At 6ish, I shared a third of a plate of fried hokkien mee with E. At 715pm, I decided to pump in more food into my system before the big climb and had a bowl of soup from Soup Spoon. At 8pm, I was all changed and started to feel really nervous and looking at the wall, I was thinking, Crap. Do I really have to climb it and abseil all the way down? But I couldn't quite back out now.
So it was my turn to have a go at the Via Ferrata. I didn't know the exact height of the wall - I only asked about it after I was done with the climb :P M&E joined us to have a shot at it and we separated into two groups. We left B.T and M to do their competitive climb whilst the 2 girls joined another dude for the 'group climb'. I volunteered to be the middle climber and sigh, I half regreted it mid-way because I had loads of work to do with the ropes and landed up tangled up in the mess half of the time :P
The wall is really really high and if you stand right in front of it, it can be rather daunting. Especially for a person who is afraid of heights.. yours truly me. I listened hard at the briefing and kept checking that I was secured. For the benefit of my Mom who is reading this, this system is really safe. It is a double safety measure where I am secured to the metal rungs by TWO 'lobster' claws which can only be opened if you pressed on both sides of the hook - think of it as a double lock. The secondary safety line is the long rope that connects all of us together (in the group). Of course it is dependable on whether everyone hooks it on and off correctly as we climb along but then, you have to trust each other. And I had a third safety point for myself, the resting carabiner. It is attached at waist level and you hook it onto a rung as you climb up. The sole purpose is to allow you to 'rest', shake out your arms while you sort the ropes out. You can be sure that I found every opportunity to hook that carabiner at every rung that I was at :P
We started to ascend on our climb. It looks really easy but once you are on it, it is tough. My arms felt tired at many points and I had to rest, catch a breath and shake my arms out to let the blood flow back. There were also times when the muscles started to tremble and shake and I had to stop and take a break. I was really relieved when we reached the first resting point which was a narrow ledge that was next to a restaurant :P I pitied the poor people at the restaurant that had to watch us climb up the wall. We attracted a lot of attention. There were many spectators in the mall. People were watching us as we climbed.
As we climbed as a team, you have to really trust your team mates and also be considerate. When I was tired, I would shout out to the guy above asking him to slow down. E was a real trooper and I've never seen anyone so calm! I was like a bag of nerves half of the time, not daring to look down because, well when you are afraid of heights, your legs go wobbly and a sinking feeling fills my tummy whenever you look down from a height.
The staff at Borderx were really helpful as well. They would climb alongside you, giving you enough space to try it out on your own, but were always there to lend a helping hand or advise if you needed help. Try stepping your foot over to the right I was told a few times and it really helps especially if you are not a seasoned rock climber. I have only rock climbed ONCE in my entire life in Krabi so I am really an amateur at this. And I really appreciated having the staff around to guide you because it made the whole climb less daunting, and more enjoyable.
B.T and M were like monkeys scaling the wall at high speed. They were delayed because they had to wait for us to complete the climb so I think they half regreted not doing the climb first *grin. When we finally reached the peak, I think I got really nervous because we had to abseil all the way down. The first guy went down first and he was like me, afraid of falling. Next it was my turn and I kept asking if I was secured. I think E was very amused :P
It really helped that we wore gloves because if you don't, there will be a fair amount of abrasion during the climb and the abseil. After I was secured and I had asked a zillion times if I was secured and please let me down slowly., I finally started on my descend. So the instructor will assist but controlling the speed at which you descend. If he finds that you are unable to control the speed, he will hold the rope and control the speed. The biggest challenge was walking off the ledge and slowly edging my legs over the platform and onto the wall. You have to keep your legs locked straight and there are times when I felt that my legs were losing contact with the wall and I was losing control. But I think my biggest mistake was being too uptight.
As I was descending down, I was spunned around to enjoy the view around the mall -_- I went Noooooo and spunned myself back to face the wall. I think everyone around me were really entertained. You could guessed how relieved I was when I finally touched the ground, dripping in sweat and all safe and sound.
So did I enjoy myself? Yes for sure. It is a lot more tiring and harder than most think - we took an hour in total. If you aren't afraid of heights, you will enjoy it more but even for me, I was more confident because I knew that the system set up was safe and secured and there are always instructors to advise you throughout the climb.
That was it for my experience, it was my pre birthday celebration for my 30th - to climb this 30 m wall, and I am glad that I did it :) I'll let the pictures 'share' the rest of the experience! Thanks to Borderx for the invite! We truly enjoyed ourselves!
More information at my previous post here.
Oh. One tip, if you are driving down to Orchard Central, I don't advise you to park at the mall itself. It is a winding spiral all the way up! This mall has great toilets though - similar to the ones found in Japan! With heated seats, the gadget to wash your butt and all and a dryer to uh dry everything. Really really cool.