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Li Ming (黎明)

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Li Ming (黎明) Rock Climbing 


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World class crack climbing on bomber sandstone. 

Gorgeous sandstone walls rise above the village of Li Ming, featuring beautiful crack lines that beg to be climbed. The climbing here may be less concentrated than areas like Zion and Indian Creek, however, the routes have so much character that you'll remember every pitch. In contrast to the cracks of Indian Creek, the cracks of Liming usually vary in size from jam to jam, piece to piece and actually have difficult crux moves. It's not rare for a single crack to have everything from fingers to off-width. There is everything from hard, clean single pitch routes to adventurous multi-pitch routes that demand the full arsenal of crack techniques. While vegetation climbing is integral to the Li Ming experience, established classics have cleaned up beautifully. Whether you are looking for full-out adventure, punishingly difficult trad lines or casual cragging, Li Ming has the goods.

The climbing here is extremely varied. There are many fun routes in the 5.7 to 5.9 range, making Li Ming a good place to begin a crack climbing career. The majority of established routes are in the 5.10 to 5.11 range, many of which are clean and classic. There are dozens of beautiful 5.12s that demand a diverse skill set - from perfect finger cracks to offwidth roofs, from technical face to sustained dihedrals. And for the crushers out there - Li Ming has many high-end testpieces with both The Great Firewall and The Honeycomb Dome offering some of hardest continuous crack climbing in the world at 5.13d, Tetragramaton (5.13a) and Air China (5.13c) being more modern technical lines following discontinuous cracks. There are countless new hard lines waiting for discovery, some are already cleaned and equipped just looking for a free ascent. And for the climbers that prefer long adventurous routes, there are a handful of top-out routes between 150 and 200 meters with a lifetime of potential yet unexplored. As of 2015, Li Ming is very stacked but not even close to fully developed.

Organization 

Crags are generally grouped based on approach and mirror the organization of the Li Ming Rock guidebook.

Lisu Area: Pillars, Pinecrest Buttress, Primitive Buttress, Painted Wall,
Pandora: Pandora & Southern Oracle
Dinner Wall: The Cave Area, Cretaceous Area
The Holidays: Space Mountain, Four Seasons
South Valley: The Diamond, Die Sternwarde, The Guardian, Indy Wall, Angel Wall, Bull Crag
Yangshuo Sports Climbers Crag: Censored Wall, Uncensored Wall
One Dragon Area: Old Dragon Buttress, The Watchtower


If you want to get an idea of what the place looks like, here's a well made video worth a gander: Li Ming Video

Guidebook 

The main developer, Mike Dobie, has meticulously documented Li Ming development in his guidebook Li Ming Rock. Don't expect these MP pages to ever compare - more than 300 pitches are featured in the guidebook, with beautiful photographs and clear directions to access Li Ming and all the crags. Li Ming Rock Version 6 is available as of Feb 2017 direct from Mike; contact him at mdobie012@gmail.com.

Gear 

Bring a minimum of doubles from small (00s and/or ballnuts) to fists. There is a lot of wide here, so a #5 is basically mandatory and #6 is also a good idea. If you bring Bigbros, you'll have plenty of opportunity to use them, they generally can seat well in the parallel cracks. A double rack will keep most routes safe and fun, though occasionally, more are needed, rarely more than quads; bring extras of your favorite sizes. A set of nuts, especially offsets, come in handy. Five to ten shoulder-length slings should suffice. Most of the routes were equipped to get up and down with a single 60m line, but a 70m will work better on a handful (including the must-do P2 of The Firewall and many routes in the new Yangshao Sport Climber's Crag).

Bring athletic tape, especially if you are new to crack climbing, to protect your precious skin since you won't be able to buy it in Liming. The rock is very coarse; handjams can grind finger tips thin, making a skin salve highly recommended.

If you are looking to do first ascents, bring some long 12mm (1/2 inch) bolts. Stainless steel would be ideal, but as the climate is mostly dry, plated-steel should have a long life. A hand-drill works very well - 8 minutes or so for a 12mm hole 10cm deep. Low quality hammers, brushes, and gloves can be purchased for cheap in Li Ming. Pins and beaks aren't necessary from my experience. Wide gear (Big Bros, Valley Giant) is nice to have, there are lots of unclimbed offwidths. Tat is not necessary - climbers have left a large pile of old ropes upstairs at the Faraway - a valuable community resource. Be sure to bring fatty rap rings and old biners. Nut tools are very useful for cleaning out cracks; other useful tools like little hoes and saws can be purchased in Li Ming.

Getting There 

For international access, flying into Kunming is best. Otherwise cheap trains link up all major Chinese cities; and now with air-travel prices falling, cheap flights can be found. From Kunming take plane, train or bus to Lijiang; round trip flights can be found super cheap and trains run for $15-25 one way. In Kuming, if going from the airport to the train station or vice-versa, bus 919-C connects them for $2, it takes less than an hour early morning and late at night but over an hour during daytime traffic.

Lijiang has three buses stations. You need the one on Changshui Rd (长水路) just west of Minzhu Rd (民主路) for the minivan-buses to Li Ming.
Rock Climbing Photo: Show this picture to any taxi driver, they'll know...
Show this picture to any taxi driver, they'll know where it is. It costs less than 10 yuan.

From the Lijiang train station, bus #18 can be taken to the second to last stop, leaving a 100 meter walk west to the bus station.

Regular buses run from Lijiang to Li Ming for 40 yuan. Oftentimes you have to switch buses in Zhongxing (种兴). Shigu (石鼓), a recently unearthed limestone crag with large multipitch potential is along the road to Zhongxing. From Zhongxing, regular buses run the 25 kilometers to Liming.

If you're looking for a good adventure and traveling light, hitchhiking in China is extremely effective and fascinating.

Money 

Be sure to bring all the Chinese Yuan you think you will need to Li Ming, as the closest ATM and currency exchange is in Lijiang. Most climbers can budget 80 - 100¥ per day ($12-16 US$); 60 RMB would be an absolute minimum. Here's the average cost of the necessities per person: accommodation 20-30¥, breakfast 10¥, fruit and snacks for a day 5-15¥, dinner 15-30¥.

Seasonality  

In short, the climbing season is October through June with ideal conditions mid-October through November then again late February until mid-May.

Liming has a semi-arid climate characterized by summer monsoons. The rainy season generally runs from June through early October. By mid-October, blue-skies and stable dry weather dominate. Fall rain events typically consist of a period of 2 to 5 days of cloudy weather with occasional light rain, which doesn't interfere with climbing too much. Fall tempertures generally fluctuate between 0 - 5 °C at night and 15 - 25 °C during the day. Evaporative cooling makes dawn exceptionally cold, but the high elevation sun quickly warms the valley. In winter, climbing is limited to south facing cliffs, making mid-December through January a less-than-ideal yet managable time for climbing. By the Chinese New Year, the higher angle of the sun increases direct sunlight and warms the valley. I've heard March described as the best month for climbing with warmer nighttime temperatures and more clouds than in fall, making it easier to climb any aspect, though periodic rains may necessitate rest days. By late May, humidity and precipitation ramp up and by mid-June, monsoons end the climbing season.

Food, Water, Shelter 

Li Ming can provide all the food needed to fuel an army of climbers. A vegan diet is simple in Li Ming. For meat-eaters, pork is the main option. Breakfasts of noodle, rice or mungbean curd with optional egg cost a dollar or two; yoghurt is also available, but no oats. Snacks, drinks and fruits in wide variety is simple for the crag. Dinners are most often eaten communally sharing many different plates of food - lots of fresh produce and un-refrigerated meats available with rice. Non-severe food poisoning can happen but frequency seems to be falling.

Bring a water bottle that you feel comfortable pouring boiling water into. That's the cheapest easiest way to get drinking water. Otherwise treat it or buy bottles at the shops. Tea and hot water are widely available. You can hunt down Yunnan grown coffee in Lijiang but are better off bringing it along if you drink coffee. Nescafe, however, is sold at all the shops in Li Ming. Protein drink powders mix very well with the walnut milk and date-flavored milk, making for great energy for the crag.

The main two places climbers stay at is the Faraway Hotel and Tourist Services dorm rooms. Faraway charges 20-30 RMB for dorm beds and 60-100 RMB for rooms. The youth hostel beds are 20 RMB. Fancier pricier options are also available.

