The Rockrats took their first trip to Jesselton, Penang in March 2003. We met Eugene, our gracious Penang host, during one of our weekend climbs at Damai. He showed us the sites, smells and food of Penang as well as another “non-conventional” climbing spot at Penang Hill.
Jesselton was a pretty interesting place for most of us because we had never climbed on granite before. Most of the rock faces in the Klang Valley were all limestone. In fact, Jesselton was our first experience climbing outside of the Klang Valley.
I particularly liked the style of climbing at Jesselton because it requires more balance rather than power. It’s a great training ground for footwork as was evident by the end of the day when most of us were complaining of sore legs rather than pumped arms.
During this trip we encountered our first “sandy slopers” (coined by Eugene). We also discovered that when climbing granite, you often can’t see the holds until you’ve passed them. I think Carol aptly described when she said: “all the holds are upsidedown!”
Penang Hill was another interesting climb in itself. A large boulder located at the top of a hill near the temple, it presents a rough face that will wear your rubber, test your balance and require some interesting crimping. Your concentration will also be tested when you’re being yelled at by passengers of the passing railway cars with commments like, “You’re going to die!”
The railway conductor was so fascinated with us that by the third passing, he had brought along his camera to take pictures of us climbing the boulder.
This was our first and only visit to climb the boulder at Penang Hill because we discovered a little later how unkind the rock surface was to Lelek’s rope. It was also a lot of effort just to climb one route and I didn’t think any of us were game to solo the boulder.