A week ago I left a perfect October in Yosemite for an epic trip to China, to partake in the Petzl Roctrip in the Getu Valley. What a crazy contrast, after about 40 hours of travel I ended up in rural China, staying in a tiny village surrounded by an amazing amount of incredible limestone walls.
My season in Yosemite was capped off with a free ascent of Free Rider in a day. Niels and I started at 12am and both freed the route, swinging leads and simul-climbing. Everything flowed perfectly, we moved quickly and efficiently, arriving at the crux boulder problem just after daybreak in perfect conditions, and very unexpectedly, both sent it first try. Now it was all on - we knew we could do it from there, it was just a matter of sustaining the energy to keep going... so with adrenalin charging through our veins, we pushed on through the next strenuous pitches, barely pausing anywhere. It was a surreal feeling reaching the summit at just past 2pm, after climbing for 14 hours, carrying nothing other than a jacket and a small water bottle. This was Niels' first free ascent of El Capitan, and I managed to climb the entire route without a single fall, becoming the first New Zealander to climb the Capitan in a day and making the fastest free female ascent of El Capitan. There could not have been a more perfect way to end my time in the Valley.
So now I am in China, not understanding a word, eating noodles, walking through terraced rice fields and bamboo plantations to get to the most incredible limestone features I have ever seen. A huge arch, several hundred meters tall, littered with stalactites and some of the most incredible, diverse climbing I have encountered. From crazily sculpted rock, with powerful climbing on super slick slopers, to three dimensional climbing through upside-down forests of tufas. This was my first time at a Roctrip, and I was a little intimidated, however, the vibe has been really good and it has been super fun climbing with so many strong psyched people from all over the world.
One of the highlights for me was heading up one of the classics of the crag with Lynn Hill. "Lost in Translation" 5.13a is a four pitch route which takes an impressive line through the right hand side of the arch. It was incredible doing a multi-pitch route on such steep terrain. Luckily the route had been equipped with suspended bamboo seats at each belay. The roctrip was super busy and now it is nice to have another week to climb with the Five Ten athletes and less people around.