Geology 

The rock of Li Ming consists of the Danxia formation, a sandstone and conglomerate rock with a striking red color. For a sandstone, the rock is generally quite hard (slightly stronger than Wingate sandstone of Indian Creek), consisting of a fine grained quartz and feldspar sand. A discerning eye will notice the yellow and orange strips that color the cliffs, these are likely clay inclusions and generally have little effect of the integrity of the rock, however, the worst rock of Li Ming is generally pale in color. As I understand, the rocks of Li Ming are lacustrine deposits from the Cretaceous age. A recent (geologically speaking) uplift and jointing event, resulting from the Himalayan mountain building, exposed the beautiful cliffs that define the Li Ming area and further glacial activity carved the deep narrow valleys.

Dogs 

Li Ming has a charming crag dog population. They are great company, just make sure they behave.
Rock Climbing Photo: Jerry in his element. He is the biggest and most l...
Jerry in his element. He is the biggest and most loved, lives on a leash at the Faraway. He always wants to join climbers out to the crag, but must stay on the leash and not go to the South Valley.

Rock Climbing Photo: Ding Dong, equally famous, also lives at Faraway a...
Ding Dong, equally famous, also lives at Faraway and usually follows out the first of the climbers to leave. He is a bad ass - he got hit by a car apparently breaking his hip and then 5 days later, hiked to the top-out of the Dawn Chimney when we went cleaning! Routes named after him are good.

Rock Climbing Photo: Chángwěi, Long Tail, chases after cars and motor...
Chángwěi, Long Tail, chases after cars and motorbikes with brilliant precision. Phenomenal crag dog. There aren't any climbs named after him yet.

Climbing Season

For the Lijiang Area area.

Weather station 54.7 miles from here

103 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',36],['3 Stars',41],['2 Stars',16],['1 Star',7],['Bomb',1]
['<=5.6',1],['5.7',4],['5.8',7],['5.9',11],['5.10',30],['5.11',36],['5.12',10],['5.13',4],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Li Ming (黎明)

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Li Ming (黎明):
Through the Looking Glass   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 45'   Lisu Area : Primitive Buttress
Screaming at the Moon (half)   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 60'   Lisu Area : Pillars area
Soul's Awakening (half)   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a A0     Trad, Aid, 4 pitches, 250'   Dinner Wall : Cretaceous area
Truffula Tree   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 3 pitches, 200'   Lisu Area : Primitive Buttress
Japanese Pixelated Genitals   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 70'   Yangshuo Sports Climbers' C... : Uncensored Wall
VPN Crack   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 140'   Dinner Wall : Cretaceous area
Munsunned   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Trad, 70'   The Holidays : Space Mountain
Wind of the Valley   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   Dinner Wall : Cretaceous area
Clam Digger   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Trad, 90'   Lisu Area : Pillars area
Throw Your Legs Around My Shoulders and Let Me Wear You Like A Feedbag   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Trad, 125'   Yangshuo Sports Climbers' C... : Censored Wall
Screaming at the Faraway Corner   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   Lisu Area : Pillars area
The Raven   5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   Lisu Area : Primitive Buttress
The Lost World   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Trad, 5 pitches, 600'   Lisu Area : Primitive Buttress
Clam Digger "Direct"   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Trad, 1 pitch, 85'   Lisu Area : Pillars area
Back to the Primitive   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c A0     Trad, Aid, 8 pitches, 600'   Lisu Area : Primitive Buttress
Akhum-Rah   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   South Valley : The Guardian
The Sphinx   5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a     Trad, 85'   South Valley : The Guardian
The Funky Dan   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Trad, 1 pitch, 110'   Lisu Area : Pillars area
Japanese Cowboy   5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b     Trad, 80'   Dinner Wall : Cave area
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Li Ming (黎明)

Featured Route For Li Ming (黎明)
Rock Climbing Photo: The Lost World is the obvious fracture in the cent...

