Patience is unfortunately not one of my virtues, so let me kill the suspense immediately… “Polish Princess” is probably the best route we have done so far in Tioman. It has everything you need for a fun adventure: a long approach in the jungle, an amazing view, good exposure… and, more importantly, some incredible climbing on an amazing rock. It cannot get any better than this!!!! It is trad climbing but you still feel well protected. Runout sections and route finding will deliver your daily fix of adrenaline and fear. You sometime have to be creative with your placements; each pitch has its own “one move wonder”. It is truly a 5 star route. Don’t be put off by the 7b grading of the first pitch or the 7a grading of the fourth pitch. You can always find a good protection, pull on gears or just bypass the difficulty using a variation.
“Polish Princess” should be your first ride on the Dragon. It is the fastest way to the top and a good 6b trad climber should succeed quite easily.
A bit of history:
“Polish Princess” (7b, 270m) was established in April 2011 by Eliza Kubarska and David Kaszlikowski from Poland. The year before, they had created their first route “Sam Sam” (7b max, 300m) on the South Tower. “Polish Princess” uses the beginning of “Sam Sam” and shares a common anchor with the Czech route “Muka” (pitch 3) but the route itself provides a direct line to the top from pitch 4 onward (along the pillar). David and Eliza fully equipped the route to facilitate future repeats. As of July 2015, the original bolts were still in good shape, not showing any external signs of corrosion. Nevertheless, we added some Titanium bolts at each anchors to preserve this sublime route. We did not modify anything else and the FAs have given us their consent to the new bolts.
Topo – Route Description:
Follow the Simukut Hill View trail until you reach around 50m before CP7. We marked the turn off using some yellow tape. Follow the faint trail left, then up through a bamboo grove, then slightly left again. Start at the base of the brown/red slabs with white roofs above, broken by two obvious cracks. (P1 takes the left hand crack). First bolt is obvious at the left hand side of a small ramp.
Go light and fast
- 1 x 70m 9.4 mm lead rope and 1 x 50m tag line (9mm static)
- Around 12 x quickdraws (mostly alpine draws)
- 1 set of BD C4 from #.5 to #4
- 1 set of BD X4 from #.1 to #.4 (Red, Yellow, Blue, Gray)
- 1 x CCH Alien black (not necessary but alien rocks)
- 1 x “magic” blue Totem cam (not necessary but this cam is our mascot)
- 1 set of nuts from #1 to #12 (DMM)
- Slings, locking biners and spare gates.
- 2 x cordelettes for anchors
- personal gear (harness, shoes, chalk, helmets, headlamps)
- 1 x first aid kit + sunblock
- 3L water per person + salt tablets
- Ultralight rain jacket
Going to Tioman for just a weekend is always an ambitious project. And you cannot expect anything else but an epic… this trip would be no exception, considering that we were going for a 270m trad line with the aim to re-bolt the anchors on the way up. As David was stating to some friends during our preparation, there are 5 preliminary cruxes to solve:
- Get to Mersing
- Get a room in Mersing
- Get ferry ticket to Genting
- Get water taxi to Mukut
- Get room in Mukut
Sounds not a big deal, right… Please share with us your wonderful journey. Beers are on us if you can leave Singapore by Friday evening, go to Mersing, sleep more than 6h and get to Mukut on Saturday before 10am… on the first try… we would also suggest to drive through the Woodlands checkpoint to exit Singapore 😉
As I was short on leaves, the plan was to get David one day earlier in Tioman. He would get a belay from one of the guy already on site, fix pitch 1 & 2 and drill the new Ti anchors. I would then join him on Saturday with Vladimir and, hopefully, the three of us would finish the climb and the bolting (1 person drills, 1 person belays, 1 person climbs). Bassel and Bethany, two of our friends in Singapore, were game to try “Damai Sentosa” and joined us on the trip.
Dave arrived late on the Friday morning after spending more than 3h at the Genting pier, waiting for a boat transfer to Mukut. He was greeted upon arrival by two american climbers, Lee Neale and Kate Sabo. This friendly couple had just repeated “Damai Sentosa” on the previous day. Lee generously offered a belay to Dave on “Polish Princess” and helped him on the drilling part. On my side, I was managing the logistic as David messaged me to buy more nozzles at Hitli, Iodine + antibiotics for Lee’s infection, 100+, milk and all sort of other supplies.
Thanks to David’s planning, the transfer to Mukut on Saturday was efficient. By 10.30am we were ready to hit the jungle and hike to the base. Despite beginning late on the previous day, he had managed with Lee to fix the first two pitches and drill the hole for the future Ti anchors. Nevertheless, the plan was to re-climb this part as it would have been faster than jumaring the fix lines. Then keep one climber per pitch so that the glue gun could circulate from anchors to anchors without letting the glue set into the nozzle.
Without spoiling the fun of each pitch, here is a short description of our journey.
