Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rock Climbing in YangShuo, China
Beta for Multi-pitch Routes

When I first arrived in Yangshuo I was prepared for a month of limestone sport climbing. I readied myself for pocket pulling and tufa pinching up steep white and orange walls. Once I began to roam the towers and delve into Yangshuo Rock Climbs I reliezed there may be a slightly more elusive Yangshuo climbing scene. I made a point to climb as many multi-pitch routes up these impressive limtesone towers as I could fit into my trip. What I found was a collection of jungle adventures into beautifully unexecpted places with endless panoramic views of a magical land. There was also no shortness of crumbling rock, unequipped anchors, vine pulling, razor blades, hailing buses in the dark, rockfall, rusty mallions, and an ocassional snake. In otherwords: sweet!
Climbers Beta
(note: vocabulary may be a bit tedious for the non-climber friends and family)

There are a lot of fresh bolts in Yangshuo and thus the climbing is fairly safe (some older routes do have some rusty bolts). Many rappell anchors need to be backed-up or rebuilt. Bring lots of webbing and rap rings. Next time I will bring many rapid-links and chains as most rap anchors could use some permanent equipment (this is also true even for some of the single pitch sport climbs). The rock here is both sharp and loose. Climbing here without a helmet would be foolish. Almost every route can be decended via the ascent line with one 60 meter rope. I found the topos in Paul Collis' book to be well-drawn and consistent. Lastly, it should be noted that the amount of rock here makes the possibility of putting up more routes comparable to these completely unlimited. Hundreds, if not thousands of unnamed, unclimbed, unexplored towers rise from the rice fields and river flats in all directions. Climbers seeking limestone walls of adventure need to look no further.

The Routes
  • Thumb Peak - Happy New Year (5.10b,5 pitches)
    This is the first and definently the cleanest multi-pitch line I did here. Climbing in great, bolts are frequent, the top anchor was looking pretty hangered 'til we beefed it up. Bring lots of draws to link the 3rd and 4th pitch.

  • The Screaming Mountain Turtle (5.9, 5 pitches)
    There is a new first pitch to this climb that is maybe 10a that goes to right of the original line with bleached out threads. The rest of the pitches are sharp. I almost broke Szu-ting's wrist with rockfall on the first pitch. We used a #2,#1, .5 Camalot to supplement some sections, otherwise there are lots of bolts. There is a hidden bolt on the traverse pitch. The top pitch requires loose climbing above dubious cams. The final rappell (off route) is a sketchy thread at a chalky stance.

  • Low Mountain - L Echo des Montagnes (5.8, 5 pitches)
    An alpine style route with little hard climbing. Lots of rope drag if you're not careful. The 50 meter free-rappell is the best part of this climb, second is the very cool river of the river. In the shade for first half of the day and bolts everywhere.

  • Low Mountain - Monkey King (5.10c, 5 pitches)
    First pitch is fanastic and clean, link it to the 2nd. The 3rd pitch is soft rock but cool climbing and the 4th is the only bolt protected off-width to squeeze cimney in Yangshuo. Must use every rappell station to get down. Despite being dirty this is a fun route!

  • Twin Gate Western Tower - Penthouse Platforms (5.10a, 3 pitches)
    The hardest climbing is right of the ground. Like it says, big belay ledges, and the cool top-out and views make this an enjoyable route.

  • Brave New World, East Face - The Witch Woman of the Rock (5.10c, 5 picthes, bolted anchors)
    This is the only true trad climb we did and subsequently the most intense. There are indeed cracks from top to bottom but the rock quality is variable. This was Szu-tings favorite route and for good reason: serious climbing, we got use the gear she brought all the way from the states, amazing exposure, even better views, and the only true hand jams in Yangshuo. This route is recommended for experienced trad climbers as we used cams to #3 and a small set of nuts and many long runners. The anchors are in good shape as they are good bolts equipped with rope loops and rap rings.

  • The Egg - The Deviant Direct (5.9, 3 pitches)
    Szu-ting forgot we did this route so it must have not been very good. The 30 meter rappel directly from the top anchor is not eqipped and thus I had to jug back up to the anchor on-route.

Photos: 1)Endless unnamed, unexplored towers along the Li River; between Yangdi and Xing Ping 2)The team at the Egg; Josie, Masa, myself, and Szu-ting

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can't believe that I missed the off-width and squeeze chimney. I need to go back to Yangshuo then, silly. Did you order many bing li-Q's after the Monkey King? Miss you and I will sit in the hot spring for you. See ya soon.