The Lost World 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c  Asia : China : ... : Primitive Buttress
The Lost World is the continous gash that splits the west face of the Primitive Buttress. Doing it in 5 pitches makes every pitch memorable and challenging. The Lost World is fully equipped and cleaned for an enjoyable ascent, as long as you don't mind a little suffering.P1: 45m. 5.11. Hands to fingers to a burly, wide roof. Cruise past the first anchor up a wide flare to a tree. With good rope management, it is easy to link into the next guidebook-pitch by moving right to a ...[more]   Browse More Classics in International

Photos of Li Ming (黎明) Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Sandstone walls rising over Li Ming.
BETA PHOTO: Sandstone walls rising over Li Ming.
Rock Climbing Photo: Market day
Market day
Rock Climbing Photo: From Lisu area
From Lisu area
Rock Climbing Photo: NW Valley from One Dragon close to sundown
NW Valley from One Dragon close to sundown
Rock Climbing Photo: Walking back into town from a day of climbing. Pre...
Walking back into town from a day of climbing. Pre...

Comments on Li Ming (黎明) Add Comment
Show which comments
By RyderS Stroud
From: Dali, Yunnan Province, China
Dec 27, 2014
New edition of the guidebook (version 4) by Mike Dobie et al. (Chinese and English volumes together in the same book) can be purchased in Liming town at the Faraway Inn/Hostel for 120 RMB (~$19.25). The most recent edition was released in November 2014.

The youth hostel is a great place to stay for a good price (20 RMB for a dorm-style room). It is directly across the street from the tiny China Mobile shop along the main drag of Liming village.

Mike also keeps a blog about his development and general climbing adventures in China. Check it out below:

mikedobie.tumblr.com/

I also keep a website of sorts on the China dirtbagging van life:

itinerantclimberscollective.co...

Some 2015 updates:

Transport: Kunming is usually your cheapest air destination in Yunnan. Puddle jumpers to Lijiang or Dali are possible from there, Lijiang usually being cheaper than Dali. Ground transportation from Kunming is also available in the form of trains and buses to Lijiang, and usually cheaper than flying to either of the smaller destination cities. The Kunming-Dali-Lijiang highway is now complete and cuts down on the time to get to Liming, especially from Lijiang. Your goal is to catch a van ride from 丽江/Lijiang to either 石鼓/Shigu or 种兴/Zhongxing. Another van will take you out to 黎明/Liming.
By Drew Marshall
Apr 19, 2016
Li Ming is well worth a visit for any 5.10 trad climber, but there are only a few days worth of quality routes for someone climbing 5.9 or below.

It's mostly cragging but there's a good number of stellar multis as well.
Soul's Awakening (5.10), Back to the Primitive (5.11) the Dune Route (5.11(+?)) and Wind of the North (5.12+) should be TOP priority for anyone visiting! I can't vouch for the Dawn Chimney (5.11-) PG13) bit it looks rad too!
By Nate Ball
Administrator
From: Portland, OR
Nov 11, 2016
Just got back from nearly a month in Liming and have a few bits of advice and insight to share...

Food
My wife and I are vegetarians, and we found it very easy to get by as long as you're not picky about meat grease in your food. Dishes from the restaurants tend to be extremely oily, so we stuck to soup (汤 tāng) and fried rice (炒饭 chǎo fàn) for dinner. Lots of veggies to choose from. All the restaurants are essentially the same, though vary slightly in oiliness, proportions, and price. We always ate at the one on the right side as you're heading back towards the entrance from the Faraway, before you get to the schoolyard, as they served larger portions for cheaper. Others always ate at the next one down, same side, past the school. We usually ate baba (巴巴 bābā) and/or rice noodles (米线 mǐ xiàn) for breakfast, and bought fruit (水果 shuǐ guǒ), yogurt (酸奶 suān nǎi), and peanut snacks (花生酥 huā shēng sū) for lunch. We drank a lot of tea (茶 chá). This came out to around ¥40 per day, divided by two. My wife had no GI issues, but I was hit with several days of diarrhea late in the trip. It didn't affect me much and I have no idea what was causing it.

Lodging
We stayed at the Faraway in a double room (two twin beds) for ¥60 per night. It was next to the river, which we thought was rather relaxing, but some people thought was too loud. The overhead light in our room blinked at night, you have to flush your toilet with a bucket of water, the beds are pretty hard, the power did cut out for awhile a couple times, and the shower is just a metal hose sticking out of the wall. None of this bothered us significantly. No problems with hot water and you can boil it in your room with an electric kettle. The husband (usually the only one there) is a very chill dude, though he doesn't speak much English, and the wife is a great cook that you will hopefully have the pleasure of dining with, though she speaks zero English and is less chill about borrowing without asking and leaving stuff laying around.

