Matt and Joanne’s Page

November 19, 2008

Tioman Island

Filed under: Climbing, Malaysia, Roadtrip — Tags: , — Matt Stamplis @ 11:14 pm

After killing some time on Singapore (more on this later!) we took a trip to the tropical paradise of Tioman Island. We wanted to scope out the climbing on the island and take a stab at the imposing Dragon Horns. From the mainland we caught a ferry to the village of Genting. But we had to get to Mukut, on the south tip of the island, so we had to hire a boat (a bit costly – haggle!) to get there.

Mukut village, nestled between the ocean and the beautiful Nenek Sumukut (Dragon Horns).

We arrived towards the end of the “tourist season” so Mukut was devoid of tourists. In fact, the only other tourist was a Frenchman named Martin who had stayed in the village for 2 months: during this time, we were the only people who had stayed overnight! It seems to me that it might get lonely staying in a village where no one else speaks your language. Then again, Martin drank 20+ liters of wine in less than a month. So that’s one way to pass the time!

A closeup of the Dragon Horns. The left horn has been climbed only a few times. A local Malaysian is working on another route but for now, there’s only one established route, called Waking Dream. To get to the base requires a moderate 1 hour hike from the North End of the village. The trail is mostly obvious, and a guide is definitely not needed. You’ll know when you’re at the base of the route when you reach a nice little platform with a broken radio (dropped by someone on route?) and a huge boulder with a nice hand crack on it.

The first “pitch” is sketchy jungle thrashing to reach a big ledge at the base of the real climbing. Here’s Matt hanging out on this ledge.

It turns out we didn’t get too far on the route, though: I took the lead on this 2nd pitch and started working up it. I was mostly aid climbing and while moving slowly, I was starting to get into the rhythm when I was getting close to the top of the 2nd pitch. It was here that the crack system began to thin and I found it hard to get any gear in. A hook (which we forgot in KL -d’oh!) might have worked and though the moves looked fairly moderate, I just couldn’t work out a sequence. So instead, I fiddled in a tiny micronut and eased myself into the top step of my aiders. I started reaching up towards a good looking handhold and then *POP* I was flying. I gave out a short scream as the micronut below me caught my fall.

I got back up there and started playing around with gear for around an hour but I couldn’t make any progress. So I down aided (the micronut I fell on is now fixed) then we bailed from the route. So we hauled food and water for 3 days but we never even spent the night on the wall. Instead, we went snorkeling and enjoyed the beautiful beach and atmosphere. Not a bad trade off!

Bailing on the route: rapping through a jungle with a heavy pack sucks!

Getting ready to snorkel. The water here was probably 40 feet deep but amazingly clear. Neither of us had done much snorkeling before this but we really had a great time, seeing beautiful coral, schools of fish, and even a big sea turtle. If you’re lucky (well, maybe that’s not the right word) you’ll see blacktip reef sharks: we saw one just standing on the dock. Fortunately, they’re not dangerous!

The beach at the village of Juara is pretty hard to beat. Beautiful sand, great weather. This is my definition of tropical paradise.

When we got tired of the hot sun we came to this swimming hole to cool off. The water here was cool and incredibly refreshing.

Our last day on Tioman, enjoying breakfast with our buddy Martin. He was the only other tourist in Mukut!

This was one of my favorite places we visited in Malaysia. So much so that I have reservations of posting some of this on here. If too many people visited some of these small villages it would change the place dramatically. (Yes, I’m selfish!) So I’m already thinking about when I’ll be able to return. 2010 maybe?

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