UPDATE (27/09/21): Other climbers have gone to the boulder and did their thing. Their experience can be found here. They’ve decided to call the boulder “Whitestone”, the English translation of Batu Puteh.
UPDATE: Since the report was written, we made new observations about the history of the boulder. Referring back at historical maps, we realised that the rock might possibly be Batu Puteh. No formal, historical documentation has been found so far, though we’ve been told the Changi Museum might tell of its history. There was also a village (Kampong Batu Puteh) named after it. The link to the post referenced by Urban Explorers of Singapore is here. Another site also claim that Batu Puteh referred to an outcrop further west. The jury’s still out, and it would be interesting to learn more about this bit of history.
We started looking for things to climb after Joel showed us a photo of walls behind Gali Batu. A few weeks after we went to check it out, Nathaniel saw a photo online which featured a sizeable rock outcrop rising out of the waters somewhere in Changi. He had initially thought this was “Loyang Rock”, also know as “Batu Puteh” or white rock, a historied landmark for locals and seafarers. Sharing the images he found, we were eager to go see for ourselves.
On Lunar New Year’s eve, four of us – Ryan, Chiew, Nathaniel and myself – decided to take a walk down Changi boardwalk from Changi Village. Past Changi Sailing Club, the boulder stood out against the coastline. We were lucky that day as the tides were low in the evening, so we were able to walk right up to the boulder. Persistent sunny weather in the past week also meant it was dry. The rock was solid; better than anything we had touched at Dairy Farm. It flared out from its base, which was covered in sharp barnacles. On the east face of the rock was a small corner that we thought made for interesting minor overhanging problems. The west face was slightly inclined. Potential holds, from jugs to crimps and pinches to slopers, littered the rock face.
The biggest problem was getting down. Unlike the boulders we often see, this boulder stood alone. There was no walk off option. We devised a plan that involved trad gear, ropes and rappelling. The idea was to build an anchor on the rock formations that sat opposite the boulder near the ground. We would then anchor a rope and toss it over the boulder. Whoever got up could then get onto the rope and rap off the other end. Intricate and possibly over-engineered, it seemed like the best bet.
Nathaniel read the tide tables and we found another low tide window on the evening of 25 February. It was perfect since it was also Nathaniel’s birthday. The first trip to the boulder involved two cars and four crash pads, as well as trad gear and rope for our plan to get down.
When we got there, we first put on the Mellow Climbing playlist, because, you know, priorities. Once the vibe was set, we laid out the pads and built our rope system for coming down. We found a perfect gap between two rocks that allowed us to build an anchor. The system would be backed up by one of us being tethered to the rope and giving a sitting belay. With all that set up, we started working on the possible problems we saw during the scouting trip.
After the first of us got up, we quickly realised that it was less sketchy to jump off from the southeast corner after a small down climb, onto the pads and into the arms of spotters than to rap off using our rope system. This meant the pads had to be moved every time someone sent something. A small price to pay.
That evening, “time and tide wait for no men” was anything but a corny cliché. As we took turns trying the problems and finding new ones, the tides crept in slowly and eventually started crashing against the rocky outcrop. We raced against time and tide, figuring out two boulder problems and spotted a few more. Mother nature had her way though, and we packed up around 6pm when the sea made it clear it was reclaiming the boulder. Happy with the day’s outcome, we went off to celebrate Nathaniel’s birthday. We were to return again weeks later.
It is a beautiful boulder set against the calming coast of Changi. The fact that we were not aware of past climbing records made the environment feel even more pristine; something unimaginable for people like us. Though it is a far cry from Fortaleza in Brazil, we take what we get.
Even after doing a bit of research, we are still unsure of the history of this particular rock outcrop. Up until 1975, topographical maps seemed to suggest that this was indeed Batu Puteh. However, maps from 1978 onwards no longer reflected this. On these maps, Batu Puteh was shifted westward toward Fairy Point. The 1993 map shifted it back, before it completely disappears from maps after 2008.
We can only guess that this boulder was not Batu Puteh. Batu Puteh, or “Loyang Rock” was indeed further west, according to a post by Urban Explorers of Singapore. The only certain information we found is that the boulder serves as landmark for anglers, since the area around the outcrop was a favoured fishing spot. We can confirm this via the few fishing hooks we found at the top of the boulder. We’ve heard from conservationists that the rock may perhaps be a seafarer’s landmark.
We are even less sure about its climbing history. Amongst us, we have informally called the boulder “Changi Boulder” (for obvious reasons), in lieu of a more pretentious name we had first wanted to call it by. We have also taken the liberty to name some of the problems we found and sent, for the fun of it. Nonetheless, it would be interesting to find out more about this coastal gem, so come to us (not for us) if, say, you “do before”. We just want to have fun.
Given the uncertainty about its history, anyone venturing to visit should know that they do so at their own risk. But the boulder doesn’t care, and it sits there regardless. So if anyone, like us, is feeling restless, just remember – low tides, three to four pads at least, and climb in long pants because the barnacles are no fun at all. Jump off at your own risk. Though this report provides some information about the problems we sent, the fun part is finding one for yourself! There is unfinished business, for us, clearly.
Map Coordinates: 1°23’32.5”N 103°58’36.2”E
Written By: Gawain Pek
The Changi bLoC pArTy was: