Posts Tagged ‘Abond’

Just because you’re climbing in a world-class destination doesn’t make you a world-class climber.

I’m getting my ass handed to me in 阳朔 (Yang Shuo), and I’m loving every minute of it. Steep, featured limestone at a 15-30 degree overhang is not a good place to warm up when I haven’t climbed since the 16th of July. But the stone here demands it. Crazy tufas and drip features litter the wall, and huecos big enough to sleep in (minus the bird poop) are exciting beyond measure.

阿邦 (Abond) is arguably China’s strongest climber, and one of the few to be sponsored by western companies such as Black Diamond and La Sportiva. Passionate about his self-proclaimed job of developing 阳朔 and bringing others to climb here, he’s a great example of a climbing obsession gone right. Every day, 阿邦 wakes up at around 10 am, spends the morning taking care of chores around the Rock Abond Inn, then leaves for the crag around 2 pm when the day finally cools off. The lifestyle certainly suits him, with sends of up to 5.14c (Spicy Noodle, 白山 (White Mountain)) under his belt. He graciously asked if I wanted to join him and his crew, and I was quick to accept.

For the first two days, we climbed out at 雷劈山 (Lei Pi Mountain). First thing I saw when approaching the wall was a 12 year-old kid from 广州 (Guang Zhou) sending 5.13a, leading me to realize that the Chinese climbing scene is much more developed than I ever could have imagined. People climb on old harnesses and fat 10.8mm ropes, but have an ability to crank like their lives depend on it. My aspirations were high, and I was excited to get back on the wall.

12 year-olds climbing .13a

Starting out on a mellow .10a, I quickly realized that 95 degree weather in 80 percent humidity demands much more water intake than I had been drinking. I clipped the draws, slumped into my harness, and began the dry heaves. A splitter headache and 1 liter of water later, I managed to get my shoes off and untie my knot without throwing up. I tried two other routes after that, and couldn’t even make it up past the 4th clip. We returned to the same crag the next day, and I got repeatedly shut down on a .11c, even after chugging 3 liters of water that morning. Being completely out of shape, the thuggy and powerful climbing was completely shutting me down. Although success was yet to be found, I was still having a great time.

雷劈山 - Leipi Mountain

Tufas and drips

Then yesterday, we made it out to 白山 (White Mountain), and everything changed. It’s hard not to get inspired with a 60 meters high and 200 meters long wall of perfect limestone in front of you. The climbing here is of a much more technical nature, leading to thought provoking and committing moves. Somehow, my fingers finally found their strength again. I flashed up most of an awesome .12b called Yang Shuo Hotel, before falling 4 clips from the top of the 17-clip, 34 meter monster. I’ll be back tomorrow to send for sure. Abond made quick work of 青岛啤酒 (Tsing Tao Beer, 5.13a) before sussing out the clips of French Gangster (5.14a).

The monstrosity that is 白山. Yang Shuo Hotel climbs into the double huecos just to the right of center, and up another 30 feet.

白山 is about 20 minutes out of 阳朔, and is surrounded by farmland. Cucumbers and eggplant grow on vines right next to the cliff, and water buffalo watch us climb from a stream a few hundred feet away. The scene is incredibly picturesque, though also comes with some controversy. With an increasing number of climbers congregating at the crag, some of the less considerate have been trampling through the farmers’ fields, and driving across their pastures. Farmers have responded in kind by chopping or hammering flat many bolts accessible from the ground, resulting in many pitches where the first bolt isn’t until 20 feet. Only by the dedication of Abond and other dedicated locals has access been preserved, and hopefully it will stay this way for years to come.

Flattened bolt hangers

A man and his buffalo


Use the trail!

After three days on, it’s finally time for a well deserved rest. I feel right at home in China, so the tourist traps of cooking classes and souvenir stands are a little lost on me. I’ve spent most of my time wandering through he wet markets, writing on my blog, and watching climbing videos in the hostel lounge. And mostly, praying for sending temps tomorrow, though the forecast still calls for 94 degrees.


As always, full-sized photos and more can be found on my Flickr stream.