Our website uses cookies. These are small text files which your web browser stores on your computer. Cookies are used to identify your computer to our server and store your website preferences. Cookies do not contain any personally identifying information.

Home > Blog > Jack Southan > Thailand: A wild ride on a crazy horse

Thailand: A wild ride on a crazy horse

Rock climbing ThailandImage: CMRCA

Jack Southan finds out just why climbers call the Crazy Horse Buttress the ‘Anxiety State Crisis’ cave


It’s 95 degrees, I’m blinded by sweat, and my fingers are bleeding. But I chalk up a hand anyway, reach over the lip and grasp onto what feels like a sturdy hold. I take a glance under my arm and see my brother far below, rope safely locked into his side. Necessary, but not required, I think to myself, full of confidence.

I pull myself up onto the rough rock ledge and hook a leg on for balance. I can see a dark object blurred in front of me, so I wipe my eyes clear of sweat, and my self-belief immediately dissipates as an enormous coil of diamond-patterned scales comes into focus.

The guide book reaction in such situations is, of course, to smoothly move oneself backwards. And this would usually be fine, except I’m hanging from a rock 75 feet up in the air — and am incapable of doing anything smoothly. My stomach gives a sudden, sickening lurch as, like a surprised toddler, I starfish my arms and legs and fall into nothingness. In the moments before the short sudden stop, I think, “So this is why climbers call this place the ‘Anxiety State Crisis’ cave.”

The Crazy Horse Buttress is nestled deep within the Mae On valley in northern Thailand, about 45 minutes’ ride outside of the northern capital Chiang Mai. It is an ochre, gold and black-streaked limestone outcrop famed for some of the best rock climbing in Asia.

We’d spent the morning out in The Junkyard, struggling up a route called the Song Of Stone, which involved almost no singing at all and had all but broken me. So we decided to explore around a bit, and ducked out of the burning sun and into this vast limestone cathedral.

With jagged, razor sharp walls and towering stalactites scattered around like Greek pillars, it really is a spectacular sight to behold. Great shafts of light streak down through the dusty air, pouring from the godly portal in the ceiling and illuminating the golden stone in shimmering pools on the floor.

But now I’m lying back in my harness, heart beating like a hammer, and it’s hard to take in the view anymore. I have my eyes fixed like a hawk on the ledge above, half waiting for some kind of hydra head to appear over the edge. Death from above.

After a few tense moments (and thankfully no deaths), I’m lowered back onto solid ground and mumble something about killer snakes as I fumble with my rope. “Cobra skin,” says Herbert the pro with a chuckle. “There’s Cobra skin on that shelf. Scary huh? Amazing climbers, snakes.”

I take a walk outside and stroll past a couple; the guy is hanging by his fingertips on to an impossibly smooth, bare piece of rock. “Looks tough,” I think, with just a hint of jealousy.

I hear a cry from inside the cave and almost simultaneously the man in front of me slips and drops off the wall, snapping onto his rope. Smiling to myself, I get the route guide out of my back pocket and leaf through until I come to the right page: “A wild ride on a Crazy Horse, 8a+”. I look up at the horse-head outcrop high above and think, “Yeah, I might leave this one for the snakes.”

Climb Crazy Horse with CMRCA Chiang Mai: www.thailandclimbing.com

Content Notice: Every care is taken in compiling the contents online and in print. However Worldwide Destination Guide and the publisher assume no responsibility for consequences resulting from the publication of, or use of, any of the information contained online/in print. While every care is taken in the accuracy of the information compiled, it is strongly advised the visitor/reader double checks all travel advice with the respective tourist boards/embassies/government offices before acting on any information.

If you would like to contact us with any concerns about any of the content on our website, report any inaccuracies or notify us of any copyright issues, please send us an email on editorial@aplmedia.co.uk with the url of the article or page and details of the issue. We will respond to any enquiries within 21 days and endeavour to correct any mistakes as soon as possible.

Worldwide Destination Guide is published by APL Media Limited, Unit 310, Highgate Studios, 53-79 Highgate Road, London NW5 1TL. aplmedia.co.uk

Editorial enquiries t: +44 (0)20 7253 9906 e: editorial@aplmedia.co.uk

Sales enquiries t: +44 (0)20 7253 9909 e: sales@aplmedia.co.uk

Company no: 3393234 VAT: 701391176. Registered Office: 30 City Road, London EC1Y 2AB Copyright 2012 APL Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.