YangShuo Rock Climbing
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|Shared By:||Ryan Kelly on May 14, 2010 · Updates|
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The town of YangShuo sits on the side of the Li River, covered in some 70,000 limestone karsts that line the horizon in any direction you turn. Once a relaxing get away, the town has sprung to life with the growing influx of climbers from around the world. For the good and the bad climbing is growing into a world-class destination in YangShuo, the likes of which rival Krabi in Thailand. Much like Krabi Im sure its only a matter of time before people start complaining about how climbed out the area is and wax poetic about how great it used to be. Might want to get here quick!
Development for climbing began in the 90s when Todd Skinner first put up some bolts on Moon Hill. Additional routes were put up by traveling climbers over the next several years but things didnt really take off until the next millennium when there was an explosion of new development. Just about any kind of climb can be found here now, from slab to overhang, single or multipitch, beginner romps to 5.15 as of Sharmas visit in 09. The potential for new development is almost limitless. There are currently around 400 climbs in the guidebook and more being put up every month. The development thus far mostly centers around Yangshuo, but theres climbing elsewhere in Guilin if youre ambitious enough to seek it out.
The climbing is typical Asian limestone. Smooth and white where sheltered from the environment, and spiky and black where the rain hits it. Most of the climbing is sport though there are a few traditional lines.
Yangshuo is probably the easiest reached non-major city in China, for those that don't speak the language. That said, you're not in Kansas anymore.
You have three basic options:
- Fly into Guilin and take a bus to YangShuo (easiest and quickest, also most expensive)
- Fly into Hong Kong and take the train to Guilin (easier than the following, but more expensive)
- Fly into Guangzhou (if in Asia), an industrial city on the mainland across from HK (cheapest option, also the most adventure). Don't expect anyone to speak English here.
Guangzhou is an industrial city with not much to look at, but it makes for quite an experience to the western traveler, especially if traveling solo. Just getting to the train station is an adventure; buying a ticket even more so. I wouldn't recommend wasting much time here, but if you can get a cheap flight in it's really not all that bad. Pre-arranging your train ticket out will help prevent wasting time here when you could be climbing in YangShuo.
Outside of the major cities and tourist traps China can be challenging for the foreigner, even those well-traveled. Don't expect the usual tourist signs in English, and multilingual assistance that you get in the rest of Asia. Even writing things down can be difficult at times. Your best bet is to practice up on charades before heading over.
Once you make it into Guilin County things change drastically. The heavy tourism has created a bubble of western culture much like the rest of southeast Asia. Signs are often doubled in English and the language is widely spoken. Getting around is simple so long as you stay in the bubble.
Unlike all of the other information presented about Yangshuo, the best climbing season is NOVEMBER! Thats 11 years experience.
The prime climbing season chart is completely inaccurate
The best place to stay is the aptly named Climber's Inn. It is clean and reasonably-priced. The former location was located in a loud part of town, but the new location is quiet but still allows great access to the city and climbing. The manager Lily is extremely welcoming and helpful! Her English is great. You can rent motor scooters at this hostel as well for transportation to the crag. Book it ahead of time though as it is popular.
Check the comments for more suggestions.
Budget dinner of choose-your-own veggies and/or meat at the intersection of Rongyin St and Chengzhong Rd for 12-15RMB.
Otherwise, there is food of every variety and price category. There are multiple grocery stores on Guihua St and fruit vendors on Diecui Rd.
Bikes can be rented throughout town for a few bucks and are a great way to access any of the climbs. They are also ideal for rest days spent peddling around the countryside.
Two short hikes in particular are also worthwhile. One climbs up the viewpoint right in Yangshuo park. Enter from Diecui Rd then walk to back and left side of the park to find the stairs that ascend the cliff side. Try to ignore the garbage, and hopefully you'll get a decent view. Across Pantao Rd from here is a winding alley that leads up to more stairs that climb up to the "TV Tower". It can be hard to find the entrance through the maze of back streets, but even exploring these can be fun. This hike is much longer but can still be done in under an hour one-way. There is a shady dude taking money at the top, but apparently this is semi-legit (felt so wrong). It should only be 5 RMB per person.
Liu Sanjie, aka the Impressions Light Show. Directed by Zhang Yimou, the mind behind the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing, the light show delivers in true Chinese 'over the top' style. Set in a cove of the Li river and backed by towering limestone karsts, over 600 performers act out an intriguing tale of well, I have no idea what the story was about, but they dance around and theres a lot of cool lights and stuff.
Classic Climbing Routes at YangShuo
Days w Precip