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Areas in Yunnan Province

Dali Area 0 / 9 / 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 10
Kunming Area 17 / 198 / 4 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 216
Lijiang Area 103 / 7 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 110
Stone Forest 1 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 3
Elevation: 6,206 ft
GPS: 25.052, 102.703 Google Map · Climbing Map
Shared By: Bob Moseley on Mar 16, 2008
Admins: Bob Moseley, Dan Flynn, Nate Ball
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updated April 2016

Most of Yunnan province lies on a rolling subtropical highland traversed by the Tropic of Cancer, officially known as the Yunnan Plateau. It is entirely underlain by limestone and a majority of Yunnan climbing crags lie here. A common refrain amongst new-route developers over the years has been that there is a lifetime of new routes awaiting anyone who starts poking around. There are hidden escarpments and caves everywhere, nearly all with high quality rock. Because this is the subtropics and rarely freezes, the frost shattering doesn’t weaken features on the face and you end up with reliably solid holds. The exception to this limestone orgy is Liming, which lies west of the Yunnan Plateau in the fore-ranges of the much more geologically complex Hengduan Mountains. Most of the Hengduan are a mish-mash of substrates, but the Liming valley is home to clean, pure, beautiful sandstone. The crags being developed in the Shigu area are in the physiographic transition between the Yunnan Plateau proper and the jumbled geology of the Hengduan, but are all limestone.

Climbing Areas of Yunnan: As of April 2016, Yunnan climbing is clustered in four areas of the province:

Dali Area – Two escarpments on the east side of Er Hai (Lake) near the town of Shuang Lang are the best developed areas and are treated here in Mountain Project and in the 2015 Climb China guidebook. Two others are mentioned on the The Crag website: Shi Men Guan tourist site and an area simply called Binchuan, presumably after the county town northeast of Dali.

Kunming Area – Kunming city lies at the heart of the Yunnan Plateau, where adventurous locals began exploring the surrounding hills in 1999. Since then numerous caves and faces have been developed west of the city in a hilly belt extending from the Western Hills (Xi Shan) escarpment along Dian Chi (Lake) in the southwest and running northwest for 30 km to Fumin Canyon. This is just the beginning. There are plenty more hidden gems waiting to be found.

Lijiang Area – Climbing occurs in three widely dispersed valleys in Lijiang County. The sandstone cracks of Liming, 60 km (air distance) into the mountains northwest of Lijiang, have gotten the most international attention of any crag in Yunnan. Climbs there are treated in a locally produced guidebook and in the 2015 Climb China guidebook. Activity on the limestone above the town of Shigu started in 2014 and is continuing at a rapid clip. Shigu lies in the Jinsha River (upper Yangtze) valley, 30 km due west of Lijiang and lower in elevation. Guanyin Gorge is a small crag developed in the early 2000’s and lies at the mouth of a canyon between Lijiang and the airport, 13 km south of old town.

Stone Forest (Shi Lin) – This wild karst landscape 100 km east of Kunming is mostly of historical interest.

Some background info about Yunnan climbing:

History: Here’s a brief history, up to 2005, which is when Renée and I left Yunnan. The first place to be developed in Yunnan was in the unique karst topography of the Stone Forest (Shi Lin), 100 km east of Kunming. Kurt Albert and Wolfgang Gullich put up some climbs there in 1986. During 1999 and early 2000, four sport routes were pioneered by Chinese climbers on the short limestone towers that constitute the “forest.” Stone Forest climbing was largely abandoned when the enormous potential of the Western Hills (Xi Shan) was discovered in 2000. The Western Hills, 15 km southwest of Kunming, still have nearly unlimited potential for new routes, from short, sport routes to high-end, multi-pitch lines on big walls. During May 2002, development began of a new area in a relatively remote valley of Fumin County. Lying 30 km northwest of Kunming, the atmosphere of this quiet, rural canyon is in sharp contrast to the mass tourism of the Western Hills at the edge of metropolitan Kunming. A small sport climbing area was developed near Lijiang in 2002 and in 2004. As of 2005, there were 7 climbs in a limestone canyon south of town. Wang Zhiming and crew began development of Little Dark Rain (Xiaomoyu) Cave in 2005, the first of many crags that would be developed in the hills west of Kunming city in subsequent years.

Climate: The limestone sport crags range in elevation from 1700 m in Fumin Canyon to 2200 m at Guanyin Gorge, near Lijiang. Liming village is similar to Lijiang in elevation, although sandstone cliffs are 200+m above the valley. Across the area, however, the relatively high elevation combined with a subtropical latitude (ca. 25o N) makes for a very pleasant climate. Indeed, Kunming is nicknamed the Spring City because of its enjoyable year-round weather. As expected then, you can climb throughout the year. Be aware though that precipitation is highly seasonal and the best seasons to climb are autumn, winter, and spring. The dry season begins in late September and runs through June. Monsoon rains begin sometime in June and persist through September, with the possibility of at least some rain nearly every day. There are times during the winter when the Spring City moniker seems like a marketing ploy by overly optimistic city fathers. It can be quite cold at times, but only if it’s cloudy. But if that subtropical sun is out, it will be pleasant on the rock. Guaranteed.

