Zoolander Bouldering Area
Khon Kaen Climbing Club (KKCC) has climbed at Nam Phong National Park since 2011. Sadly, Nam Phong area was closed down in 2017 due to access problems with the national park. So we have moved the venue to a new area call Zoolander located in Khon Kaen zoo.
The discover of Zoolander was is late 2017 when Wan (KKCC member) joined an annual meeting of Tourism Council of Khon Kaen to bring up the issue of climbing access at Nam Phong. We always work hard to ensure that climbing is recognized in tourism business in Khon Kaen as thousands of sandstone in this city can become a top bouldering destination of Asia and bring more tourists to the city. In that meeting, Wan was introduced to Mr. Thanachon Kensign, director of Khon Kaen zoo. While we were struggling fighting for access to Nam Phong, he said he has hundreds of boulders in the zoo properties and invited us to go explore their potentials. So we went to the zoo and we were amazed by potential of the area.
The zoo is home to wild animals, the rare breed conservation research center, and most importantly, hundreds of sandstone boulders with loads of potential. We have been working hard to develop Zoolander area since Nov 2017, cutting trail, putting up trail head signs, mapping all the climbable boulders, developing lines, maintaining the area, and publishing topo and area information online. We opened the area in Jan 2018, attracting hundreds of climbers from all over the world. With the help of local and visiting climbers, we now have a range of problems from V0 to V11, and the potential for much more. As of Aug 2018, we have listed 9 sub-sections, with about 500 boulders, and nearly a thousand lines. The zoo organization has officially authorized us to climbed meaning there will be no access problems. Climbers can climb and enjoy all the great amenities the zoo has to offer, including restrooms, restaurants, a campground, and a Water Park!
We know that concept of climbing as a sport is not familiar to Thai people, especially in the Northeastern area. We always work closely with zoo organization, Tourism Council of Khon Kaen, Ministry of Tourism and Sport (MOTS), Khon Kaen Tourism Business Association (KKTBA), Tourism Authority of Thailand (Khon Kaen branch), local TV media, and Khoa Suang Kwang district sheriff to make sure that the locals are well aware of climbing activities in the area. Most importantly, we communicate the message that climbing area attracts a new group of tourists that tend to stay longer, thus more income to the area. We educate zoo staff basic of climbing and English communication. We had a workshop about sustainability in tourism development with Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Khon Kaen University. We also brought young generation to help us develop the trail and then try climbing for free through our Trail Day project that was sponsored by Ministry of Tourism and Sport.
Climbers are always welcome at Zoolander, Khon Kaen Zoo. When you arrive at the front gate, you will be asked to pay an entry fee ฿150 directly to the zoo then sign a waiver form. Part of the fee will go to our climbing access fund to help us maintain the area. So far, we have many climbers climbed at Zoolander, ate at restaurants, swam at a Water Park, and stayed at a campground of the zoo. It is a well-developed area and truly is a one-stop service for climbers.We hope that Zoolander will soon become a climbing destination in Southeast Asia, offering a platform for meeting, learning and sharing climbing experiences and the outdoor activities.