Friday, November 11, 2011

The Petzl RocTrip China

I managed to organise another 2 weeks break from work and decided to go to the Petzl Roctrip mainly because for once it was on this side of the world and being in China i knew alot of the people attending. A large contingent of people from Yangshuo where i had previously worked were going as well as a bunch of friends i knew from climbing elsewhere in the world. The event itself was only officially four days long but most people went planning to spend a week or two there. The Roctrip is similar to the RipCurl Pro Search surfing event in that it is based in a new area around the world each year generally helping to open them up to the crowds through development and awareness. This year it was in the Getu Valley, China which is accessed through a poor rural village. It was amazing to see the contrast between the poor local farmers and the international climbers. I am not sure the locals ever figured out exactly what was going on but hopefully the cash injection into the village from their hospitality helps them out alot.

The Getu Valley itself is the typical karst limestone landscape seen everywhere in southern China and down through Vietnam, Laos, Thailand etc. with one major exception... The Great Arch. This amazing feature sits high up on a hill and is internally about 100m wide, 80m high and 150m long. On a clear day the sun rises shining a beam of light through the arch into the Getu valley.
The climbs in the area had been equipped over the last couple of seasons and you could tell they hadnt had much traffic. A thin layer of dust on the holds and loose rock were common and i couldnt help but think that although the setting was beyond amazing the quality of the routes wasnt quite as good as those found in Yangshuo. Despite this i did do some amazing routes in the grade 27-29 range almost all of which were a grade or two overgraded. The best part of the trip was definitely watching and talking to some of the best climbers in the world. The main thing i noticed that sets them apart wasnt their strength but their fitness. Its the kind of fitness you can only achieve by climbing full time.
So now after meeting cool climbers from all around the world, a quick culture immersion and being exposed to the lifestyles of full time climbers i am back at work and training hard with renewed motivation.

Steve McClure onsighting a 7c+/28. All the pockets were slopers with many hidden holds.

Dani Andrada belayed by Chris Sharma on an 8 pitch 8c/33.

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