Matt's guidebook is beautiful and it is highly recommended that any climber at Long Dong get it. It is also quickly becoming out-of-date as steel bolts corrode and are (or aren't) rebolted. For those of you who have smart phones, you can download the MP app and view all of the information posted here at the crag. It could save you a lot of trouble.
There is also a locally-sourced and regularly-updated supplement called Guidebook Plus
(龍洞 in traditional Mandarin) is a long stretch of sea cliffs on the northern end of Taiwan facing east into the Pacific Ocean. The name here sounds like a crude reference, but actually translates to Dragon Cave
and was named for an impressive rock formation that can be seen from above or from the north. It sits just north of the Tropic of Cancer, and is indeed a tropical paradise... though perhaps not the same one you had in mind.
The character of the climbing is totally unique. The crashing waves, the terraces of stone, and thorny pandanus plants all contribute to the exotic feel of this place. Although the Dragon Cave has its own completely unique character, it could be compared to the Gunks of New York state, for its inordinate traditional style and juggy roofs, as well as Arapiles in southern Australia, for the color of the stone and the isolated setting. Most of the cliffs are less than 30m tall, and the solid portions shorter still, but a few bigger, more adventurous climbs do exist. Many of the crags are separated by 5-10 minutes that involve a lot of boulder hopping, scrambling, and sometimes even traversing, which can be treacherous for the inexperienced outdoorsman.
The rock is dense but coarse "sandstone" - probably more aptly called "quartz conglomerate." It comes in many shades, ranging from dull gray to black, red, orange, gold, and silver. There are large crystals and inclusions that bite on the fingers and shoes that keep the rock generally high friction. Some areas have beautiful clusters of fully-formed quartz points as climbing features. Between the crystals and high friction, it is best advised to tape up for trad climbing if you plan to climb for multiple days, so as to save the skin. Beware that the coarse and undulating stone, though compact and hard, may make placing trad gear complex.
The climbing here is basically unregulated. There is no official group that maintains the routes, but the locals don't take kindly to anyone "changing things" except those who are revered within their own circles. Although it is in a designated scenic area, there is also no governmental regulation. It should be noted that although there are a large number of sport climbs, most of these can be (and have been) done partially or entirely on trad gear. The grades run the entire spectrum of difficulty, centered around 5.10 and fairly honest until you reach 5.11, at which point the relative difficulty is all over the map.
Beware that this is a sea cliff. As with any such cliff there are local hazards. Some cliffs may be inaccessible depending on tide and weather. Every year, some people (usually fishermen) are washed away to sea never to be seen again. Bolts here suffer from accelerated corrosion, and although some routes have new bolts and hardware, many others are starting to show signs of age. Check the "Bolts" note below.
Top anchors are somewhat standardized. Usually there are two level or staggered glue-in bolts with quick-links. Some traditional climbs have rope-webbing-ring anchors that are solid as long as they aren't too sun-faded and crusty. Please do not remove any of the fixed hardware and never top-rope through it.
As for community, there will generally be others around at Long Dong, and quite a lot on weekends. Although the number of visitors is growing, you can usually find a cliff all to yourself if you do not set your heart on one particular climb. If you do run into other climbers, they are as likely to be foreigners as they are locals, but regardless, both groups are friendly and willing to help, be it if you are looking for beta or a belay. There is also a large population of fishermen, whom you will see standing out on the rocks in all kinds of weather trying to pull in mackerel and whatever else they might hook. Divers and day-trippers are also common, especially in the summer, when they flood the north parking area day after day.
Food and drink may be purchased at the north parking area, but this is limited to instant noodles, canned bean congee, cookies, water, beer, and other cheap beverages. Highly recommend packing your own food.
To get in touch with local English-speaking climbers: Taiwan Climbing Calendar
For more information - gym locations, outdoor walls, other crags, gear shops, etc: Taiwan Rocks
Depending on where you are coming from, you may arrive via different routes. As well, different walls have different arrival/parking places and are thus slightly different. All of Long Dong however is common to the NE Coastal Highway, #2, between Ruibin and Aodi, and lies at the most northeasterly point between.
There is a bus you can take from near Taipei Main Station. It's in a building called Taipei West Station Building A. The bus number is 1811 or 1812, and it costs about 120ntd. It leaves every day at 8:20am, 9:20am, 10:20am, 2:20pm, 5:20pm, and 8:20pm. It will get you there in just over an hour, and will drop you off at either the north or south parking areas. If you miss this bus, there are always buses going to Keelung, where you have to wait for a transfer to a bus going to Fulong (check the signs). On the way back, you can hitchhike, or wait for a bus, then transfer in Keelung back to Taipei (very short wait).
