One Way Ticket, 5.11a, on the Clocktower, Long Don...
Taiwan is an island in the East China Sea 110 miles off the coast of Mainland China and astride the Tropic of Cancer. The island is roughly one-third the size of Tennessee, with a population of 23 million people. The primary language is Mandarin Chinese, with Taiwanese and Hakkanese dialects also used.
Unlike most Pacific islands which are volcanic, Taiwan is tectonic in origin, and its central mountain range is loaded with wilderness peaks up to 13,000 feet. The highest peak, Yushan, is 3,952m and features an impressive-looking north face with various alpine challenges.
Rock climbing areas in Taiwan including Guanzhiling (limestone sport climbing in Chiayi County), bouldering in and around Taroko Gorge National Park (on the east coast), Dapaoyan (good volcanic cragging on small cliffs at Yangmingshan, a mountain park on the north side of Taipei city), and riverbed bouldering areas in the mountains of Hsinchu and Miaoli counties. The centerpiece of Taiwan rock climbing, however, is Long Dong (“dragon’s cave” in Chinese), with over a mile of wave-battered, sun-baked sea cliffs of very compact Silin sandstone on the beautifully rugged northeast coast of the island.
For more information - gym locations, outdoor walls, other crags, gear shops, etc. - checkout this website: Taiwan Rocks
Fly to Taipei Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) from anywhere in the world. If you’re already in Asia, Taipei is one hour from Hong Kong, two hours from Shanghai or Manila, and about three from Bangkok or Tokyo. Visitors from many countries are, as of 2015, granted free landing visa upon arrival (90 days for U.S. citizens).
Climbing legacy can be traced back to the Japanese occupation of Taiwan in the late 19th century. Somebody climbed Yushan during a survey and claimed a first ascent. Many of the other big peaks were scaled...
Rock climbing, as a separate discipline from mountaineering, began at Big Cannon Cliff probably in the early 80's. Being super tiny, it wasn't long before people started exploring other crags.
With the construction of the #2 Highway in the mid-80's, people began looking into the cliffs of the northeast coast, specifically Long Dong. Stories have been told of people climbing here before this time, but this is completely undocumented and only verified by accounts of people who knew people who talked about it back in the day. After the lifting of martial law in 1987, people were a lot more willing to explore, and the most obvious lines fell in quick succession.
By the 90's, many local and international climbers - and often these two classifications are inseparable - had made Long Dong into a legitimate destination crag. Yum-Yum, Jeff Wang, Ta-Chi Wang, Laurence Huen, Two Teeth, Paul Foster, Milk, and many others were crushing some routes that are seriously proud even by today's standards. Many bolts had been placed, and a guidebook came out in 1998. Over 100 routes were documented. LD was still way behind the times, but those who climbed it didn't seem to want to catch up, enjoying their own unique and remote destination.
What little technical mountaineering there is to do in Taiwan was established by this time as well. Though likely climbed earlier, these were the first documented alpine climbs. Raymond Chen lead expeditions to Dabajianshan in Sheipa National Park and put up several bold multi-pitch routes on the tall, crumbling faces of the iconic mountain. Milk was part of a team that climbed the north face of Yushan, which is of similar quality. A few bold ice enthusiasts found prime conditions - a very narrow window of opportunity in Taiwan - and climbed some couloir routes nearby. The south ridge, an "easy" though extremely exposed kilometer-long traverse, was also established. There have been tales told of an epic big wall ascent of a remote peak south of Taroko as well, but details are hard to pin down.
Matt Robertson arrived in the early 2000's from Yosemite, and brought the ethic with him. The plethora of cracks and broken faces at Long Dong were systematically explored, sent, and documented. The traditional mantra was voiced just in time to conflict with a huge effort by Deng Rong to grid-bolt every semi-clean cliff. Glue-in bolts were placed everywhere, including along Commissary Crack, which stirred up a major controversy between the old school ethics and the desire to open up new routes and make LD more accessible. In the end, a standard was set to never repeat this, and Matt released a guidebook documenting 101 of LD's most classic traditional lines.
