Matt and Joanne’s Page

November 24, 2008

Bukit Takun

Filed under: Climbing, Malaysia, Roadtrip — Tags: , — Matt Stamplis @ 11:28 am

OK, I can’t resist: One last post from our stay in Malaysia! The day before our flight back home we decided to go “check out” this climbing area near Kuala Lumpur, called Bukit Takun. It has some of the only trad routes near the city and we were looking to climb something (after our failures on Kinabalu and Tioman!). So we met up with a local climber (Zee) who had been there once before and got a ride with him to go see.

Bukit Takun! A pretty impressive looking wall. There are numerous short routes along its base but the only route that tops out goes up the bushy looking face on the right. The imposing center of the wall is unclimbed!

The approach is not bad but requires some diplomacy and possibly some animal handling: the wall is in the middle of a gated community and golf course. Fortunately, the guard was willing to let us through. The approach trail picks up at the end of the road, right in front of this huge house. So we parked down the road to be a bit discreet and then walked by the house. Of course, they have 3 dogs that start barking like mad (there goes our discreetness); fortunately, the biggest dog was behind a gate. But the other two were getting a little close for comfort so we kept moving and entered the jungle.

Immediately we were swarmed by hordes of mosquitoes! The approach to the wall took, at most, 10 minutes but in this time we each donated a sizable portion of blood. The good news is the mosquitoes seem to bite you and then leave. After five minutes of hanging out at the base of the wall we were left to ourselves. But we lit a few mosquito coils to make sure!

Joanne and I didn’t really know what to expect from the climbing here. We figured we would climb a few pitches then head home. But Zee suggested trying the 9-pitch route that goes to the top. We figured sure, why not? I think we were half expecting to make it halfway then bail so we brought a little less than 1 liter of water for all 3 of us. Hot sun beating down on us in the tropics, 95% humidity: how much water could we really need?

Zee taking the lead on pitch 2. This was one of the best pitches on the route. There’s a great looking roof crack above his head that might make a fun variation. We ended up doing a traverse to the right.

Following the traverse on pitch 2. You can see the golf course in the background.

The first 4 pitches of the route are bolted on interesting rock. Bukit Takun is mostly limestone but it’s growing over a base of what might be granite. So the first pitch appeared to be granitic and the second was on incredibly shaped limestone: pretty weird! These pitches were well-protected and mostly fun. But at the halfway point up the wall, the bolts disappear and the route changes character dramatically. It becomes what I think could affectionately be called “jungle-neering”: an insane vertical bushwhack on roots that are loosely attached to flaky limestone. The climbing was never hard but it was always sketchy and I frequently found myself 20 feet above my last piece testing my holds and holding my breath as I cautiously moved upwards.

Jungle madness! I think you can spot Zee if you look closely. At least the mosquitoes didn’t follow us up the wall.

So maybe now it’s time to mention our water supply. By the end of pitch 3 or 4 we had finished our water; mercifully, the wall had moved into the shade but we were still thirsty. At one point I lead 4 pitches in a row but was starting to wear out so I gave the last lead to Joanne who took us over the last stretch of dagger rock to the summit ridge. But now we needed to get down!

Someone spray-painted arrows in places to mark the way down. But even with these markings, several times we found ourselves standing on the edge of a cliff and were forced to backtrack to find the correct way. We were slowly running out of daylight so there was a sense of urgency but it was still slow-going. Note to self: bring shoes for the walk off! Finally, we could see the remains of the old military camp that was here and found the short rappel down to the ground. Our tongues like sandpaper, we stumbled through the jungle until we came across a stream. Coming right out of the rock we figured it was about as clean as we would find and we all drank and drank. Maybe a little too much, too fast! I also picked a leech off me before he could sink his nasty little fangs into my ankle.

We made it down safely before dark and managed to navigate past the dogs again. After rehydrating we stopped at a restaurant and had some beer and noodles. 12 hours with no food and minimal water will certainly build a healthy appetite! All in all, everything turned out great (except the color of my urine that night, but that’s a different story…yuck!).

Bukit Takun certainly gave us some good adventure: we felt great to finally succeed on SOMETHING in Malaysia. But to any future climbers, and especially the local Malaysian climbing community, I would recommend finding alternate access to this crag. If it ever becomes more popular you can be certain that homeowners will shut down the current access road. Perhaps a longer trail could be established that comes in from a different side: it might make climbing here more painful but it would be better than having it closed for good. Or if there’s any incredibly rich climbers, buy the house at the end of the road!


  1. […] Bukit Takun […]

    Pingback by Pussey Key - Excerpt from Joanne and Matt Stamplis - — December 1, 2008 @ 7:39 pm

  2. Some of the best pics of Malaysia on the web, thanks.. Boyfriend is from there and unfortunaly had to move back.. So thanks again. Also all you pics are great

    Comment by Cari — October 17, 2009 @ 4:25 pm

  3. what about the grade of the route mentioned in this post?

    Comment by Hazman — December 7, 2010 @ 11:07 pm

  4. I want to say one pitch which is bolted is a 5.10? The rest are moderate with route finding being tricky.

    Comment by joannestamplis — December 8, 2010 @ 6:18 am

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