes.
I could see that everyone was getting tired and hungry so finally the guide decided to take us into a little bay with a tiny beach for lunch. Lunch was delicious and the location was awesome. The sand was very fine and there were caves to explore. We ate and rested for over an hour and it was off to cliff number two. First thing I noticed was that this is the rock face that is featured in a ton of climbing videos and articles. It has a massive stalactite hanging from the wall and the entire face looks blank. There was a 10-12 foot climb up the ladder to the rock. Climbing the ladder with we hands and shoes is harder than climbing on the rock! I went first and climbed up to the ledge. Let me tell you looking down at 40+ foot drop makes your stomach drop. Climbing up there is the easy part because you aren’t thinking about how you have to get back down. You can’t rappel or lower of anchors. After waiting a minute, chatting with the guy beside me who said he really hates heights and enjoying the view from up there my balls finally dropped and so did I. Adam was up next and did the same thing as me. Sara and Hayley climbed up the ladder and went up a few feet to do a short but fun drop into the sea below.
It was definitely a unique experience and something I would do again. If you like climbing and your in Ao Nang head to Tonsai Base Camp and go climbing!