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Southeast Asia, Malaysia, Tioman Island, Dragon's Horns, First Ascent

Tioman Island, Dragon's Horns, first ascent. In late August 2000 Nick Tomlin and I spent eight days on Pulau Tioman, an island off the eastern coast of Malaysia, making the first ascent of the impressive Bukit Nekek Semekut, one of two peaks on the island's southern tip known collectively as the Dragon's Horns. Our route, Waking Dream (V 5.9 A2) climbs the prominent 1200-foot south face of the jungle spire, and required four nights on the wall in portaledges. To the best of our knowledge this was the first ascent of the mountain.

The 10-pitch line required the drilling of eight bolts (for belays) and 10 rivets, in addition to the bolts already in place on pitches 1-4 from our previous attempts (1996 and 1998). The rock is relatively good quality granite and our line follows the most obvious weakness on the face. We placed a handful of pins but the route will go clean very easily.

We endured one particularly terrifying lightning storm on the third night but other than that we had excellent weather. Pitch 5 was the crux, where Nick drilled five rivets to reach a thin crack, then used Aliens, hooks, micro nuts, and a very sketchy Tricam placement to lead us onto the lower-angled upper portion of the wall (pitches 3-5 are vertical to slightly overhanging). Pitches 7-10 were climbed in a summit push on the last day and involved mostly free climbing interspersed with some aid. Pitch 9 involved spectacular runout 5.9 face climbing on funky dimples and scoops in a water groove. Pitch 10 involved scampering up 5.5 friction and a bit of “jungle-neering.” The top was spectacular, a perfectly flat Bonzai garden with stupendous views of the ocean, the island's interior, and surrounding peaks. We stacked a cairn on the summit boulder and snapped some photos before rappelling to our portaledge at the top of pitch 7 for the night. The following day we continued to the ground.

Scotty Nelson