Cat Ba Island Rock Climbing
View of Cat Ba Town bay.
IF YOU ARE GOING TO DEEP WATER SOLO CHECK THE TIDE INFORMATION OR YOU MAY GO WHEN YOU CAN'T DWS!
Cat Ba is an island about 4.5 hours from Hanoi by bus and boat. It has weather similar to the north coast of California.
In 2011 good accommodations on the main strip could be easily found in person for less than $10/night. I believe this doubles to reserve ahead and maybe more like $40/night in the summer months when the Island is full of Vietnamese tourists.
At page update the best online info was from Asia Outdoors asiaoutdoors.com.vn catbaclimbing.com
is also operating in the area however, I have no experience with them or the company. Please add comments if you have experience with them. Latest guidebook I've heard of and is available (Dec 2016) from Amazon:
Ha Long Bay Climbing: A rock climbing and deep water soloing guide of Ha Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay and Cat Ba Island Paperback – March 11, 2016
by Luca De Giorgi (Author), Gavrila Piper (Contributor), Chris Johnson (Contributor) ADDITIONAL INFORMATION PROVIDED BY Luca De Giorgi
The Ha Long Bay region of Vietnam, a sweep of water from which approximately 1,600 limestone karst islands soar, lies in the Gulf of Tonkin just off Vietnam’s northern coastline and is part of the UNESCO world natural heritage. These craggy islands boast a stunning mix of rock blanketed in jungle and steep, exposed faces. Although not all of these walls contain solid rock, there is an overwhelming abundance of magnificent climbable faces. Many of the walls that rise directly from the water are ideal for Deep Water Solo (DWS). Other faces stand over uninhabited sandy beaches, making for a unique and isolated sport climbing paradise. Cat Ba Island also boasts some amazing limestone cliffs to behold and experience. THE HISTORY:
The first climbers to visit Ha Long Bay came in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Americans Lynn Hill, Todd Skinner, Scott Milton, Paul Piana, Greg Child, and Frenchman Arnaud Petit, among others, led climbing expeditions to Vietnam and the Ha Long Bay region, bolting some of the area’s first known sport routes. Greg Child and Andy Parkin established early traditional multi-pitch lines in the bay, documented in the BBC’s The Face, Episode 2. British climbers such as Neil Gresham, Tim Emmett, Seb Grieve, Grant Farquhar, and Chris Lindner also visited, establishing sport and DWS routes. Tim Emmett and Klem Loskot are featured climbing at some of the locations presented in the guidebook in Big Up Productions’ Dosage Vol III, and Chris Lindner is featured in The Players.
Thanks to these pioneers, climbing in Vietnam and Ha Long Bay is growing fast in terms of development and popularity in the eyes of international climbers. Vietnam has since become a popular and inexpensive destination for travellers exploring and experiencing Southeast Asia through sport climbing and DWS. CLIMBING OVERVIEW:
There are more than 120 sport climbing routes on 13 crags, from 4a to 8a on Cat Ba Island and the beaches of Ha Long Bay. More than 230 deep water solo lines on 24 cliffs, from 4a to 7c+ wait for you in the bay, all in a day trip distance from Cat Ba Town. If you are an independent climber you can explore the crags of the main island Cat Ba on your own, you just need an access pass from Asia Outdoors (see below why) and a motorbike or bicycle. To explore the sport climbing potential of the bay you will need a basketboat with driver and the access passes for the beaches. Both can be easily organised at the Asia Outdoors shop.