At some point around this time, a few other crags were developed. Sean Wang produced a guidebook for a tiny limestone area in Guanziling, which was visited by Yuji Hirayama. A few routes were bolted in Kaohsiung too. Perhaps because of their distance from the "climber's hub" of Taipei, these areas have still yet to garner the attention that LD has.
Bolting at LD continued until 2007. Afterwards, the sport-oriented mentality continued to prevail, and floods of top-ropers began to congregate on every decent weekend. The pioneers slowly began disappearing, and with them the memory of spicy adventure. During this lull, a few "foreigners" stepped in and put up the area's two hardest routes. The first was Paul Brouard's Golden Legend, 5.13+ sport, a glistening golden arete that branched off an older climb and up the overhanging headwall. The second was Marcelo Berti Lungo's The Great Roof, 5.13- trad, which pulled through an off-width crack in the biggest roof of the Grand Auditorium.
In April 2012, Matt released a guidebook documenting 500+ routes of every type, which caused an even greater exodus from indoors to out. There was also a serious injury as a result of a mechanical bolt breaking in which the leader fell to the ground. In the summer of 2012, a campaign was begun to replace all mechanical bolts with glue-ins, including several routes listed as trad in the 2012 book, furthering an already contentious precedent.
In October 2013, Alex Honnold sent an unfinished bolted project at the Backdoor and named it Sorry Jeremy, downgrading it from 5.14- to 5.13-. Shortly thereafter, the local hardman Jeremy Hong redpointed the hardest sport climb in the First Cave, calling it Long March, his second attempt at establishing a 5.14.
Which brings us to the present. The first generation of bolts have been mostly removed, and the second generation have begun to fail due to SCC. Titanium has replaced steel as the material of choice. Crag maintenance is overseen by an organized though insular group whose future plans are uncertain...
Weather station 2.3 miles from here
273 Total Routes
['4 Stars',17],['3 Stars',105],['2 Stars',90],['1 Star',40],['Bomb',2]
Browse More Classics in Taiwan
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Taiwan:
Featured Route For Taiwan
Diagonal 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Asia
: ... : (2) Clocktower
wonderful crack with stiff kick in the pants just before topping out. glad i taped up for this one; i had the whole farm hanging on that last jam. guidebook mentions the possibility of linking diagonal with one of the upper pitches: although rope-drag wasn't problematic, the rope-eating cracks at the ledge dissuade any further vertical progress...[more] Browse More Classics in International
Latest Regional Forum Messages
By Matt Robertson
May 28, 2009
Long Dong currently has around 500 routes on high quality sandstone up to 70 meters high, including sport routes (5.5 to 5.14a), trad up to 5.12c, and bouldering. The area is on the Northeast Coast of Taiwan about 45 minutes from central Taipei City, and also offers great swimming and diving, hiking, amazing seafood and friendly Taiwanese culture.
By Ta-Chi Wang
May 29, 2009
To get a first look about this fabulous area and its quality of climbing, see 'Rock Climbing in Taiwan', by Matt Robertson: climbstone.com/
Hope some of my Taiwanese friends will start to put here their own photos and comments of their favorite routes at Dragon Cave.
By Jay W.
From: Longmont, CO
Feb 22, 2012
I'm thinking of moving to Taipei in a few months. Can anyone recommend a good climbing gym in the city, preferably one that offers lead climbing options?
From: Taipei City
Mar 4, 2012
Yeah, there's quite a few gyms and outdoor walls in Taipei depending on where you live.
Matt's site is still the best info about Long Dong, but for everything else about Taiwan Rock climbing & bouldering from Gyms to walls to Climbing gear shops, check out my newly launched site TaiwanRocks.net
By Bruce Lin
Sep 19, 2013
Does anyone know if Long Dong is closed because of the recent video of the house sized boulder almost crushing that car from a couple weeks ago?
By Nate Ball
From: Taipei, TW
Sep 20, 2013
Long Dong is accessible, and was never actually closed. The boulder has been cleared and the highway re-opened. No more detours.