Don’t Look Down: Learning to Rock Climb in Koh Tao

Don’t Look Down: Learning to Rock Climb in Koh Tao



I’m afraid of A LOT of things.





Deep water diving.


Commitment.  (Just kidding!)


The list goes on and on…

Yet, the one fear that I have that has been especially limiting is my fear of heights.

Do I want to jump off of that 40 foot cliff into the ocean? NOPE.

Skydive? NO WAY.

Bungee jump? FORGET ABOUT IT.

rock climb in koh tao

I’m aware that this is a very common fear and I feel some comfort in that, yet I feel that at the root of all fears is the fear of the scariest thing of all… DYING.

Not to get morbid or anything, but I am always convinced that I am going to die.

“This is it. This is how I go. Goodbye mom and dad.”

And yet, it has never happened. Obviously.

Knowing that most people only die once, I have tried to be more intentional about facing my fears and trying new things.

I figure that if I’m going to die it mine as be while doing something cool.

After all, being afraid that you are going to die is no way to live.

You can quote me on that.


I don’t know what force of nature or higher power compelled me to sign up for rock climbing, but I did.

I simply walked into Goodtime Adventures, filled out a form, and paid my deposit. Simple enough. They told me to be back at 10am the next day.

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I slept soundly that night. I think I was in denial.

Learning to Rock Climb in Koh Tao

rock climb in koh tao

rock climb in koh taoThe first half of the day was simply learning the ropes (pun intended).

We learned how to tie knots, belay for other climbers, what phrases to use, and, most important, how to be safe.

rock climb in koh tao

rock climb in koh tao
When choosing an instructor, make sure you get a cute one

Of course, we were only practicing on a flight of stairs at that point. I jokingly told the instructor, “Welp, that’s enough climbing for me.”

He wasn’t having it.

After lunch, we met up again and that’s when the nerves started kicking in. Good thing I hadn’t had curry for lunch.

After a bumpy taxi ride, we get to the mountain, and instantly I’m like NOPENOPENOPENOPENOPE.

I wasn’t alone in my feelings either, as one of the other girls straight up REFUSED to climb it. Maybe she was onto something…

rock climb in koh tao


We were told to free climb about ten feet up and to the left, hook up our safety and then our rope, and repel down.


I had NEVER repelled before.

I don’t think I had even climbed over ten feet before… and that was a gym climbing wall with colored rocks!

The instructor said I had to do it. He wasn’t messing around.

Defiantly I did it, mostly because I wanted to show him I wasn’t a little wimp.

I clung onto the wall for dear life and crawled slower than a sloth on a Sunday.

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I made it. I triple checked everything. I contemplated the safety standards of a small island in Southern Thailand. I wasn’t feeling especially confident.

But there was nowhere to go but down.

I repelled down…….

rock climb in koh tao

I came out of my mental blackout.

And we hadn’t even started yet.


Over the course of 4 hours, we were introduced to 6 different climbs. I attempted all of them. I completed 4 of them. On the other two, I made it half way.

And I felt like a goddamn mountain warrior goddess.

rock climb in koh tao

Maybe it was the “booty rap” that I insisted that they play on the iPhone. Maybe it was the fact that I had chugged two Coca Colas.

Or that I was just so naturally high on adrenaline that my body went into Super Climb Mode without me having a say in the matter.

But I LOVED it.

Absolutely loved it.

rock climb in koh taorock climb in koh tao



A few days later, I went climbing again and completed some more difficult climbs.

I was so proud of myself. (And I was able to gloat at the instructor)

rock climb in koh tao


And I was amazed.

Because on a whim I had decided to try something I was totally terrified of and in the process I found a new hobby that I hope to continue from now on.

I gave myself a mental pat on the back.

rock climb in koh tao

I felt good to not die. #fearconquered?

Who knows, maybe in a year from now I will be jumping out of an airplane.


A little tip though…


it really helps to not look down.

rock climb in koh tao


17 thoughts on “Don’t Look Down: Learning to Rock Climb in Koh Tao

  1. This. Is. Amazing! I went canyoning in Switzerland and the very thing we had to do was rappel down (what felt like) a huge rock wall. I couldn’t even stand up to start rappeling hahaha. So scary. Good for you for conquering your fears!

  2. I had a blast reading this! It brought back memories of convincing myself to go bungy jumping, especially the ‘NOPENOPENOPE’ thoughts while I was walking up the stairs!

    Glad you enjoyed it it the end – great job, gal!

  3. woo! I’m glad you finally enjoyed it. I’m a climber and I’m afraid plenty of times of my next movement, but then… you just can do it by yourself and, then, the feeling of self-overcoming is awesome! Keep climbing!!! 😀

  4. Cute post! I’m not sure if I would have done it or not. It must have been incredibly hot when you were climbing no? No problems holding on to the ropes and rocks from sweaty palms?

    1. It was actually pretty hot out, but I’m not super prone to having sweaty hands so that wasn’t a problem for me. It may be for other people, but we were provided with chalk to compensate for that. It was super important to stay hydrated and brings snacks though- it is much harder than it looks! My entire body was sore for two days afterward!

  5. Hahah I love how raw your are with your writing… Really refreshing! Well good on ya for doing it! I’m sure the more things you do out of your comfort zone, the more you’ll be saying ‘yes’ to other adventures 😉

    Super glad you found something you really enjoyed and are going to continue doing it as a hobby!

  6. Ah yay! How awesome to finally get to the top though! Also i have so many similar fears to you … moths are the absolute worst haha also i manage to convince myself on a weekly basis that my time is going to be up soon haha the brain is a funny thing! Congrats on your achievement though 🙂

  7. So cool! I’ve only tried abseiling once (never climbing!) in my teens. But your post has me wondering if I might actually enjoy it given another chance…

  8. So cool! It’s such a wonderful feeling to not only conquer a fear, but to end up enjoying the very thing you feared! You must’ve had such a great adrenaline rush!

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