If you are interested in DWS the easiest option is to join one of the Asia Outdoors DWS day trips. Going on your own or with an unlicensed basket boat driver can be potentially dangerous. First of all it is not so easy to find the right crags and secondly you cannot start climbing out of the water, since there is a notch at the base of the cliffs: you'll need a boat. Thirdly, you need intimate knowledge of the cliffs to avoid climbing at too low a tide or hitting one of the underwater rocks. If you are a group of experienced climbers Asia Outdoors will be happy to organise taylor made DWS trips for you. WHEN TO GO:
There are two main factors to consider when planning a climbing trip to Ha Long Bay. First you should know, that the temperatures vary significantly in the course of a year. The winter months are ideal for sport climbing, when the temperatures are cool (15-20 degrees celcius) and there is only moderate precipitation (5-25 mm a month). The downside of the winter are the unfavourable tides, which make DWS less enjoyable and only occasionally possible. A tide of over 2 meters is necessary to safely DWS in the bay and there are much more days with high tide during the daytime in the summer than in the winter. The downside of the summer months is that the weather is very hot and humid and there is a higher percentage of rainy days. While moderate rain is not a problem for DWS, since most cliffs are overhanging, but it obviously lessens the Ha Long Bay experience.
The ideal time to have fun on Ha Long Bay's DWS and sport climbing cliffs are the spring (April - May) and autumn months (September - November). The weather is generally good and there are generally over 15 days a month where you can DWS. It is recommended to send an email to Asia Outdoors to inquire about the current tides and to time your trip accordingly.
ORGANISING A CLIMBING TRIP
The easiest way to climb in Ha Long Bay is by staying on the southern main island of Cat Ba. In Cat Ba Town there is a wide selection of Hotels from which to choose and good touristic infrastructure. From there you can easily reach the crags on the island and in the bay. Also, Asia Outdoors is located in Cat Ba Town (on the waterfront, in front of the big orange arch, second floor of the Noble House restaurant). There you can get the access passes for individual climbing or join one of their climbing trips. If you are with a group of friends and want to live the ultimate Ha Long Bay climbing experience you should rent a junk boat for a few days and take a tour through the bay. Imagine spending as much time as you want on the crags, even the ones farther away, and passing the night in a secluded cove.
WHY DO I NEED TO PAY TO CLIMB ON CAT BA ISLAND?
Obtaining access permissions to climbing areas has been a complicated and time consuming process. Most crags are located inside UNESCO World Heritage boundaries, National Park or military areas, and on private land. Asia Outdoors’ founders invested immense effort to secure the necessary licenses that now allow you to climb here. Also Asia Outdoors is paying a monthly rent to the owners of Butterfly Valley and most of the other crags. Through your contribution Asia Outdoors can continue renting the land and ensuring the crag’s safety and further development.
It will cost you 300 Dong and take about 45 minutes from the airport to the:
Ben xe Luong Yen (Luong Yen station) bus station
1 Nguyen Khoai, Hanoi, Vietnam
For those staying in the old quarter the bus station is a short ride away. asiaoutdoors.com.vn
probably is a current (Dec 2016) source of information and probably the most up to date.
Your cab should bring you down into the front parking lot of the bus station. Things should be easy from here if you are big and white as everyone will say "Cat Ba" and point back; I assume this is because that is the only reason white folks come to this run down bus station. Enter the building in front of you and buy a ticket (170 dong in 2011) to Cat Ba Town from the Hoang Long Transportation Company on the right as you enter the building. Buses leave at 5:15 am, 7:15 am, 11:15 am, and 1:15 pm. The trip will take about 4.5 hours. The trip will take you by 2 hour bus, wait 30 minutes on curb, 45 minute bus, 45 minutes on ferry motor boat, and 30 minute bus drops you in the middle of Cat Ba town. The one 170 dong ticket will cover it all.
Weather station 22.7 miles from here
109 Total Climbing Routes
['4 Stars',7],['3 Stars',32],['2 Stars',34],['1 Star',2],['Bomb',0]
Classic Climbing Routes in Cat Ba Island
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Cat Ba Island
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Cat Ba Island:
Featured Route For Cat Ba Island
From: Tucson, AZ
Jun 16, 2015
I climbed in butterfly valley in Vietnam's Cat Ba National Park and it was pretty good. The scene was super chill with goats and farmers coming up to us between climbs. There was only one other party there. The place to get guidebook description of the routes there (you can rent it for a few bucks) is Asia Outdoors in Cat Ba town. I rented all the gear needed to climb safely for the day from them and it was about $37 per person. The other reasonable option is a deep water solo trip with asia outdoors for about the same price if the trip books up. Climbing trips with them are ridiculously overpriced and gumbyfied.
