Monday, March 2, 2015

Liming, China.

I arrived back from my overseas adventures and found myself in the Blue Mountains again. I assumed I would find a job and spend a lot more time in Oz basing myself in the mountains but that was not to be. After a half-hearted effort to find work it was obvious there was nothing around with the whole exploration geology industry falling in a heap. Many friends were made redundant and hadn’t had any luck finding new positions.  I continued to climb sending my latest project at the new crag called The Pit in the Blue Mountains. After some joking around the name Ebola Noodles was decided on.  It’s meant to be stupid.
Ebola Noodles. Very bouldery. Photo: William Chan.
I flew back to Perth for Christmas with the family and continued to send out resumes. It never takes long for me to be back in Oz before plans start to hatch and this time it was no different. During previous trips to China I had heard about a new traditional climbing mecca called Liming and had always wanted to go. The problem is it isn’t very user friendly yet with the language barrier and an epic amount of travel required.  Luckily for me I heard Mike Dobie, the main developer of Liming and guidebook author was travelling around Oz and would be heading back to Liming for February and March. I convinced myself that no work meant I should live cheap and go climbing. Soon enough I was back in the Blue Mountains hanging out with Mike and with the same flight to China.

The travel was epic. We could have flown straight to Lijiang in the Yunnan province but instead we travelled overland from Hong Kong via Yangshuo. After flying Sydney-Singapore-Hong Kong we caught a bus and train to the border of China Mainland and then a night bus to Yangshuo.  We spent a couple of days climbing in Yangshuo where I picked up a box of new gear from Kailas and had a quick go of Chinaclimb 8c. Chinaclimb is a route of significance for me as I bolted it at the end of my first visit to Yangshuo but never really got to try it. My friend Liu Yongbang (Abond) sent it creating Chinas first 8c. It’s a great line and I hope to be back to send it one day.
I managed to fit in this great climb on the right side of White Mountain during
the quick visit. Unsure of the name or grade. Photo: Andrew Hedesh.
A bus to Guilin, night train to Kunming, a day in a café, a night train to Lijiang, bus to a hostel where Tracy the trike was stored and then a 3 hour ride in the back of the trike. Finally I laid eyes on the cliffs of Liming.  The travel was worth it.  In front of me were massive sandstone buttresses with endless potential, an adventure climbers paradise.
The Faraway Hotel. Our palace for the trip. 
I generally always have goals when I travel to a climbing destination and this trip it was all about the hardest route in the area and first ascents.  The hardest route is called Air China and was put up by Matt Segal over a few weeks in 2011. He tried to make it all traditional but after taking a huge fall due to his protection pulling from the rock breaking he decided to put in a bolt. You can read about it here Matt gave it 5.13d R. Now that the route has received some attention the experience it gives has changed. Holds have come off the easier initial crack section meaning you are a little more tired entering the crux but the chalk, the fact that the bomber gear placement before the run out to the crux has been fallen on without breaking, and the knowledge the route has been done makes everything easier on the body and mind.  The route is still a bit heady to lead as it is insecure with very slippery feet even in clipping positions but it probably doesn’t deserve an R rating. I never took the fall from the bolt without clipping but I am sure it is safe. It does however still feel like a traditional pitch. I worked the route for about two weeks in headpoint style. That means I top roped it until I had done it without falling (10 shots) and then only had to lead it 4 or so times placing each time until I sent it. It felt good to get this one out of the way as I felt it was necessary before I could go on to put up harder routes in the area.
The not so bad runout on Air China. The bolt is just above my head. Last bit of gear is a
yellow cam a third of the way up the picture. The climbing and clip is insecure though.
The crux move is just below this involving compression between
the arete and some small crimps on the left while having no feet. This and photos below: Alexa Flower.

During our time working Air China, Mike had injured his shoulder. Your right arm takes a lot of strain holding the arête during the crux. We decided to mix things up a bit and try a route equipped by some Swedish climbers earlier in the season. They had found a long corner of clean red sandstone, which went on gear except for a short section where the crack in the corner was fused and unusable. They placed two bolts here along with an anchor at the top. Mike and I had to pull out all the tricks to work out how to climb the corner with no crack and no holds. It came down to very poor foot smears and push-pulling on either side of the corner. Above this was easier climbing ending with a final crux section of endurance crimp laybacking. I managed to get the first free ascent at roughly 5.13a and kept the name the Swedish climbers had given, Symphonie de Liberte.

The trip is over half way over and I keep getting distracted by new route potential. I wanted to focus on something really hard but these things take time and my time is running out. Mike and I are trying to aid up a wall that has never been climbed. It is dirty and the rock is soft. There is increase in mental difficulty due to the fact the route hasn’t been travelled before and we are not sure if it will be doable. Once done and cleaned it will probably be a classic mid grade route. Hopefully I can put some time into trying one of the harder already cleaned cracks as well. 2 weeks left...
Mike and I aiding our way up the unclimbed wall of the Diamond. Photo: Leah Pappajohn.
The main street of Liming with the Diamond in the distance.
The Diamond above Liming. Photo: Alexa Flower.


1 comment:

Jane Climber said...

Thanks for wearing helmet. You have set a positive example.