Rock Climbing & Bouldering on Koh Tao
Rock Climbing and Bouldering are both physical activities which can provide an adrenaline rush that you will be hard pushed to find elsewhere.
Providing a great workout to go alongside the adrenaline rush, they can be a fantastic activity for improving both physical and mental health.
When you are debating whether to start rock climbing or bouldering, there are a number of factors that need to be considered.
- age and fitness level
- skill level
- training location
What is Rock Climbing?
The purpose of the activity is for climbers to traverse up different types of rock formation using climbing gear to prevent them from falling.
The gear, which includes harnesses, ropes, cords and webbing is carried in a pack which can weigh up to 12kg depending on where the climb is occurring.
As the climb ascends they have to ensure they are placing their equipment in the best way to support both their own weight and the weight of the pack.
The goal for climbers is to reach the summit of the rock formation, or a spot on the route that has been designated as the endpoint.
The climb can be made in two ways, sport climbing, where someone has already placed the bolts, or trad climbing on a “clean” rock, where the bolts are placed as the climb progresses.
Climbing on a clean rock is considered to provide a greater adrenaline rush as the climber often has to push past their limits to solve the issue of where to place the bolt.
Generally, climbers won’t “downclimb” as they will have spent a long time, and used a lot of energy, on the climb up.
What is Bouldering?
Bouldering is a form of rock climbing which is undertaken without any safety equipment.
Originating as a form of training for climbers to practice solving problems and building their endurance, it has progressed into a unique form of its own.
Bouldering is usually done wearing climbing shoes, to provide good footing, and a small back of chalk to enable good hand grips. The rock formation to be climbed is usually no higher than 20ft and the climber usually ascends alone.
The thrill in bouldering is generated by the satisfaction of solving the problem on how to get to the top of the rock, which is very dependent on the type of rock being climbed.
The climbs are generally shorter than with traditional rock climbing, but can be more tiring as you try to finish it in one stretch without resting.
Participants often have to “mantle up” to complete the climb, which can be scariest part of the climb as there is no anchor to clip onto.
Climbing & Bouldering for Fitness and Health
Both climbing and bouldering provide the same benefits to a healthy lifestyle helping to improve endurance, increasing strength and boosting the brain function of the climber by increasing their problem-solving ability.
The way they provide these benefits can differ depending on which activity they are participating in.
Rock climbing causes an elevation in the heart rate as well as an improvement in cardio-respiratory fitness. The climb is generally slow and steady which increases both muscular endurance and stamina.
The benefits to both endurance and stamina will be boosted as the difficulty of the climbing route is raised.
Pushing to the Limits
Whilst bouldering involves rocks which are closer to the ground and the climber completes a shorter route, the endurance will still increase as the body is pushed to its maximum to complete the climb as quickly as possible.
The strength levels in climbers and boulderers can differ significantly. Rock climbers develop lean muscle throughout their entire body. When they first begin climbing, they will feel it most in their arms, backs and shoulders.
As they progress and improve their skill level, they learn to use their legs more to push them up, reducing the reliance on the arms and balancing the strength levels throughout the body.
Boulderers on the other hand, tend to have leg muscles which are significantly stronger than their arms.
The movements they make are more powerful and dynamic than traditional rock climbers so, although they initially engage their upper body and strengthen it quickly, the more experienced participants tend to use their arms primarily to maintain their balance and body position.
They will keep their arms straight whenever possible and allow their bones to hold the weight rather than the muscles.
Choosing Bouldering or Rock Climbing
Both activities provide significant exercise for the brain as participants attempt to solve the puzzle of how to ascend to the top. The type of puzzle differs between the two though.
Rock climbers are provided with multiple solutions to their climb and need to learn to strategise well in order to complete their route.
The more challenging the climb, the more the brain is used. The problem facing the boulderer is usually shorter, but can be just as complex as the focus needs to be split between the solution and the movements they need to make to ensure they don’t fall.
The Benefits of Rock Climbing or Bouldering
In addition to the physical improvements to brain function, both climbing and bouldering can provide enhancements to the climber’s emotional state.
Overcoming the fear of heights and falling, which is a necessity for both activities, can help to build confidence and improve self-esteem, leading to a more positive outlook on life.
It is also suggested that both activities can help to reduce stress levels by allowing the participant to enter a state of flow. Simply stated, flow is total absorption in the activity being undertaken.
The participant shuts out all the stresses and anxieties of life to give them full control and focus on what they are doing, enabling them to reap the full benefits of the activity.
Koh Tao Rock Climbing and Bouldering
Koh Tao is a rock climbers or boulderers paradise with huge granite rock formations located around different parts of the island. If you are an enthusiast or a beginner, Koh Tao provides options to cater to your climbing needs.
You can find half day, full day or multi day courses based on your current level of experience.
On Koh Tao you can enjoy both of these activities whilst absorbing panoramic views hanging over crystal clear water or deep jungle excursions to find isolated granite rocks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Koh Tao good for Rock Climbing or Bouldering?
Koh Tao is a popular destination to learn and practice bouldering or rock climbing. There are bouldering locations that suit all levels from beginner to expert. The island offers adventurous sports climbing with some exciting jungle vistas and ocean views.
Can I book a rock climbing course on Koh Tao?
You can contact us and book before you arrive. We can answer your questions, assist with your planning and ensure everything is organized before you arrive on Koh Tao.
What type of rock climbing is available on Koh Tao?
Koh Tao offers a variety of challenging options for different skill levels of rock climbing. From bouldering in the jungle, to breathtaking oceanside trad routes and bouldering. There are also bolted climbs on the granite slabs of Mek’s mountain that include 18 sport routes, 14 top rope anchors with 20 routes.
How long do the climbing courses take to complete?
There are a number of climbing courses available on Koh Tao from a half day beginners discover rock climbing course, to a variety of 2 day courses. Extended courses focus on specific aspects of climbing such as top roping, anchors and techniques, sports leading and ropes rescue. For real climbing enthusiasts you can stay for a month and become a Rock Master.
How much do the rock climbing courses cost?
A half day discover rock climbing course starts from 2,200baht with most of the two day specialised courses costing between 5,600-6,400baht.