By Kelsey Mostertman
Feb 18, 2016
Cat Ba has some incredible climbs and great potential, I really enjoyed climbing in butterfly valley along with the Face out in the bay. The cave was fun but needs some cleaning and some work however the awesome crew at Asia outdoors is doing an awesome job of developing. I have not made it to The Farm or as now named Hidden Valley, this is due to bolting done by outside sources I would not choose to climb up. Hoping this gets resolved before accidents occur however this island has so many other great areas to explore I highly suggest making a stop over here. Buffalo Love I the valley is beautiful. After exploring Thakhek Laos, Chiang Mai, Tonsai in Thailand I would say it's pretty good, new guide books just came out and Asia Outddors is super helpful. Enjoy!
7a+ on the Face in the bay
By Luca Dg
Dec 31, 2016
NEW HA LONG BAY AND CAT BA ISLAND GUIDEBOOK
if you are interested in climbing in Ha Long Bay or Cat Ba Island you might be interested in the new guidebook of the area. It was commissioned and published by Asia Outdoors in 2016. It is now on sale at the Asia Outdoors shop on Cat Ba Island and on the major Amazon sites (17 GBP, 20 Dollars, 20 Euro). The 140 page guidebook contains more than 120 sport climbing routes on 13 crags, from 4a to 8a, more than 230 deep water solo lines on 24 cliffs, from 4a to 7c+ and 30 pages with additional information (climbing pics, maps, access info, rock climbing history, climate and geology, and other useful information).
Guidebook excerpt: EXCERPT
AMAZON.COM (Also available on Amazon EU and UK)
By Matt Westheimer
Apr 4, 2017
Climbing in Cat Ba was a wonderful experience. My girlfriend and I decided to go with Cat Ba Climbing and we had an extraordinary time. I had been climbing in the USA in Georgia and Tennessee and Railay in Thailand. What I loved about climbing in Cat Ba was the seclusion. It isn't nearly as developed as Railay which I found to be a good thing, and we found some really fun and challenging routes, not to mention the great deep water solo climbing.
Everyone at Cat Ba Climbing, from the owner to the team, was great. They took such good care of us and really cared about our well-being and making sure we had a lot of fun. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Cat Ba Climbing to anyone and everyone.
From: Toronto, Canada
5 hours ago
Just wanted to dispel some myths about climbing at Hidden Valley/The Farm. It is a crag originally developed by Asia Outdoors and now by Cat Ba Climbing. There are many rumours about it not being a safe area to climb in but this is not true. I climbed there in March and it is safely bolted (according to myself and other far more experienced climbers that I initially got beta from) and even has a stretcher at the crag along with emergency numbers for the owner of Cat Ba Climbing (a Vietnamese man known as Mr. Zoom). Also has a nice area with picnic tables, a slack line and hammocks, and you can get food (and beer!) delivered to the crag by the nice family who owns the land (their home is at the entrance, and you give your access pass to them). It is also a beautiful area and somehow manages to stay dry-ish in lighter rainy weather. You can get a free handout with route info from Cat Ba Climbing. They also hire international staff who are experienced climbing enthusiasts. They are located on Nui Ngoc St., just a bit north of the water, on the main floor of Mr. Zoom hostel.
Asia Outdoors manages the other climbing areas on Cat Ba Island and they are also good, but my understanding is the management of the two companies seem to be at odds with one another and even many of their staff are unaware of what is true and what is not of the other's crag(s), seemingly due to the misinformation their management tells them. Go check out all of the crags.. they are all safe and worth a visit! Don't believe the rumours and see for yourself.
You need access passes for the crags through Asia Outdoors or Cat Ba Climbing (depending on which crag you go to) as they are on private family properties. You can also rent gear from either company, though Cat Ba Climbing is a bit cheaper. Staff at both places are experienced climbers and often climb on their off days so if you are stuck without a partner, ask around at the offices.