Hello party people TaZ here writing loads of garble!! Haha Well after our first day climbing at the Crazy horse Buttress in wonderful Chiang Mai we retreated back to the comfort of our better than the first hotel we found, out of the moat area called Airport Residence 1. By the way if anyone ever has had the pleasure of driving on the streets of any major town in northern Thailand you’ll know exactly where I ‘am coming from. Driving in Chiang Mai is pretty dangerous overall, even in a car I would say its hell raising. We had set off back from the crag at about 5pm by this time its rush hour, because we were 35 km from the city its pretty nice on the roads apart from the countless insects that hit you hard in the face of your crappy viserless helmet you get when you rent a bike. As we approach the city lanes the traffic begins to build up and up and its literally chaos in any direction. No vehicle is prepared to let you maneuver into the lane you require because they are all in such a rush that they would rather run you over, then for them to take a split second to let you out (NOT FOR THE FAINT HEARTED). So after having many heart attacks and near missus en route home, I turn to Jemma and always say “well we live to climb another day”.
After a well deserved shower we headed off into town to scope out some fodder (Dinner) and a foot massage because my feet were in bits from my climbing shoes.
Found a little place just down the road from CMRCA (Chiang Mai rock climbing association) and I got myself a 30 min foot massage while Jemma got herself a Thai back massage, which from experience are pretty harsh. Both only cost 4 quid so can’t grumble. We took a dinner which was good and had a couple of beers, but soon headed back because we was physically tired. Sunday we was supposed to be up and Adam as we both said we will get to the crag early, now I’m an early bird but when I woke up I felt so tired that I knew there was no way I was ever gonna get Jemma out of bed so I got up about 10.30am and headed straight down to do our laundry in the hotels facilities. While waiting for that to finish I headed round to La moon cafe in the hotel to get an ice coffee. Whilst I was there I got talking to the Thai lad that owns it and found that he spoke really good english and that him and his mate had travelled around England before and had visited all the football clubs. In many Asian country’s they all love the premier league so it’s always a good conversation starter. Had a wicked ice coffee with him and really got to know a bit more about the young Thai physcy. By this point it was pushing 12pm so after completing my original task of the washing I headed back up to the room to see if Jemma was alive. Opened the door and she had just got up and was in a good mood so defiantly had enough sleep.
So after an unplanned rest day we decided that we will be up early to get to the crag in good time. We had breakfast and set off at about 9.30am. Literally had done about 4km from our hotel when I realized we needed fuel, so pulled into a garage filled the bike up and set off again to realize we had a god dam puncture on the rear wheel of the motorbike, quite lucky really because had we had been out in the sticks on the highway going towards the crag we would have been screwed. Luckily there was a repair shop across the road where we had broken down so we pushed it over and asked them if they could fix it. On looking at the tyre closely I notice that the tyre wall is split right through to the inner tube in several places on both sides, so I ask the garage to ring the hire company to tell them that it needs a new tyre? Which they rang them only for him to pass the phone over after 2mins of talking to them. So I pick up the phone and this Thai woman is on the other end, I tell her that this tyre needs changing as its UN road worthy to which she replies that the garage say its OK just to repair!
I’m shocked at this stage so then she says that I must pay for a new tyre as they only cover engine repairs/breakdowns! To which I reply I’m only renting the bike for 2 days so how is it that I must pay for a new tyre!?!? I then start telling her that its a joke and that they shouldn’t be renting bikes out that are UN road worthy, I said that I value my skin a whole lot more than her and that I’m not paying for a new tyre. I don’t mind paying for a puncture because a puncture is a puncture! I said that in the real world this tyre is dangerous and that she can give me my deposit back and come and collect the bike and I will rent one else where, I said if we have a blow out on that dodgy tyre when we are both on the bike with all our climbing gear with all the crazy drivers we are DEAD. So we headed back to the hotel to wait for them to collect it, the same guy turns up I told him, I’ve just put a full tank of fuel in and had to pay for the puncture so I want my full deposit back? Yeh what ever Tarren stop dreaming, I get charged for the 3rd day that we had it out of my deposit and he said sorry but the fuel is the fuel! So because of all this going on we lose another climbing day because its 1pm by the time we got rid of the bike. Oh yeah and the garage didn’t repair the bike properly because it was making an awful racket after they took the back apart to fix it! So after that we had to get bus into chaing Mai from our hotel to go and hire a decent bike, which we did so afterwards we headed to the Chinese embassy to collect our visas and went to the supermarket to get sandwich stuff to make some dinner for the next days climbing trip…
So it’s Tuesday 4th December and today nothing was gonna get in the way of climbing after the previous days events, funny because they say bad luck comes in 3’s. We set off to the crag early as this was gonna be our last day to be able to climb before we leave for Macau. We had delicious sandwiches for dinner and water etc.
We headed to the lower wall areas and started on a wall called Tamarind, Jemma starts on the very left at a climb called the chimney where it literally was, nice short warm up climb so we both completed that and moved on to the next climbs on that wall which Jemma ended up leading a very technical powerful climb called happy birthday I think it was a 6b+ she made it look a doddle and I was chuffed for her. Afterwards we moved on to the next wall again both did some relative easy climbs and afterwards I said that we need to find some tougher scarier climbs as they are the ones I enjoy most.
