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MARCH 2018: Canadian International School (Group 1), Singapore

Caving and Climbing

Located just over an hour’s drive from Traidhos, Crazy Horse Buttress features on most “Top Climbing Sites in Asia” lists and is home to thirty-five caves.

CIS Group 1 were our first guests to enjoy a new, two-day caving and climbing combo there, courtesy of our friends at CMRCA, who are responsible for transforming Crazy Horse into the climbing hotspot that it has become through their professional yet fun attitude to their work.

VSP staff Martin recounts his experience with CIS here:

The group were highly excited to be going and also a little apprehensive. We travelled there in a procession of songthaews, which have space for about ten kids in each vehicle. We played games on the way and this seemed to calm any doubts they were having and also put the group in a good mood. When we arrived at Crazy Horse we all made a huge circle and the staff introduced themselves and we played some icebreakers.

After we divided into two, my group started off by descending into the depths of one of the biggest caves. Before entering the cave we were told that over 300 million years ago we would have been sat at the bottom of the sea in a coral reef that stretched all the way from China to Indonesia. As the coral died and the sea slowly dried up then land mass was formed and the corals turned into limestone. Stunning caverns were then formed and hundreds of kilometers of caves where made. We were also asked if we thought anything still lived in the caves. Some of my group said snakes and maybe bats. Our guides said that yes, there were bats in the caves but no snakes.

So away we went to explore the depths of the caverns. We first abseiled down a small drop and then traversed over a boulder playground. We had so much fun doing this and I could see by the students’ faces how much they enjoyed it! One of the girls said she had never done anything like this and felt like she was in an action movie!

After a short break we then did another abseil down into a deeper part of the cave, where we were told to have a look around. Some of the girls found a glistening rock and asked me what it was. I explained to them that this was flowstone and was formed by tiny droplets of water that came from the rain and passed through the ground, picking up minerals and calcite, and then dropping from the roof and building up layers upon layers rock. I ran some water over the top so they could see why it was called flowstone.

Our guides then arrived after us and we walked further into the heart of the cave. The guides pointed out stalactites along the way and explained to the group what they were. CIS were so fascinated by the things they saw and couldn’t get over how big the cave was! They said to me that they thought all caves were small, dark spaces but this was like being in a different world. We then reached the heart of the cave and the group was asked to turn off their headlights and listen to what they could hear. We listened and there was a noise that sounded like running water. However, the guides explained the noise we had heard was actually bats moving because we had disturbed them.

We then ascended back up to a little ledge, where we all sat down and had some lunch together. We ate our lunch and were told the next part would be climbing and ascending back up the cave. The group had thought that we were going to simply walk out of the cave but how wrong they were! As we climbed back to we had entered the cave we saw some more guides, who told us all that we were going to do a Tyrolean traverse across the cave and then a 50m abseil. The team where so excited and I felt at this point as we had more light it would be a great time to get some more pictures. As you can see in their faces my team where prepared for every challenge thrown at them! After all this, we ascended into the bottom of another cave system and all walked out together feeling a great sense of achievement.

On the second day the groups swapped around. We were ready for the challenge even though some of us had never been climbing before. Some of the group said they weren’t sure what to do and we told them it would be ok as we would teach them and also that nobody would be asked to do anything they didn’t want to. I told them to think back to yesterday morning and whether they would have thought that they could do everything that they had ended up achieving in the end. This settled them and we walked to our climbing area, where several routes had be set.

I gave a bit of tutoring before the guides got everybody into their harnesses and helmets. There were six routes set up and the team was told which the easiest ones were. As soon as we started climbing there was no stopping us! All the girls managed several climbs each and we achieved every single one of the routes. We then stopped for some lunch and went up to the top of the mountain in the afternoon for the grand finale: a 70m rappel into a cave. Every single one of my group completed this and their smiles were beaming from ear to ear. One of my group members told me that this was the best school trip she had ever been on and thanked me for all my support. This was thoroughly a great start to an amazing week!

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