Pitch 1 (45m 7b / 6b-A0)
Follow the slams into an easy fun corner following 3 bolts. Bear left into steeper ground past a thread, then crimp (7b) or pull on slings (A0). Two things to watch: rope drag (extend your pros or cut the 1st pitch in half) and the loose boulder before the first overhang (although it seemed still “solid”)
Pitch 2 (30m 6c / 6b-A0)
Spicy move off the belay to gain access around and above a small bulge. Watch the boulder 4m above the anchors, don’t pull/step hard on it. Then up until the next overhang and follow the rail left for an amazing move. Thanks Dave for telling me, while in the middle of the crux, to “mind” the huge Tarantula in the horizontal crack… As I freaked out, the advice for Vladimir changed to “there is a spider in a crack, be careful”… How sweet, hey… Watch the rope drag as well.
Pitch 3 (35m 6b)
David lead this pitch in no time. Some runouts, you have to be creative with pros. But easy ground and fun climbing on pockets, tiny edges, ripples and other dimples. Enjoy the amazing view. The route crosses the 2010 Czech line “Muka”. Horrible ground to haul the drill kit. That marked also the last time of the climb we were able to see something as dense clouds were settling over the horns. The visibility was oscillating between 5-10m. At least, we were not burning under the sun and preserving our water resources.
Pitch 4 (35m 6c+/7a)
Up on the slab until a bolt 4-5m above the belay. The route continues along the pillar on the right side of the edge. Somehow, we got a bit lost there, unsure where the pillar climb begins. At this point, don’t be fooled by “Sam Sam” anchors that you can see in the distance. We think that you have to go straight up a steep face immediately on the right side of the pillar. But you can also bypass this crux by following a rail for a few meter, up a first bulge (where you’ll see a dead tree), traverse left under a second bulge back into the crimpy face and then the pillar. That should clock around 6a/a+. David and Vladimir were drilling the Ti anchors in the meantime.
Pitch 5 (25m 6a)
Easy ground on a mix of steep/on angle rock. Not obvious to protect. By 7.30pm, the team and the drill kit were at the anchors, wondering what to do next… The initial plan was to start the abseil as soon as the sun goes down. Vladimir wanted to top out and stand on the “wart”, David wanted to climb pitch 6, I wanted to drill /glue 5 and then come down since I had slept only 3h the previous day. Well guess what… Turn the headlamps on and let’s rock’n roll. It was dark, we couldn’t see shit as the clouds were thickening but we were having fun… for the time being.
Pitch 6 (35m 6a+)
A.k.a. the epic…
Turned out that onsighting a 6a+ trad pitch by night, in the mist, was not really a formality. After almost 40m of climbing, David was not having fun anymore, to say the least…. He was now lost, running it out like crazy with a dodgy pro on his last placement… And there was nothing we could do about it. Still in the unknown, he was opening a new chapter on the horns with the first ascent of “Polish Sam”, a.k.a. “Samish Princess”, a.k.a. “The Samish Princess Muka Variation” 😉
By 9pm, after setting up a sling around a “more than questionable” hollow flake, he finally managed to abseil back to the anchors of pitch 5. Vlad and I were definitely relieved to see our good buddy back. Time to finish the drilling, cleaning, and gluing of pitch 5-4-3 and come back down…
Well, it turned out that abseiling at night, in the mist, was far from being a formality (bis repetita)… Be careful, it is very easy to miss the anchors as you always have to adjust your vertical descend by traversing left or right. Mind the communication as well and keep it simple as the echo makes everything more difficult to understand. Vladimir had a painful experience as he was rappelling from 2 to 1, overshooting the belay, ending up tangling in the void… Uncle Tam used some reflective tape to mark the anchors on “Damai Sentosa” and we thought it would have been a neat idea on PP. Back to Pitch 3, we ran out of glue, and, in the process of changing the cartridge, we broke the gun. As a consequence, we could only add one Ti bolt to the new rappel station instead of two (we also added a twisted SS316 bolt to the old anchor). There is an empty 14mm hole waiting for the next Ti bolt. By 4.30am, we finally reached Kampung Mukut. Just the time to have a beer and crash into bed… Dave !!!!!! Damn !!!!!! I said NO MORE 5am epic 😉
The next “morning” was relaxing as we were sorting out our gears in Simukut Hill’s garden. We talked to Lee Neale and Kate Sabo that were planning to jump on Polish Princess. By the time I’m writing this report, I’m happy to say that they made the first official repeat of the route. Good job guys !!!!!!!
For Dave, it was also an emotional time as this weekend marked his last trip to Tioman. He is set to leave Singapore and start a new adventure in the US. I really do hope that the community realize how much this man and his vision have contributed to Tioman, making this place a world class adventurous climbing area. Thanks buddy, without your dedication, the dragon’s horns would not have been the magical place it is right now.
As usual, thanks to the Dragon for letting us pass and coming down without trouble. Thanks to David K. and Eliza K. for their vision.