But who could have predicted what happened after that. So eventually we moved to the last section of wall called the Ant hill. I said that as we approached I wonder why no one was ever this far down climbing, but I looked at the walls and noticed that most of the climbing where graded a 6c and above. Now for all you non climbers out there any sort of sport climbing after the 6b mark is pretty hard to the average part-time climber or beginner. We start on the very left hand side climbing second one in I think, its was a 6c, now me and Jemma have got into a routine of she always climbs first as if in case she can’t do the climb all the way to the top then at least I can always finish it and retrieve the gear afterwards. So Jemma sets off on a grade that is sort of at her limit at the moment and she actually ascended it very confidently and comfortably.
Now the whole way along this section there are huge bee nests which are there for a couple of months every year at this time. We had got them confused for a wax bee which we had been told are harmless and not to worry, and because this whole area was full of these nests and lots of people have been climbing near them we thought that its fine. But actually these were proper bees that would attack if required to protect their nests etc from anyone. The wax bee was black which we saw and they just land on you collect some salty sweat and take it back to their ever extending tubes out of the walls. I thought these where flies as they didn’t look anything like a bee. So hence we thought after noticing these that yeh its fine, I included some pictures of these for you to look at.
Jemma leads up this 6c first which when she gets to the top about 23m up she is about 2.5 – 3mts away from a huge bee nest. she ties in and I descend her back down for me to lead it.
I then pull the rope back out tie in and set off on the same climb, I get to the top no probs and notice that there is a few things buzzing around but nothing out of the ordinary. You can see the nest is right next to you as you get onto the ledge to finish the climb.
I clean the route and we then move on to the next climb which is a little harder as its graded the 6c+ and its called the wasp factory! Jemma ties in and sets off, now the start was sketchy as its starts over a huge cave like hole in the face which is about 15ft deep and the first clip for protection is about 10 ft up so Jemma manages about 2 clips before she comes back down as her hands were sore and her head wasn’t feeling it. So I take over the climbing and set off up the wall, now this climb was about 26mt or so and pretty powerful and technical, the perfect climb in my book.
I’m really enjoying it and keep shouting back down to Jemma how good it is when I managed to get the last quick draw in before the top, it was only about 4 moves to top out when I look to my left and this bee hive is literally moving as one like a Mexican wave and I remember thinking “it was doing that before” but I thought well I’am not going anywhere near it and I was still about 2.5-3mt away still at this point and that it was OK all these other times we have been near them as they dont harm you anyway, You can see the bee nest here, to the left of of me, still above me though.
I reach up to clip my rope when suddenly the noise in my ears went deafening from the noise of the bees, now I thought sirens/emergency vehicles can be loud but this noise was something else. I literally remember seeing only black as the whole nest started to attack me 25mt up I literally flung myself off the wall in sheer terror and turned upside down in my harness as these bees where all over my neck, back of my head and left arm! Its was the brains reaction to turn upside down thinking they would get off me but how wrong was I. I was literally screaming like a girls and started shouting at Jem to let me down, when I think back to what happened I can only remember the pain of the stings as I could feel each one going it. So I was screaming FASTER! FASTER! for her to let me down she let me drop at full pelt and apparently I hit the rock at the bottom because she panicked when she saw the bees attacking me and I felt like I couldn’t get down fast enough.
On the ground they had followed me and there was that many bees I could undo the knot as they was all over me and my body and all over the knot of the rope I was attached to. And by this point even know all this happened so fast it felt like time slowed down some what and all I can remember thinking was that this was it because they have followed me down and where still stinging me and all I could think about was that film “My Girl” when he gets attacked and couldn’t get away and that you can’t cope with a lot of stings at anyone time. It might sound dramatic but I can assure you I was absolutely scarred as! More scarred than at any time in my 29 years on this earth. So managed to scoop as many of them off my neck and undo my knot when I started running through the jungle to get away, I still had my climbing shoes on and they kill me so the fact I ran 400 mt with Jem in my climbing shoes and didn’t realize i hadn’t taken them off was something. Its so surprising what the body does in them situations and how adrenaline can carry you through. Collapsed further up the path and took my shirt off, Jem had run up to get help from others that was there I all I can remember is Jemma saying “oh my god you wanna see the amount of bee stings stuck in your body” so she managed to get a first aid kit which had tweezers in and one by one started pulling them out. Everyone was pretty shocked when the saw my neck and back but at least I felt OK and it sort of felt like a lot of nettle stings! a lot! Most were in my hairline and neck.
Jemma went back with some others to retrieve all our stuff and bring it all back round to the main area as I was just sat there in shock, in the end we lost 7 quick-draws because when she went back the bees were still agitated and there was no way anyone was volunteering to go up there and get them. But hey at least I’m still here to climb another day and apart from my really bruised ulna bone and 40+ bee stings in my neck back and left arm I’am fine. That night I was feeling very weird (my body) I woke up and was physically shaking and felt freezing but Jemma said I was red hot and my tongue had swollen immensely and the next day when I got up I was that stiff and broken Jem said that we need to get you to the hospital as a precaution, so off we went and got a blood test and a urine test in Chaing Mai hospital and they come back fine apart from all the bee toxin in my blood from the stings. The doctor said that I was very lucky to not be allergic to them and that I need to take anti antihistamine for 7 days and after I should be back to my old self. So off we went to the airport to fly to Macau……..