Recently I had the pleasure of spending some time with three Australian dirtbags who I miss very much now that they're gone. We'll just call them Michael, Adam and Luke. Because those are their names. This is the story of doing a rather popular multi-pitch route on Ton Sai named "Big Wave" with two of those aforementioned scumbags. Although Adam has many talents, (including fire-twirling, convincing absolutely any woman he deems attractive that he is not the dirtbag we all know he is, and causing ceiling fans to burst into flames, thereby torching his passport) he will be the first to admit that climbing is not among them.
Over breakfast, we decided to do Big Wave in the afternoon. It's four pitches of 6a-6b climbing. Pretty breezy, and loads of fun. We had a late lunch and didn't get going until four o'clock, by which time Jean, the self-described "dirty French asshole" had joined us. Luke and Jean went up first, with Michael and I second. While being eaten alive by mosquitoes at the base of the climb, Michael and I wondered if we had, and further, if we should bring, our head torches. I decided to go and get mine, a decision we were very grateful for later on. The climbing went well. The first pitch is sharp and awful, but plenty of holds. (This pitch is shared with the 3-pitch beauty and the beast and is the reason for the line in the guidebook: "Climb the beast to get to the beauty.) The second was mostly uneventful, except for a sketchy traverse due to me climbing up the wrong side of a tufa. The third was incredible and fun, and the last one provided a singular moment in my year-long climbing career. As I was climbing the fourth pitch, I could see the top belay station, an ugly hanging belay that would be madly uncomfortable for one person, let alone four. Just as I was picturing my legs going to sleep in my harness, I realized that I could hear Jean and Luke's voices much closer than the top belay. As they came into view, I saw that they were sitting in a little cave, a belay station halfway up the fourth pitch for the purposes of shortening the rappels, laughing and smoking a joint. Climbing up to them, I got comfy on a jug with my right hand and smiled as they passed me the joint. I took a few hits, we laughed at the novelty, and I kept climbing. Just after clipping the chains, I felt a bite on my back, followed by giggling below me. I looked down to see that Luke had brought his bloody air gun up with him.
Cool Hand Luke. Sharpshooter of Big WAve.
Once I belayed Michael up to the hanging belay, (and he had been shot a few times from below) we took a few pictures to celebrate. It was getting a bit dark, so we wanted to hurry.
Me at the top.
Me and Tonks snapping victory in the dying light.
Once the photo shoot was finished, Michael and I rappeled down to the little cave and we all had a celebratory smoke together. Happy that we'd made it up. Confronted with an incredible view of the valley. Reluctant to start down. Finally, we tied the ropes together and started the first of two long rappels. (about 50M each). I was the last to go down, and by the time I started the first rappel, I needed to put on my headlamp. We did the last one in the dark, nervous, but safe with a headlamp at the top and the bottom. I was glad I got to be the guy with the headlamp, it was super cool to watch Michael and Luke descend into darkness. Once we were all on the ground, we checked a watch and found out it was 7:30. We headed straight for the bar, and that was that.
(above left) The last picture from the top.
(above right) Luke again, this time rappeling into the dark jungle.