Community Projects

Tonsai is our home and we are committed to preserve the unique beauty of this area, please read below and let us know your thoughts!

Community Projects and Thinking Green

Talk is easy, there are always so many people who know what should be done, but so few that do anything. Since we cannot solve the world’s problems, we try to tackle the ones right here in Tonsai…. rebolting and creating more awareness for nature conservation. Basecamp Tonsai has organised several community projects over the years that resulted in better equipped climbing routes:

JUST DO IT: Increase route safety for all climbers

Community Projects

We have opened many routes ourselves in Thailand and there is a continuous re-bolting effort going on. We will never ask for money donations, but we are making it possible for visiting climbers to donate bolts or rings to rebolters. We want to get something done over playing politics. We kicked off the ThaiTanium Project in 2008 and supported the second launch of the project by premiering the fundraising Thaitanium Movie from Josh Lyons. Josh and his team have managed to get over 400 bolts replaced in each and every season during the last three years. There is no community project in the climbing scene of Thailand that has seen so many individual contributors. This kind of crowd funding is amazing and gives us all a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Go on please!

Season 2012/2013 - Project ThaiTanium – successfully continued

This was the third season that Basecamp put all our support into the ThaiTanium project, by showing the movie to raise funds, by hosting slideshow about the rebolting process and by retailing the donation shirts. We can proudly look back on far over thousand climbers in total that have contributed to this cause and in February 2013 enabled the complete rebolting of Cat Wall.

Season 2011/2012 – Make more titanium bolts available

Back by popular demand, the t-shirt that puts your name on a titanium bolt. The titanium bolt fund drive continued in the second season and resulted in all routes on Eagle Wall going titanium!

January 2011 - Project ThaiTanium V2

Basecamp Tonsai premiered Josh Lyon’s move “Thaitanium Project” and continues to support this fundraiser as the team around Josh and Tom Cecil is very pragmatic about rebolting, placing priority on popular crags with high frequency of climbers as well as making bolts available to other experienced rebolters. Check the movie show times at Basecamp Tonsai during high season we show it every Saturday at 8.30pm and by request during low season. Every climber should watch this movie! During January and February 2011, climbers bought 200 copies of the DVD and enabled together with the bolts donated by the American Safe Climbing Association over 400 titanium bolts to be replaced. All the routes at Wild Kingdom, Monkey World and The Keep are now equipped with titanium bolts.

February 2010 – Retie The Knot @ Valentines

Thanks to the many climbers who replaced slings and anchor ropes and access ropes on various crags in Tonsai and Railey! Thanks also to those who donated their old ropes!

February 2009 - Beach Clean-up at Ko Poda

Beach Clean-up at Ko Poda Beach Clean-up at Ko Poda

The 15 road trippers from www.climbhotrock.com went to deep water solo with us and helped us to clear the small bay behind Ko Poda from garbage ... everything from those stupid styrofoam containers to baby diapers..

Thanks for the help!

And if you don't mind to lend a hand, check at Basecamp for the next Deep Water Solo Trip cum beach clean-up at Ko Poda.

Season 2008/2009 - Project ThaiTanium V1

Community Project 2009

Together with Tom Cecil, who in terms of new routes in Thailand is a high producer and as a rebolter not too vain to rebolt a nice line from someone else, we kicked off this project with the goal to make more Ushba Titanium bolts available for rebolting. We glued over 80 new bolts in in 2009, not able to get as many titanium bolts as we wished as due to the financial crises. Thanks to all for your great support.

February 2008 - Safer top-rope anchors

In terms of hours of top-roping, the anchors of One-Two-Three area must rank number one world-wide. Personally we don’t know any other climbing area where routes are climbed toprope by so many novice climbers for so many hours every day and this pretty much year round. You may wonder why at a time when so many hard routes display titanium bolts, the routes that have the most repetitions were still equipped with old bolts, well, so did we! In Febuary 2008 we organised that these anchors received a titanium bolt as back-up. A total of 10 anchors were backed-up and each equipped with a new set of ropes and anchor ring. Thanks to Justin Day and Saman for the drilling. Thanks to Thomas, Chris and Sarah for helping. Thanks to Tex Climbing Shop for recharging batteries. By the way, there are over 10 climbing schools in Railay and Ton Sai using the One-Two-Three and Muay Thai areas daily for their customers. We did not receive any support in financing this project, the value of all materials used was 10,000 THB, the time and help of friends joining us was invaluable.