Grades: In the early days of Yunnan climbing (and China, generally), the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS) was used almost exclusively, probably because American climbers had the most influence back then. But as Yunnan opened up for climbing, French grades also became common, especially for sport routes. You’ll see both grades associated with many climbs.

Equipment: Except for Liming, most climbs are bolted on limestone faces and roofs. At some crags, the first bolt was purposely placed relatively high off the ground and sometimes a long reach from the stance. This was done to prevent local villagers from stealing the hanger, which is also a common problem at Moon Hill near Yangshuo. Again, aside from Liming sandstone, there are few trad routes in Yunnan due to the overwhelming dominance of limestone. There are a few crack climbs on the Western Hills and Shigu and most are fun. A word of caution--most cracks have been created or altered by water (solution) erosion in limestone and are very uneven-sided. Nuts, tri-cams, hexes, and threaded webbing often afford the best protection. Be very careful when placing camming units. Helmets are highly recommended! The rock is generally solid, but so few climbers have ascended some of these routes that there could be loose stones. Be especially careful on multipitch routes and when pulling ropes and top-roping. Helmets are essential for pioneering new routes. A 60 m rope is recommended for climbing in Yunnan. Many pitches are 30 m long and can only be top-roped with a 60 m rope. Some newer routes are even longer.

Trail and Route Conditions: The crags described here are off the beaten path. As the small, but growing Kunming climbing crowd has shifted activity to new areas, access trails and, in some cases, the climbs themselves have become overgrown with subtropical brush. Be aware that the descriptions in this guide are written as if the trails were open and the climbs had just been cleaned. We always carried a long Tibetan knife to clear the monsoonal growth every autumn.

Nasty Animals: During the late summer and early fall you’ll see a bright red caterpillar common on the brush. This beautiful little creature has a nasty bite that raises a large welt. Stay away! And then there is the occasional snake, but it’s rare to actually encounter a live one (although you’re sure to see shed skins on absurdly small ledges high on routes).

Getting There

Check any travel guide to China. Kunming, the provincial capital, is the usual point of entry to Yunnan. Lijiang is a well-known international tourist destination and is covered in all foreign and domestic tourist guides. There are direct flights to Lijiang from around China and a few select international destinations.

339 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Yunnan Province

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Through the Looking Glass
5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a A0
Soul's Awakening (half)
Trad, Aid 4 pitches
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Japanese Pixelated Genitals
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
Clam Digger
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
Wind of the Valley
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
Throw Your Legs Around My Shoulders a…
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Screaming at the Faraway Corner
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
Clam Digger "Direct"
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
The Lost World
Trad 5 pitches
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c A0
Back to the Primitive
Trad, Aid 8 pitches
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a
The Sphinx
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b
The Funky Dan
5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b
Japanese Cowboy
Through the Looking Glass Lijiang Area > … > Lisu Area > Primitive Buttress 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad
Soul's Awakening (half) Lijiang Area > … > Dinner Wall > Cretaceous area 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a A0 Trad, Aid 4 pitches
Japanese Pixelated Genitals Lijiang Area > … > Yangshuo Sports C… > Uncensored Wall 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
Clam Digger Lijiang Area > … > Lisu Area > Pillars area 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b Trad
Wind of the Valley Lijiang Area > … > Dinner Wall > Cretaceous area 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b Trad
Throw Your Legs Around My S… Lijiang Area > … > Yangshuo Sports C… > Censored Wall 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b Trad
Munsunned Lijiang Area > … > Holidays > Space Mtn 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b Trad
Screaming at the Faraway Co… Lijiang Area > … > Lisu Area > Pillars area 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Trad
Clam Digger "Direct" Lijiang Area > … > Lisu Area > Pillars area 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c Trad
The Lost World Lijiang Area > … > Lisu Area > Primitive Buttress 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c Trad 5 pitches
Back to the Primitive Lijiang Area > … > Lisu Area > Primitive Buttress 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c A0 Trad, Aid 8 pitches
Akhum-Rah Lijiang Area > … > S Valley > Guardian 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a Trad
The Sphinx Lijiang Area > … > S Valley > Guardian 5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a Trad
The Funky Dan Lijiang Area > … > Lisu Area > Pillars area 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b Trad
Japanese Cowboy Lijiang Area > … > Dinner Wall > Cave area 5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b Trad
More Classic Climbs in Yunnan Province »

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Going to both Yunnan and Guangxi provinces to climb over the next 18 days. I'll try to remember to comment but send me an email to remind me to post about preferences, getting around, etc. My email is

Levi Apr 8, 2017
I'm potentially going to be in Kunming (or maybe Guilin) for the summer (May 8th - August 21st) I live in Utah right now and climb 2 or 3 times a week. Looking for a climbing partner. I lead 10b-10d here in Utah and project 11a-11b. Probably be a little bit stronger by the time I get out there.

Let me know if you are going to be out there or if you know where I can get some more info about the climbing communities.


p.s. I speak alright Mandarin Mar 25, 2017

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