For all the climbing we have done over the last few years, we had never been to a crag that also had a huge cave system attached. Climbing outside, caving inside, sprinklings of Via Ferrata throughout…this big lump of rock in southern Cambodia was about to get thoroughly explored!
Our companions for the day were a wonderful family on holiday from Singapore. Their two wee boys had boundless enthusiasm throughout the day and were our fearless leaders on every part of the adventure. We met David, the owner of Climbodia, at the bottom of a 40m scramble and watched as the two youngsters leapt up the rocks. Once we were rigged up we joined them, the rock on our hands feeling mercifully cool despite the hot and humid conditions.
Once up on the cliff face our guides for the day led us round a section of Via Ferrata, a style of scrambling and climbing while clipped to metal chains and wires anchored in the rock. As we circumnavigated the crag, we could see out over the vast salt producing fields, our guides reeling off tales about rural life.
Arriving at a rather large hole in the ground, we were told we had reached our next challenge…a 30m abseil through a cave. Two options were available,the easy route (where your feet are always touching the wall) and the gnarly route (where you are just hanging from the rope in a dark void). Straight forward choice really. Dangling in the gloomy void, warped limestone rock formations looming in all directions, you could feel the hairs standing up on the back of your neck. Once we were all down on the ground, head torches attached and lit, we stepped in to the guts of the hill.
The sights that met us were truly gobsmacking. Cavernous ceilings littered with stalactites. Hollow tufas that could be played like bongos. Giant tree roots winding their way down from the foliage 30m above. Tiny crawl spaces branching off here and there in to the dark. We scrambled through from chamber to chamber, the adults becoming more and more childlike in our excitement (much to the actual children’s embarrassment).
After an hour or so of caving we slowly climbed our way back up the light and exited out in to the midday heat. A short walk brought us back round to the main crag again and now it was time for some climbing. With a variety of routes already set up by the staff, we all got stuck in. The natural overhang of the cliff gave some much appreciated shade, perfect for relaxing as others scaled great heights. We sat joking with our guides about the days adventures and learning more about each others backgrounds.
Eventually, our arms and fingers fatigued and we had to admit defeat. As we cycled away from the crag and back to town, we were still full of adrenaline and happiness. Shopkeepers laughed and smiled as we rode passed, singing at the top of our voices. BBQ, sunsets and ice cream finished off a perfect day. Thank you to David, Seyha, Heng and Song Tiu at Climbodia for such a wonderful adventure, as well as Scott, Vicki and the boys for being such great company.