February 2006 - Anchor Replacement Project

It was a strech but it worked: we tried the concept of “corporate sponsorship” successfully in Ton Sai. Several bungalow owners agreed tosponsor anchor rings to give something back to their customers! Most business owners in Tonsai have little knowledge about the specifics of climbing, however, those who agreed to support the anchor replacements wanted to show that they care about their customers of who the huge majority are climbers. These businesses in Tonsai (and one in Singapore) made donations:

  • Mambo Bungalows: 10 rings
  • ClimbAsia-Singapore: 10 rings
  • PaSook Resort: 5 rings
  • Dream Valley Resort: 5 rings
  • Egk and Tio‘s Coffee: 5 rings
  • Pyramid Coffee (Chai): 5 rings
  • Forest Resort: 3 rings
  • Freedom Bar: 3 rings
  • Green Valley Resort: 3 rings
  • Banyan Tree Resort: 2 rings
  • The Shop & Everything: 2 rings
  • Basecamp Tonsai / Wee’s Climbing School: 28 rings

Visiting Climbers donated 33 rings with the biggest donation coming from a group of Chinese climbers from Beijing. The goal was to replace 100 anchors, ring donations totalled 120 of which 100 were placed on the rock within 2 months!! Thanks again to everyone, also to those who volunteered their time to replace anchors!!! The remaining anchor rings were placed on new routes by Tom and his friends in 2006/2007, some made it on new routes on Koh Yao Noi.

2004 - Safer top-rope anchors

Basecamp Tonsai lead the first initiative to replace run-down knife-thin carabiners with anchor rings; at the time supported by some of the other schools we equipped all easy routes at One-Two-Three, Muay Thai and Diamond Cave with anchor rings, to increase safety on the routes that are the busiest top-roped routes every day.

Community Projects

A green vacation?

Unfortunately, it seems that most climbers are here for a few weeks vacation and set in a consumption mode, too busy to have the time of their life to think about nature conservation. Behaviour noone would consider cool at home, seems perfectly normal here. It’s almost a sport to lament the growing garbage hills in Ton Sai, while taking out food in styrofoam cups. However, there is no official garbage removal in Ton Sai, the vast majority of garbage is dumped somewhere and then burned. What more do you need to know to avoid all plastic and styrofoam? Who enjoys the stench of burning garbage? A plastic bag is gon eafter 20 years....styrofoam (yes the one you got your fried rice or mango sticky rice in) will be around FOREVER!

There is no need for ordering any drinks or food to go which in Thailand always means it comes packed in styrofoam. Refuse the plastic bag in the minimarts. Return the plastic water bottles as well as cans, both have a value and will be recycled. Beer out of a can tastes the same as out of a bottle. Thai breweries have so far been unable to establish a system to recover used beer bottles. All glass bottles end up in dumps. When you are not drinking beer, you will be drinking 3 to 4 litres of water every day, so buy your water in bulk. Bulk water is sold at ”The Shop & Everything” in Ton Sai not far from our school or ask at your bungalow reception.

All our Deep Water Soloing trips lunch is packed in stainless steel containers and water comes in 20l refillable bottles. When we carry beer or soft drinks, it’s cans only. A huge mountain of styrofoam, plastic and glass avoided on every trip!

Taking a snorkel trip? How much waste will the organizer produce for you? Lunch packed in styrofoam, then packed in plastic bags, plastic water bottles packed in plastic bags...at home everyone knows about responsible consumption, please help Ton Sai by insisting on environment-friendly service during your time here. The upside potential of local businesses learning better conservation behaviour through customer pressure is huge!

There is a unique bolting problem in Thailand
What you need to know -

Should the article below be too much info for you, just remember these points:

  • Get the new guidebook 2012, that clearly marks which routes can be climbed at the moment depending on their bolt status!
  • Never climb on expansion bolts!
  • If you want to climb as safe as possible, climb only on titanium bolts!
  • Any other kind of bolt, check first! If a potential bolt failure would not be caught by a sling below at sufficient height off the ground, don’t climb this route!
  • Not sure what all these bolts look like? Compare bolts with the pictures in the guidebook or come to look at actual examples of all bolts at Basecamp.
  • Watch the ‘Thaitanium Project”-DVD at Basecamp to learn more.
  • Update your guidebook with a list of newly rebolted routes for free at Basecamp.

The same forces that bring us gorgeously eroded rock to climb on also work against the bolts climbers depend on for their lives. The chemical process that corrodes all kinds of steel in Thai limestone in a speed unknown anywhere else took many years to understand. A combination of high temperatures, air humidity plus highly acid water from plant root which seeps through the rock from within can corrode a stainless steel expansion bolt in less than 3 months.

Expansion Bolt

A corroded bolt is not just simply a rusty bolt. Plenty of climbing crags around the world have rusty bolts and some very ugly ones are still holding lead fall regularly. However, in Thailand it is impossible to judge a bolt from the outer appearance as the bolt is corroded from within the rock. You do not need to actually fall on such a bolt, mere bodyweight is enough to cause bolt failure, which means just by sitting on a bolt you can break it! Never climb on expansion bolts!