There are three main parking areas: North, Central, and South. North is best for the School Gate, Clocktower, Long Lane, and Music Hall crags. Central is best for Grand Auditorium, First Cave, and Second Cave. South is best for Golden Valley and Backdoor.
North Parking: This will be the first option most encounter, provided you are coming in from Highway 2 or 62. Just past the lighthouse at Bitou, you will pass through a tunnel. Long Dong Bay will appear on your left, and there will be signs in English. Take the left turn at the traffic light (Lung Tung St.) and drive a few hundred meters to the road's end where there is a public parking lot at the Marina. You can find a public bathroom and some shops for some snacks or drinks here. Approach along the rocky shoreline and follow a trail into the pandanus plants, making for the obvious corner of School Gate crag.
Central Parking: Not far past Lung Tung Street, having come considerably up hill, you will encounter an unmarked turn-off on the left. Take the first one you find, which is to your left on a right hand curve. Follow the road to its end after it curves gently up and left enough to have turned you almost completely in a circle. Park here and walk up a white stone trail. This will take you first to some nice overlooks (a 5 minute diversion that will give you a beautiful overlook of the coast and climbing below), from which you can actually descend to the Grand Auditorium. A hundred meters past this you will reach the rough rut known to climbers as the Golden Valley Trail - a steep and sometimes muddy rut of hard clay down to the shores over 100 meters below. After passing the somewhat obvious turnoff, the trail continues all the way to the south parking area.
South Parking: Continue south and go through a tunnel. Just after the tunnel, take the first left into a small drive, passing a small Buddhist temple on your left and continue to the end of the short drive. There is a public toilet and washing sink. From this parking lot, head up and north on the white stone trail and continue uphill for a ways until you encounter the Golden Valley Trail, or you can walk down to the gazebo and then past it. Follow a fairly obvious trail that eventually takes you down some stone steps to the Backdoor area.
Bolts here should be considered suspect until determined otherwise. This is due to a phenomenon unique to seaside crags...
Salt from the sea water is sprayed and/or blown onto the cliffs, and thus onto the bolts. Steel, which comes in many different varieties, can degenerate from contact with the chlorides in this salt and from being weighted. This process is called "stress corrosion cracking." It works like this: interaction of chlorides and steel form superficial corrosion on the bolt; the cracks expand when weighted, extending and deepening the corrosion; eventually it can break from a force far lower than rated.
There are essentially two types of installment methods for climbing bolts: mechanical
. Mechanical bolts are far more susceptible to corrosion, because the way the bolt and hanger are installed places them under stress. They have been known to fail even when they don't show any visually obvious symptoms. Mechanical bolts are unreliable at Long Dong, so the ones you see should not be trusted.
Glue-ins, on the other hand, are attached to the rock with an airtight bond (the glue) that, when installed correctly, is stronger than the rock itself. However, glue-in bolts are still susceptible to stress corrosion cracking, and some more than others.
Even the best marine-grade steel bolts will eventually be compromised, though local lifespan is uncertain. Age and appearance only tell part of the story, as rate of corrosion is subject to numerous conditions. Thus, it becomes nearly impossible to determine if a given route or even a given bolt is safe or not. As a rule of thumb, shiny new bolts are probably good, and everything else is up to you. Most of the routes that get climbed were bolted between 2005-2007, and many others in 2011-2013. But...
As the folks in Thailand and elsewhere have learned, titanium glue-in bolts are the only solution. Connections have been made, a few have been installed, and they seem to be the future of fixed protection here.
Check the route descriptions for info on bolt types. It will say "bolts" and the year they were installed if they are considered solid. Otherwise there will be a note.
A standard light rack, a set of ten draws, and a 50-meter rope is fine for a vast majority of routes. However, a climber wanting to do anything should take a double set of cams from TCU's to 4", a full set of nuts, 10+ QD's, and several slings. A 60m rope is necessary for a very select few routes. Some cord/webbing and lockers will come in handy for top-rope anchors and multi-pitch routes. And a helmet!
Also beware to clean your gear after every trip, as the cams may be fine the night after getting misted, but may not work at all after a month in your closet. Gear is expensive, so don't screw it up or get lazy. This is true for all sea-cliffs.
There is a hostel owned by an old couple with a caretaker at the north parking area. It will have a green #3 by the door. The caretaker is a nice lady and speaks English fluently. It's 1200NT/night or 400NT/person if more than three people. They provide tatamis, blankets, pillows, and beds if you're lucky.
There are also hostels in the beautiful tourist town of Jiufen, and established pay-site camping in the beach town of Fulong. Both are about a 20-minute drive from the north parking area.
Technically speaking, camping is not allowed. There is a sign at the north parking area that says so clearly in Chinese and English. However, I have never heard of a story in which people who were staying in the Second Cave were asked to leave by the Coast Guard or any other authority. Maintain a low profile if staying the night. Clean up after yourself. Other people do the same - DON'T LET THE CAVE BECOME A JUNK SHOW! Also, bring a tent. Unless you enjoy being eaten alive.
