1011Catba Day 3

Cat Ba, Vietnam

November 30, 2010

      Our second day of DWS is over. Boat Lunch

With the tide charts against us, we had to spontaneously arrange everything

the night before we went out. Tides indicated an early start would work more in our favor and best if we could overnight it on the boat for the next two

days. Unfortunately, because plans came together late, we couldn’t get organized in time to make it happen like that. Instead, we were lucky to get a boat

that would be ready for us first thing in the morning. To appease the boat crew and smooth over our lack of planning, we brought the boat crew beer. By the end

of our first DWS day, they deserved it!

      Heading out to Ha Long Bay takes forever, or at least it seems so. Traveling in a large group, it’s hard to

to get everyone organized and ready on time. Then, to get to the harbour, we needed a hired car. The drive is only 5 minutes, but you don’t want to walk it and

taking a scooter seemed pointless for a group. The drivers meet you out front of Slo Pony Adventures. All arrangements for the car, boat, kayaks, etc. are made through Slo Pony, including the

payment for the car, boat, etc.

      Since it takes anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half to get to any of the climbs, the first thing I

do on the boat is scope out an area to sleep. We settle in and are pleased that we have the boat to ourselves. It’s more common to get on a list and go out

on boats that already have people lined up for them. It makes the boat more affordable and you get to meet other people. So far, each time we’ve gone out on a

boat, we’ve had it only for ourselves. When you get this, you get full control of where you go and how much time you spend there. For us, we wanted to start

our DWS trip with Turtle Cave. After a few hours rest, we arrive.

      Turtle cave is brilliant. The dome inside is spectacularly large with prominent views of the exposed, tufa lined

lip. This is the line Simon wants to capture. Lee is up to explore the line, first, followed by Monique. The largest hanging tufa is nearly center on the lip

and hangs high above the water. I’m petrified and knowing my water skills, I opt out of an attempt, myself.

      Our boat crews were awesome. Boat Crew

The basket boat driver, not understanding English, managed to maneuver the boat

and keep up with our demands for the entire time we were out there. Similarly did our boat crew on the big boat. Although we were demanding, I hope we came

off as very thankful. They appeared to enjoy our successes even though they clearly did not understand why we were going through so much trouble.

      Before heading back to shore, we stopped off at Tiger Wall, again. Tiger Wall

Some of us had the opportunity to get in a quick pitch. It can be hard being out on the boat all day with little movement and even less climbing.

      The following day we had the same routine, but this time, with gear sorted the night before and everyone

a little more prepared for the early start, we got off nearly on time. This gave us plenty of time out on the water before the tides receeded too much making DWS

a bit more dangerous. There are clams at the bottom that will slice through your boot should you fall too deep. That and the starting holds get harder to reach

from the basket boat.

      This day we set off for Fishermans Tunnel and the Unemployment Wall (where the diving board is located). Everyone

got out and had good fun on one of the nicest, exposed, lines on the wall. I set about getting on a line in the middle of the wall hoping to distract myself with

harder climbing so I wouldn’t focus on the water below. Temps were good, the rock was sharp, but the line was nice. I climbed up and up and then couldn’t climb

any higher. It was possible to keep climbing, but my body just refused to go anywhere. I hung out for awhile fussing with some holds while my supportive boat crew

encouraged me higher. I still could not move up any further. Finally, I downclimbed to the start and had the boat pick me up. Lame, I know.

      At the next wall, the climbs weren’t too high, and the features were beckoning. The diving board was appropriately

named and Lee took to it in no time. Monique, who had been sitting with Coco during the previous wall adventure, was now gunning to climb. She scrambled up to the

diving board and was soon hanging from it, hugging it, upside down on it until she finally dropped to the water below. Inspiring! And, yes, I was so inspired

that I followed on after her. Up to the diving board I climbed but when I started the maneuver out onto the board, I just couldn’t commit to the move. Of course

I could do the move, I even worried that I could do the move. I was worried because once you are out on the diving board, the only way back in, was from the water. *Gulp*.

     I tried this maneuver several times and finally, with my breathing rapid and shallow (I couldn’t feel my heart at all), I climbed back down to the start. I knew I was going

into the water, it was just a matter of time or nerve. Every time I thought to jump into the water from any point, I froze. I could not imagine letting go. Those of you

that are familiar with my water phobia get what I’m talking about. I wished I wasn’t such a softie and could just suck it up and jump in. With forearms starting to burn,

the rock chaffing my hands and my foot holds disappearing the further down I went, I knew I had to commit. Hanging from one arm, one foot perched on a precarious hold

that I was sure would spit off any second, I waited. Worried that the burn in my forearms would hinder my ability to swim, I knew I couldn’t push the pump. I had to jump

in and I had to do it soon. The basket boat had come nearer, which I was thankful for, and once again, my ever encouraging Aussie team cheered (or egged) me on. *oh god, why

do i do this* and then *splash*! I’m in the water. I’d let go. My breathing was still not under control and no matter how I tried I could not relax. Back in the boat, I was

relieved to have done it. I looked over at Saigon Wall and longed for the day we will climb on it, without falling into the water.

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About Audrey Sniezek

Audrey Sniezek is a rock climber, climbing coach, computer software/technology enthusiast and occasional baker/cook and wine connoisseur.
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