Update #2 from Ethan on our trip to Yangshuo, China.
Hello fivetenies! Today marks the two-week countdown to the end of our trip to Yangshuo, China. The trip so far has had some ups and downs, some peaks and troughs, some highs and lows, as all trips do. The one thing that has stuck in the forefront of our collective consciousness is that the climbing here is really, really good.
We've had some fun and productive days at cliffs Lei Pi Shan, Moon Hill, Odin's Den and of course White Mountain. So far we've set our sights on ticking off the hardest, most classic lines at each area and we've been pretty darned successful in doing so. I think the only established 5.13s and 5.14s we haven't done are the uber-classic 9 Deep One Shallow (13d) at the Banyan Tree cliff, one or two obscure lines at Lei Pi Shan, a couple at White Mountain and a couple at the dirt-covered Riverside... Cleaning House!
On Tuesday we went to White Mountain, which is pretty much the premier cliff in the Yangshuo area, despite the fact that everyone was still recovering from a serious bout of food poisoning. Conditions were the best we've felt all trip-- cold, breezy and overcast-- and sending was in the air... as well as a slight stench of burning garbage. I was able to complete what most think is China's most difficult rock-face challenge, Spicy Noodle, on my second try of the day, which added up to four tries total. Checking in around 8c+ (5.14c), this bouldery, resistance test piece has everything I love about limestone-- pockets, incut crimps, huecos and tufas-- and the wall is steep! So Cool. I think the route is one of my favorite hard routes I've ever done on limestone, ever.
Keller also satched up the majestic Blue Magic (13d/14a) on his second try of the day, after only a few tries on the route at the beginning of the trip. Blue Magic is another stellar route that climbs the wall to the left of Spicy Noodle up huecos and pockets, on bullet stone. The moves are really fun and the holds are all comfortable. Our friend Cam got really close to finishing up the Classic 35 meter 12b Yangshuo Hotel, but pumped off before the chains.
On Tuesday night I went and got a Chinese massage from a very nice lady I met through Canadian friends Scott and Sandra. After the massage, which was quite enjoyable, but different than the bodywork I'm used to getting back home, I had my first Hot Cupping experience. For those who don't know what hot cupping is, look it up! It was a little painful at first, then your body relaxes with about 15 cups suctioned to your back and you can feel the toxins leaving your body and you end up on cloud 9, just flying high! After the cups came off though, my back was all bruised and I looked like an alien abduction victim. Warning: it's not advisable to try hot cupping at home without the supervision of an expert!
Ok back to the climbing. So Yesterday was another cold and crisp day and we decided to go back to Lei Pi Shan so that Keller could finish up his project there, Thunder (14a). I was able to make a first try ascent of Thunder at the beginning of our trip, but throughout the crux of Thunder there are some huge moves, and for Keller being less than 5'8", the moves are at his max extension. Keller came very close to sending on his 3rd attempt on a previous day, in the throws of the food poisoning, but his foot slipped on an easier move up high on the route, so yesterday he was there to take care of business. Keller fought through the route, scream after manly scream, all the way to the chains, after a warm up burn, and got 'er done with plenty of daylight to spare! I found a new project at Le Pi way down on the left side of the cliff- a really bouldery, powerful, and severely overhung route that gets a measly 7c (12d) grade in the guide, but felt more like 13d or even 14a to me! After not having done many powerful routes in the past few weeks, I was psyched to find one to do that was this style.
The trip hasn't been all sending and sunshine. Keller, Cam and Josh all witnessed Doggies and Kitties Get slaughtered at a market for food, I saw a stray dog get whacked by a car and writhe on the ground, and we all got food poisoning for a week. There were also a few periods of weather way to hot to climb the hardest routes in the area... but the temps have dropped significantly in the last few days, the projects are open and there are drills and bolting equipment available for us to use somewhere in this town, so... it's on!
PS. My new Blackwings are working perfectly for the steep rock here! Love these shoes!