Bako is a beautiful National Park with spectacular sandstone formations at some of the beaches. Climbing here is a unique experience very different from the lime stone areas in Sarawak. All climbs are equipped with long shaft titanium glue-in bolts. The sandstone is soft and should only be climbed when dry.
Many climbers have looked at these cliffs and wondered if rock climbing was possible. Bouldering was reported as early as the 1999 by the Batman Wall development group and local climbers since then. Route development started in 2013.
The park is operated by Sarawak Forestry Corporation, which presently does not allow rock climbing due to lack of mountain rescue service. Contact Alex 012-8137303 for a case-by-case agreement with the park management for a climbing trip. If you attempt a multi-pitch route make sure you know what you are doing – you and your partner must be able to get yourself out of any trouble you get yourself into. (see the note at Galactic Cliff at Bukit Takun). If you make the news the area may be closed for rock climbing!
How to Get Here
The park is a major tourist attraction so you can either drive to Kampung Bako or take a tour bus. At the main jetty you need to register your party, pay the park fee and buy a boat ticket.
Early and late boats (going out before 8am and returning after 4pm) can be arranged (011-25132711). You may also stay overnight at the park, anything from a camp site to air conditioned rooms is available: booking.
Natural Conditions: Sun, Tides, Rain & Wildlife
You need to prepare well. Sun Information is given for each sector. Tides also have to be considered as the base of most cliffs gets wet at high tide. Check the tides for Pulau Lakei. The sandstone is soft and should only be climbed when dry. For precipitation history use the Telok Assam station. The dryer season (June-August) is your safest bet but it can be dry enough throughout the year. During the monsoon season (December-February) it generally rains too much and boats may not even go out due to high waves. Sand flies are worse than mosquitos. Use a good insect repellant as these little devils can ruin your experience. Bites are felt only after a few days but the itch can last weeks. Don’t leave your gear unattended as Bako is also famous for its wildlife – there are three species of monkeys and wild boar, all of which are known to have taken or torn equipment.
All climbs are equipped with long shaft (250mm) titanium (Ti) glue-in bolts. Long because the rock is soft and Ti is the only known material strong enough and not susceptible to stress corrosion, which is becoming a problem at seaside climbing areas throughout the world. Talk to Alex if you are interested in bolting. Abseil points use slings and Ti rings. Be so kind and bring some slings along and help with sling replacement – 1m pieces of retired rope work well.
Sector and Route Description
All the routes are numbered and listed from left to right.
This Beach is were park HQ and all the facilities are located. During the boat ride you get a good look at the cliffs. From HQ the impressive Assam Tower East Face is clearly noticeable. At low tide you can walk around to the other sectors.
GPS Coordinates: 1°42’57.51″N, 110°26’31.45″E
Climbing 40m high Assam Tower has some real mountaineering feel as you can climb to the top and Abseil down. You may even have to jump over a crevice which is common in the Elbsandstein climbing in Germany where they grade the jumps from S1 (easy) to S4 (crazy hard and you will probably end up at the hospital). Make sure you know were to find the Abseil Points as it may not be possible to abseil down the route conveniently especially for the easier climbs such as Sandstone Wonderland.
– Assam Tower East Face
This 40m wall is hard to miss . It is in the shade after 2:30pm around June and after 1pm around December. The base is dry at tide levels of 3.8m or below.
|①||East Face||6c+||Alexander Hölke, Oct. 2018|
|②||Neurosurgery||6b+||25||9||Alexander Hölke, Sept. 2015|
– Assam Tower West Side
These climbs are in the shade in the morning until 10am.
|| FIRST ASCENT
|①||West Side Story||6b+||30||10||Alexander Hölke, Sept. 2016|
||5b||15||3||Alexander Hölke, April 2016|
|③||Sandstone Wonderland||6a S1|
|–||Pitch 1||5c||20||7||Damien Su, Sept. 2014|
|–||Pitch 2||5a||20||6||Soh Hian Lim, June 2015|
|–||Pitch 3||6a S1||20||2||Noh Muhammad, Aug. 2013|
|④||Read Heat||6b S1||–|
|–||Pitch 1||6b||20||8||Alexander Hölke, June 2015|
|–||Pitch 2,3 as ③||6a S1||–|
|⑤||Access Route||A0 6a S1||–|
|–||Pitch 1||A0 6a||10||4||Noh Muhammad, Aug. 2013|
|–||Pitch 2 as ③||6a S1||20||2|
|⑥||Early Wakeup Call||6b||20||8||Noh Muhammad, Sept. 2014|
GPS Coordinates: 1°42’57.6″N, 110°26’29.9″E
This large boulder has two short routes suitable for beginners. It is facing east but gets some shade in the morning from Assam Tower and it is in the shade in the afternoon after 2pm. The base is dry at tide levels of 3.2m or lower.
|①||Wild Boar||5b||10||3||Alexander Hölke, Aug. 2015|
|①||The Wale’s Lips||5b||10||3||Mohd Syawalluddin, Oct. 2018|
GPS Coordinates: 1°42’56.3″N, 110°26’26.2″E
This single pitch sports climbing wall is under development. It is facing north-east, and unfortunately this means it it is in the sun for most of the day during the April-August dry season and can only be climbed in the very early morning hours. From September till March it is in the shade after 2pm, with your best chance in September and October when the wet season has not kicked in yet. There is a rocky base which is great to keep your rope away from sand, but it tends to be flooded during high-tide so there can be puddles. The tide needs to be at 3.2m or lower to keep your feet dry.
|①||An Intertidal Affair||6a+||30||13||Pearl Ee, January 2017|