Dairy Farm, Singapore 2003

Okay, I promised to write about the Rockrats’ trip to Dairy Farm and here it is – a little late, but better than never…

I’m not really sure if it’s still open to climbing, or if it still exists (2003 was a long time ago, although I did go back subsequently in 2004).  As far as I know, it should be there, but I suppose you can ask at any one of the rock climbing gyms in Singapore to find out more. 

As for how to get there, here’s a map, courtesy of our Singaporean climber friend, Ken:

Dairy Farm

And his directions on how to get there (which I still have up until now – I never could part with my old junk and guess it comes in handy after all…):

1. Take BKE and exit at Dairy Farm Road.
2. When you see Dairy Farm Estate to your right, look out for a small broken tarmac road with a barrier denying entrance to the road (red star on Dairy Farm map).

You can park there but don’t obstruct traffic. Alternatively there should be parking a few meters down just before the road junction to Upper Bukit Timah Road.

Dairy Farm is an abandoned granite quarry that has been converted to a leisure park where Singaporeans can take their pets, go for walks and ride their bikes surrounded by greenery as opposed to the urban concrete jungle that fills up most of the island.  Dairy Farm contains natural and sport routes, although there have been a few accidents which put off a lot of climbers.  It might be wise to note that a lot of what I write here was true back in 2003-2004, but it’s been 4 years plus so a lot might have changed since.

What I liked most about Dairy Farm was climbing on granite.  A lot of granite routes are pretty slabby – just the kind of wall to turn on a slab climber like me.

So what does Dairy Farm look like?  Here are some pictures from our trip…

After you pass the barrier, there is a short walk to the entrance to the quarry as shown in the two pictures below.

Dairy - Lai walking in

Dairy - Richard walking in

Dairy Farm is basically like a big field surrounded by rock cliffs.  They have bolted and natural routes which you can read about on Rockclimbing.com, but I believe one of the more popular natural routes was called, “The Nose”.  There was an accident on “The Nose” which I heard about a few years back and I think the accident made a lot of climbers wary of climbing at Dairy Farm.

Dairy Farm first view

By the time we arrived, the Singaporean climbers were already warmed up with lots of climbing action going on.  Below is the first wall we visited – it’s a close up of the wall you see in the picture above.

First wall

We set up belay at another wall near a crack climb and a route called “Mermaid” which I was later to get acquainted with.  Here’s Simian boy with a canine friend.

Sim - brunette

Ken took the lead with a rather featureless, slabby route (check out the crack climb on the wall beside him – it’s a natural route so we couldn’t try it since none of us had natural pro)…

Ken - salb

…while the rest of us watched with baited breath.

All watching

Then each of us took turns attempting this slabby route, with Holdbreaker leading the way (sort of looks like he broke off a feature from an already featureless face).

Adrian on slab

Adrian on slab2

Then it was Lelek Le Grunt’s turn.

Lelek on slab

Meanwhile, Thin Man leads a second route.

Mike on 5C

He gets conned into stepping on the tree by sneaky Simian Boy who convinces him it’s not really cheating only to tell him he’s lost his flash after his foot connects with the tree.

Mike climbing trees

Then I second it.

Shen 1st route

A Top-down view of the site we were climbing at:

Top down view

My attempt on Mermaid:

Shen on mermaid2

I liked Mermaid because it was a route that required grace more than power.  It was tricky but possible and with each attempt, I got further.

Shen on mermaid

Until I finally managed to clear the first part.

Shen - Mermaid

Thin Man tackled his first ever 6C route on top rope.  Only he and Fearless Leader had a chance to attempt this route.  Some climber was projecting this route because there was a piece of string threaded through the anchor that allowed us to put up a top rope without having to lead it.

Mike heel hook

Thin Man almost at the anchor.

Mike on 7

Fearless Leader on belay and me taking a break before my final crack at Mermaid.

Shen breather

Moo Moo having a chat with Simian Boy’s canine friend.

Brown-eyed gal

I located an entry I wrote about our little excursion to Dairy Farm that I completely forgot all about. 

Dairy Farm is a beautiful glade surrounded by climbable rock formations. It feels like entering a portal into a different realm from the concrete jungle city of Singapore. At the wall that we climbed, I felt rather reminiscent of the Australian outback. It was so picturesque, I felt content to never leave. I wished we could have stayed there longer to climb more of the sites.

There were two routes I wanted to lead, but the fear gripped my heart and stopped me in my tracks. I wondered why because I was not afraid the night before. I thought that by now it would be easier to climb with reckless abandon because there was no longer anything to hold me back. Patric wanted to solo a scramble to set the rope for us, but I felt distinctly uncomfortable watching him scale higher and higher without the proper gear. I was not sure why I felt protective because a part of me felt that it should have been me up there, instead of him. In the end it was Kenneth who set up the rope – climbing the conventional way. Even then I could feel my breathing stop when I watched him at the crux.

My first climb was set up by some Caucasians. I thought they might have been from Australia because I heard them talking about an Australian Math syllabus. The accent wasn’t Australian, but content of the discussion felt distinctly so. They threaded my rope through the anchor so I wouldn’t have to lead. The funny thing about granite is that the holds are difficult to see from the ground and the climb looked much harder than it felt. I think I could have led the route, but unfortunately, I lacked the mental for it.

I followed David up another route to the left, stopped short of the crux and bailed. It was a nice climb, but no guts and no glory for me. Just as well because I later went back to it on top rope and found myself peeling off the crux countless times. In all, this wall felt like it was created for me. It was the kind of climbing I liked – like “1st July Special” at Whitewall – a lot of footwork to supplement the fingers so my arms never feel pumped.

Some very loud cries drew me down to watch the Thin Man work a 6C route. Sitting on that rock, I could feel the serene energy of the vale pervade my very essence. Each breath I took revitalized me as energy seeping into every last inch of my body. I closed my eyes, focusing my mind, tried to send some of this renewed power surging within me to the Thin Man. Don’t know if it helped, because I went back up after to have a crack at the “Mermaid”.

I liked the “Mermaid”. It’s challenging because it requires balance rather than power. All the moves are within my physical ability to achieve rather than some crank move beyond my muscle capacity.

The Rockrats at Dairy Farm.

Rockrats

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