|GPS:||18.945, 102.446 Google Map · Climbing Area Map|
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|Shared By:||Ryan Kelly on Jan 13, 2010|
The main body of the country in the north is mountainous and perforated by limestone crags jutting out of the flat rice fields covering the valley floors. The rock is the same white limestone that youll find around the rest of this part of the continent; though you can find a variety of styles its predominantly single-pitch over-hanging sport climbing on tuffas and pockets. The biggest hindrance to the popularity climbing is the weather, which is a fair bit wetter than down south during the season (June Sept) and closes down a lot of areas. Fortunately theres a few established area that are climbable in the pouring rain, which makes it quite comfortable temperature-wise.
As of now (2009) there are two primary climbing areas developed, and a third that is located in a special zone that may or may not be accessible; even so, the red-tape and hassle involved with going there may be more than most are willing to put up with. Vang Vieng is the undisputed Mecca of Laos climbing and well ahead of Luang Prabang in the maturity of the climbing scene. Perhaps maturity is the wrong word, for although the climbing is far more developed in Vang Vieng, theres nothing mature about the place at all.
Dangers and Annoyances
If youve been traveling around S.E.A. youll surely note that the Lao are far more laid back than any of their neighbors. You wont have to deal with the hagglers of Thailand and Vietnam, nor the scam artists of Cambodia. However, the Lao have begun to work on grasping the concept of capitalism, and thus the prices have been skyrocketing as the tourism grows. I usually found that the price drops almost instantly to true market value with a firm stance; take the offer once its fair, dont belabor the issue trying to get another 20 cents knocked off. Ive witnessed this on more than one occasion and it comes off as very rude and insulting.
Be wary of the Lao Lao whisky.
On the plus side, Laos being the only land-locked country in South East Asia, you dont have to worry about the corroding SS bolts like in Thailand.
Accommodation, Supplies, and Climbing Needs
Supplies can be picked up at any market store scattered across the streets. ATMs are widely accessible, however see warning in Vang Vieng section.
Green Discovery is a corporate outdoors company and will gladly take herds of noobs to the local cliff and pull them up topropes for a modest fee. They have shops in Vientiane, Vang Vieng, and Luang Prabang. In Vang Vieng, where the bulk of the climbing is located, I recommend searching out Adams Rock Climbing School for supplies of a guide. Adam is a climber, not just a corporate top rope, and can set you up with whatever you need.
The Thailand Climbing Guide by Sam Lightner Jr also has a section in the back on Laos.
The best option is to just pick up a printed copy of the guide from Adam in Vang Vieng. The $5 you spend goes towards bolting.
Classic Climbing Routes at Laos
Days w Precip