Rock Climbing in Laos! Green Climbers Home

Xavi paid the tuk tuk driver, since I had had my wallet stolen in Vientiane. Luckily, Green Climbers Home operates on a credit system, and you pay at the end of your stay for lodging, food, and anything else. Because of this, I had 9 days to figure out how to get funds for the rest of my trip.

Side note:
Back in the early fall my buddy, Scott Homan, had mentioned that he was going to Laos to meet up with Xavier and climb. He – kind of – invited me, and after a rough fall, I figured a trip like this was just what I needed.

Green Climbers Home sits in a valley surrounded by tall limestone mountains that jut straight up out of the flat earth.

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The resort is two large thatch-roofed buildings resting on stilts surrounded by bungalos, also on stilts. Apparently it floods every year. There are also two dorms, and two areas of tented camping. I think in all they can accommodate about 100 climbers at a time.

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The climbing is super steep, varied, fun limestone climbing over pockets, tufas, and stalactites. Endurance and core power is the most important thing here. For me, this was mostly a climbing trip, and I barely took my camera out. But by the end of the trip I was feeling that I couldn’t leave without having a few climbing photos.

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A climber works up Jungle King (7b) in the Roof

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Xavi climbs Jungle King barefoot, because...he can.

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An incredibly strong, older Japanese woman gets the send on Jungle King. Everyone was in awe of her grace.

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Diana Wendt got the send on Jungle King after a few tries. My endurance kept me from getting this 
beautiful route.

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Chrissi Kuehn and Pete? climb two roof routes

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Diana prepares to make the crux move on Jungle King

 

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GCH's original restaurant burned down last fall, so they were busy rebuilding it in the same spot.

I slept in a tent for nine days. It was pretty comfortable, but I was very happy it was not any hotter than it was. The tent was not really made for the tropics, having almost no ventilation. But it was about 100 feet from the river that runs through this cave, so I could go for a swim any time I was over heated.

The cave is pretty incredible, a huge cavern with three entrances. Standing on this rock, you can see two of the entrances, but the third, you apparently have to go wading through chest deep water for a while. I didn’t go explore it.

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Xavier and Scott made plans to shoot a short film with Richard Seisl, who wanted to put up a highline (slackline) up in the mouth of the cave. They asked me to help shoot the video. I couldn’t not take stills too.

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The morning light coming into the cave was killer!

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Here’s the finished video, I shot most of the wide angle shots and a few of the details.

 

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The restaurant's usual state at night

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No shoes allowed in the restaurant.

Green Climbers Home is a fantastic destination for climbers in Southeast Asia. I recommend that you check it out. I’d love to go back. I do wish that they would fix their shoddy anchor systems.

Message to Green Climbers Home: It’s incredibly frustrating and dangerous for us climbers. If it’s because it’s expensive to buy chains, charge everyeone an extra dollar. That’s plenty to fund changing out all of the expired climbing rope tying together two traditional metal hangers and a single hardware store d-link. You don’t want to wait until your “genius”, cheap, dangerous method fails.

3 thoughts on “Rock Climbing in Laos! Green Climbers Home

  1. Thank you Scott for this great article and the wonderful pictures. They are awesome!
    But your last comment makes me really sad and angry. It is not true that the anchor system is unsafe!
    1. The Quicklinks we use are all certified, from climbing brands and taking min. 2,5 tons of weight. How heavy are you?
    2. If you worried about the sling in between the hangers just watch this video.:

    3. Scott, you were here a long time and we got to know each other. Why didn’t you talk with us personally instead of spreading out your own unqualified comment into the world!?

    1. Thanks for reaching out. I really appreciate all of the work you have put into developing this area; it’s an incredible place. I did talk with several of your employees and co-owners?? about the unsafe nature of the anchor systems, and almost every climber that I talked to about the system agreed with me. I’m sorry that I did not sit down and discuss the issue with you directly. The response I got from the employees was amazement that the system could be unsafe, as if no one had ever mentioned it before. The issue is not just the quicklinks.
      -A rope running over small quicklink receives more stress and wear because of the narrower gauge. It is effectively pinching the rope. Running it through two chain links or a single, wide rap ring minimizes this.
      -Because the quicklink is attached directly to the bolt, in many occasions the rope is being pulled over incredibly sharp rocks. If chains were utilized, it could allow the rope to be some distance from the rock, minimizing the amount of drag over the sharp rocks. This matters in particular because of the violent nature of cleaning steep routes, the rope is in danger of being hewn in two under extreme stress.
      -In the states we are taught to never have rope or webbing touching the sharp edge of a hanger. Yes, it will probably hold, but there is a possibility of failure. You cannot guarantee 100% that all of your retired rope anchors will hold every time. It is better to employ a method that is far less likely to fail. Chains.
      -Why not have your anchors equally weighted so you minimize the chances of a bolt failing? Yes, it’s unlikely, but again, you can’t guarantee that it won’t happen. It’s better to protect it optimally than the, “If nothing goes wrong, this works perfectly” method.
      -There is one anchor in particular (there could be others that I didn’t climb) that were only one bolt that is backed up by 2 meters of rope to a tree. This is extremely difficult to clean. You have the quicklink, the rope, and your draw all through a single hanger. This is far too much for one hanger to handle. To remove your draw you have to unweight both the rope (sling) and your draw, which considering that it’s severely overhung, is incredibly difficult. It took me probably close to 20 minutes, and lots of profanity, to clean this anchor. Not only unsafe, but extremely frustrating.

      Again, it would only take a small fee, maybe $1 from each person that stays at your resort, to create a fund that would allow you to properly equip all of the routes. It would be far better to equip your area optimally than to wait until something terrible happened.

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