We’ve been here in China for exactly one week and despite what I worried about for the first couple of days we got here, it has flown by. That’s right when confronted with the reality of smelly quarters, cold showers, first days of cloudy skies and drizzly rain, my severely jet-lagged self started to say, “Hum, OK, is it over yet?” Luckily it only took a few sleeping pill induced nights, immediate love of the local cuisine and one look at the “out-of-control-would-only-exist-in-China” limestone caves, to start really having fun and start seeing our time slip away before my eyes. Almost every night has been filled with movies events, slideshows, impromptu dance parties and mingling with a melting pot of bad-ass athletes from all over the world. I’m a social one through-and-through, so these kinds of events keep me psyched for days.
We’re spending most of our climbing days at the impressive Arch feature found 6,782 steps above the valley floor. The climbing in the arch is different than the rest of the valley. It’s filled with slippery-sloppery holds, and crazy under-clings that turn your back into tight ball of over used muscles. Multi-pitches line the outside walls of the cave and make for an impressive day of climbing up stalactites and dream like tufa features. I conned my buddy Ethan Pringle to take me up a fun easier multi-pitch the other day, a feat which I rarely embark on. Getting so high above the valley floor was incredible and a definitely highlight of the trip for me. In general all the athletes have been throwing themselves and a slew of harder climbs, and 8a on-sites are a daily event, while yesterday alone I saw 8b+ and 8c sends as well as Gabri Maroni’s impressive 9a first ascent of the ultimate route he named Coup d’ Baboo. We still have about one week to go. This time around I’m going to be sad to see it go.