The weather here can be good enough for climbing days to be had year-round. Keelung, a city to the north, receives an incredible amount of rain per year (140in/370cm). Though the Dragon Cave escapes the worst of it, it can still be unclimbable at times. The summer is dry but uncomfortably hot, spring and fall have regular wet streaks but are more often okay, and winter is soggy and cold but occasionally perfect. Check the weather feature above for forecasts.
There has been a long history of climbing at the Dragon Cave, but there is really only one definitive source of information... Rock Climbing Taiwan
, by Matt Robertson
This book has all you need. It is 30usd from Matt's website climbstone.com
or 800ntd (cheaper) at a climbing shop east of Taipei Main Station. It doesn't really cover anything other than the Dragon Cave, but it does detail every one of the 500+ routes there. Beautiful color, easy to understand, lots of information... get it! Long Dong Trad Climbs
, by Matt Robertson
The only publication people could use for reference for many years. It includes 101 trad climbs that are all featured in the newest book. Most pictures and topos are in black and white - a nice retro piece. LungTung Rock Climbing Guide
, by Yum-Yum
If you hang around long enough, you will hear Yum-Yum's name thrown around a bit. This was the first legit publication, and presents an interesting perspective on how things have changed. Now a relic.
Get the new guidebook.
Weather station 6.8 miles from here
197 Total Routes
['4 Stars',15],['3 Stars',85],['2 Stars',65],['1 Star',18],['Bomb',2]
Browse More Classics in Long Dong (Dragon Cave)
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Long Dong (Dragon Cave):
Featured Route For Long Dong (Dragon Cave)
Big Drum 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Asia
: ... : (4) Music Hall
Large slopers and round holds pass three bolts to a ledge. Tall climbers (over 6 feet tall) can easily clip and pass the next two bolts, however shorter climbers require a bit of creative legwork in the large horizontal under the fourth bolt and small holds in between the big stuff.In the original guidebook, written by a generation that is *far* shorter on average than the current crop of Taiwanese, this route was rated 5.11c/d. It has since been downgraded to 5.11b...[more] Browse More Classics in International
Latest Regional Forum Messages
Taken from a boat, looking at Long Lane and Music ...
View south from Discipline Hall Sept 2013
Above the Grand Auditorium, looking south
Looking south towards the Golden Valley
Sign near School Gate crag
Looking north from Golden Valley trail
View towards the rock field entrance
The shop at the school gate entrance. The next bui...
Signs at the School Gate entrance
Jul 21, 2011
This place sounds rad. Is there a guidebook (english maybe?) for this area? when is the best time to visit?
By Nate Ball
From: Taipei, TW
May 2, 2012
With the release of the new guidebook, this place is going to be on the international climbing map. Tonsai and Ha Long Bay and Yangshuo and Yunnan have their limestone sport, Korea has stuff, Japan has stuff, but as for trad, none of them have the concentration and accessibility and setting that Long Dong does.
Matt and Maurice, awesome job! To the rest of the community, you are what make this place so fuggin spectacular!
By Hannah Watkiss
Aug 2, 2013
Thanks for the info! I just went to Long Dong last weekend for my first rock climbing experience, and it was excellent. I can't wait to try again. Here's my blog post on it.
If anyone has any advice on what climbs in Taiwan are great for absolute beginners (or would like to invite me to go along on a climb) I'd love to hear about it!
Oct 30, 2013
LD was my original stomping ground. Awesome crag, awesome community. Too bad it's on the other side of the globe for me now.
A few notes for potential visitors:
This place is very beginner friendly, for both sport and trad. Easy approaches, generally vertical terrain, good rock quality, excellent features for easy and solid placements, and many more bolts per route than you'll find stateside.
However, setting topropes is not as easy without having at least one lead-capable party member - top access is not possible for most areas and bolted anchors can be difficult to reach in areas where access is possible.
For more seasoned climbers, LD has lots to offer as well - much more than is listed on MP. There are many bolted lines in the 5.12 range, although notably fewer at 5.13 and above. Don't expect a hardman's mecca along the lines of the Red, New, Smith, Rifle, etc, but there are plenty of quality lines to keep all ability levels occupied for multiple seasons. Grading tends to be inflated by one or two letters on average, similar to numbers in China and Thailand.
The crags are generally not rain friendly, due to the mostly vertical nature of the cliffs. Cave areas suffer from humidity, slickness, and loose, sandy stone after storms. Exposed, south, and east facing walls dry quickly after rain, though.
The stores along the main entrance (He Mei elementary school) sell tropical fruit jellies when in season. This is critical beta during the spring and summer months.
Oh, and a super-quality guidebook is available in English.