Development
There is still so much potential! However, the low-hanging fruit has all been plucked, and what's left will require lots of gardening, long walks, and/or bolts. The first part is covered with tools you can find upstairs in the Faraway or buy in town. The second, well, you'll get used to it. Third, the consensus seems to be stainless steel Powerbolts, at least 1/2"x3.5", with stainless hangers. These will run you roughly $8-12 depending on your source and how many you buy, but PLEASE DON'T SKIMP! The summers are quite wet, and the rock is fairly soft, so non-stainless will rust quickly and shorter bolts may not set well, or worse, may cause catastrophic failure. This is not the Utah desert, but China's premier traditional climbing area! With that said, there is a battery-powered drill and charger at the Faraway, but no drill bits. You can probably get these in Lijiang. Also, please don't follow the established standard of connecting the two anchor bolts with a bit of rope. I don't think I need to explain why this is not an ideal setup from a safety perspective. Maillons, chain, and rap rings should be used to create a redundant and equalized anchor. If you're keen, I have lots of beta photos of good potential lines on the NE side of Dinner Wall, up at One Dragon, and at the Holidays. Message me and I'll send them along.

Anchors
There are essentially two types: tree anchors and bolt anchors. Tree anchors usually consist of a single piece of webbing, rope, or cord with a single maillon or carabiner. Most of these look okay, but obviously will need to be replaced relatively soon. Many could be replaced with bolts, but in situations where they couldn't, you could thread thin rope through the tubular webbing to make a much stronger sling and put a rappel ring on this. Carabiners are less ideal given that the moving parts will rust solid relatively quickly and will eventually wear through at the lower-off point. It would be a great service to replace tree anchors with this kind of setup. Bolt anchors usually consist of two bolts, one higher than the other, with a rope connecting the two, and a single rappel point (either a maillon or a carabiner) on the lower. Replacing the rope with chain and maillons would be a great service. Replacing the rappel point with a nice beefy rap ring would also be nice. As it is, most anchors are essentially non-redundant, given that if a bolt blows, the rope will probably break, and if the single lower-off points breaks, splat. If in doubt, leave a carabiner of your own. Lastly, rope twist is a very prevalent issue because of orientation of the anchors... another reason to create better setups.

Jerry Rules
Take him out with you! Unless you're going to the South Valley. Don't let him near other animals, especially the dog with a gimp leg (may be dead by now), the fat golden retriever near the "campsites", or livestock. He is not to be allowed off-leash, so tie him to a tree when you get to the crag. Be aware of available sun/shade so he can thermoregulate as you thrash on your proj. Bring him whatever leftovers you have as he doesn't get enough to eat, especially protein. He likes to pull, so clip his leash to the belt of your backpack, and stay in front of him when going downhill.

Other notes...

Most ledges still have a lot of looseness laying around. Be careful! And, if possible and safe to do so, trundle whatever isn't big enough to roll down the hill and damage a house.

As a visiting German put it, "If your crack technique is perfect, it's only a little bit hard." Route grading varies wildly, of course due in part to varying body sizes and types, but also due to the lack of feedback to settle the grades at a happy median. I on-sighted 5.10+ and fell on 5.7.

The highest alcohol percentage beer in town is 3.3%. Only two alternatives are wine and bái jiǔ (白酒), a rice liquor.

Sturdy, mid-height shoes with aggressive soles are recommended. Approach shoes work but aren't necessary.

Park entrance fee is ¥105. You shouldn't have to pay it again for the duration of your stay. There may not even be anyone at the gate when you enter, but if they ask and you have some kind of "climbing license" - like ASCA membership card or something - this should get you in for free.

Market day is the 1st, 11th, and 21st of every month. Do not miss this!

It is very dry! Chalk is not necessary. Skin salve is.

Pet the poor husky leashed up in the shack on the left at the fork going south out of town. The pup needs all the loving he can get!
By Mike Dobie
Jun 28, 2017
The Guidebook for Liming is now available and shipping worldwide. This version is fully updated as of 2017 and greatly improved in presentation and rad pictures is inspire stoke. Visit the following website for details on ordering it.

exploreclimbrepeat.com

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