Visitors come to Thailand for countless different reasons: The weather, the food, the beach, the culture, the wildlife… and for the rocks. Rock climbing has been developing throughout Thailand for the past 20 years. Whether it is in the south, with the amazing limestones over the crystal clear clear waters, in Railay Beach. Or in the north, especially in Chiang Mai, which provides a cooler weather and more quiet climbing experience.
Although relatively recent, compared to the southern part, climbing in Chiang Mai has emerged thanks to a small group of dedicated climbers from the Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures (CMRCA). After exploring the region, they found several gems hiding between the paddy fields and the bamboo forests. And a climber’s treasure: Crazy Horse Mountain.
Climbing Spots and Rocks in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai offers several climbing destinations. With Crazy Horse Mountain being the most popular one, while Chiang Dao is the most remote and authentic one.
Crazy Horse Mountain
At 40 kms north Chiang Mai, after taking a beautiful scenic drive, you will reach Mae On Valley. Where rock climbing started, in the northern part of Thailand. Crazy Horse Mountain, whose original name was Crazy Hot, is a collection of rocks with one of the largest boulders resembling a horse, hence the name.
Karisak Boonthip laid the first routes on Crazy Horse Mountain in 1998. Shortly after, Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures took over the development. Turning the handful of routes into over two hundred different climbs.
The surrounding area developed with the new demands of international climbers. Now offering shady bamboo huts and restaurants. The Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures Co. also installed a drinkable water system, with free water refill locations displayed directly on an app. The app’s name is REFILL and it is free to download.
The level of difficulty of climbs range from beginner to advanced. Each route providing a different experience. Crazy Horse offers 15 cliffs, with heights ranging from fifteen to ninety meters. The cliffs has a little bit of everything for climbers: from technical slabs to jamming cracks and multi-pitch roof adventures.
A short walk from the Crazy Horse will lead you to Aircon Wall. This has become a popular spot to climb during the hottest hours, as it is close to the mouth of a cave which provides shade and a nice breeze. Thus the name…
Most of the climbs here are short and steep with some sharp rocks in places. It is possible to combine Aircon Wall together with Crazy Horse Buttress.
North and South Archway
There is an archway to the far right of Crazy Horse Buttress. A four-meter climb into the archway leads to routes, on both the right and left side. The right-hand side is the Archway South and the left-hand side is the Archway North. The archway provides protection from the elements. Making it a “rain or shine” climbing spop.
If you are looking for a typical mountain climbing feel then The Furnace is a route for you. A short walk from the parking lot, the furnace faces south and therefore gets soaked in sun all day long. Thus its name… Furnace. This is a challenging climb, but a fun and rewarding one as well.
The Ant Hill
The Ant Hill is a collection of six routes on a thirty-meter overhanging limestone cliff. The routes actually fall in a monk’s backyard, giving the space an even more quiet and peaceful atmosphere. The area hosts a few colonies of ants, they are not aggressive, but often hungry. So better make sure that any food you carry is safely packed.
Anxiety State Crisis Cave
The Anxiety State Crisis Cave is very unique: an underground climb! Also known as Tham Wiung Fah, the massive cavern excites thrill seekers looking for something new. Proper equipment and some experience are needed for those who dare try this adventure.
Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventure first explored the cave in 2009. It took them 33 hours to reach the deepest part of the cave, at more 250 meters. In April 2015, they began the first guided tours of the cave.
One can access the cave from 2 different ways. The first way is from an entrance near the Aircon wall. The route is just inside the cave and offers insane exposure. The second option is to climb-up and enter from the top, descending 70 meters into the cave.
There are several different chambers and passages in the cave that carry you over slick boulders. At some places, rock climbers must scramble on hands and knees through the dark crevices of the cave.
The Chiang Dao National Park, located north of Chiang Mai, is home to the Doi Chiang Dao. One of the highest peaks on the Thai side of the Daen Lao Range. The Chiang Dao National park is popular for its secluded and beautiful summit and for bird watching. It is one of the most visited spots in Thailand for bird watching with over three hundred different species of birds. Another highlight of the area are the caves and hot springs .
A total of 25 routes provide climbing alternatives for everyone, from beginners to intermediate and even advanced climbers.