Expansion Bolt

When the first climbing routes in Thailand were opened in the late 1980s, they were equipped with expansion bolts. It took almost 10 years to realize that these bolts failed at a very high speed not because of the quality of the steel but because of something special happening inside the rock. So route setters changed to glue-in bolts thinking that the glue will insulate the bolt from these corrosive forces. A good idea but it didn’t work as the first glue used was cement-based which allowed the water to seep through to the bolt resulting in these bolts failing as well. The idea was valid to some extent, though, as steel bolts glued in with Hilti RE-500, a resin expoxy that succeeds in insulating the bolt from the corrosive water, will last longer. However, these bolts also ultimately fail same all kinds of steel which creates a unique bolting problem in Thailand. The type of corrosion occurring here explains why you cannot judge a bolt by looking at it: the stress corrosion happens deep in the bolt material and produces a bolt that needs a very low load to break but the outside of the bolt can still look intact.

So the only chance to equip routes with bolts that can actually be trusted to hold a climbers fall for longer than a few months, was to look for a new kind of material. Information about a possible solution tried in a similar environment on Cayman Brac, part of the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean Sea. There, rock climbing had been developed beginning in 1992 and by the late 1990s the same bolting problem as in Thailand had been successfully tackled by placing titanium bolts. In 2005 the first titanium bolt was placed in Tonsai. Until today, there have been no signs of corrosion on any titanium bolt placed in Thailand. Since the first titanium bolts were glued using cement glue this is a very good sign as a similar placed steel bolt would show signs of corrosion by now. It seems safe to say a real solution has been found as titanium is a material that is known to scientist as having a significant higher corrosion resistance than any kind of steel.

To quote, Angele Sjong, chemist and metallurgist: “There is an enormous difference between these two materials, you cannot even compare the corrosion resistance of titanium to steel. The reason why titanium will work in Thailand is the temperatures, the type of limestone, the seawater, the humidity, the acid plant water, none of these corrosive factors will affect titanium at all. Using titanium will definitely solve the bolting problem in Thailand.”

Titanium bolts placed in Thailand come in two shapes; the best one is the Ushba Tortuga glue-in bolt, and the second choice is a titanium staple. Titanium bolts have a slightly grey colour but are to be preferred over a glue-in that may still look shiny but is glued with old (white or brown) glue. In addition to the high risk of erosion, old steel glue-in bolts have been pulled out by hand as the cement glue dries to the point of sand and just seems to disappear.

You may find all three generations of bolts described here next to each other on a popular route. Older bolts have not been removed on many rebolted routes as cleaning up these bolts can take longer than the drilling and gluing of the new bolts. Many climbers, especially first-time visitors, are not able to follow which bolt generation is currently safe to clip. This quite often leads to the absurd scenario of a climber clipping the old bolts next to the brand-new-and-expensive titanium bolts. The often sub-optimal placing of the new bolts also leads climbers to prefer the easier-to-reach old bolts. If you have a choice, ALWAYS clip bolts with red glue, don’t worry if the bolt looks grey next to a more shiny bolt!

Titanium Bolt

Why get involved

Titanium solves the bolting problem in Thailand! Yes, but…But what? Money, of course, the cost of placing a single titanium bolt is around 500 THB, an amount that in addition to the cost of the titanium bolt also considers the red Hilti glue needed.

This is where your donation comes in: Railay and Tonsai draw huge amount of climbing tourists from every country on this planet. The business in Tonsai have donated money for anchor rings in 2006 and the Thai Tourism Authority has made titanium bolts available in preparation for the Krabi Rock Climbing competitions in 2008 to 2010, however, the task of equipping all popular routes with titanium bolts is much too big and too expensive for the local economy. So over the years, climbers who came to enjoy the special magic of the Pra-nang peninsula have donated money for the cause of preserving this unique location for a safe climbing vacation. Please join! Every climber can make a difference, however, please use good judgement when donating cash. Over the years quite a few climbing shops have been collecting donations for their “rebolting funds” but the money was never made available. Making material available to those who actually have the experience, time and motivation needed to rebolt, has proven to be the only way to get results. So while I strongly urge all climbers to donate at least one bolt, before you take out your wallet, check if your money actually goes to the cause you intend. Donating money without transparency and accountability only results in disappointment. Therefore, all community projects that Basecamp Tonsai supports have clearly stated objectives and accounts open to the public. We currently make titanium bolts available through two projects:

1. via numbered “Enjoy Climbing” t-shirts to make more titanium bolts available for individuals rebolting and also for new routes. Donate one titanium bolt at Basecamp and get the t-shirt for free. A card with your name will be attched to your donated bolt. Beware of copies – Thailand is amazing at times ;)

2. via screening Josh Lyon’s movie “Thaitanium Project” to support the rebolting effort of the teams around Tom Cecil. More info under http://thaitaniumproject.com/