‘Made in Yangshuo’, the fifth episode of the Elemental Journeys series, explores the rapidly evolving climbing community that dwell beneath the towering karst pinnacles of Southern China.
According to American climber Andrew Hadesh, there is no place like Yangshuo on Earth. He should know, he wrote the guidebook. Nestled below the towering karst pinnacles of Southern China, the town itself is the birth of Chinese rock climbing, and remains it’s soul. Much has changed for Yangshuo, and the sport climbing scene has skyrocketed, with the unique towers and arches now internationally recognised for their aesthetic and ergonomic climbing quality. But at the heart of the Chinese climbing scene is it’s people, and the story of how a lesser known village surrounded by rice paddies became the Chamonix of Asia, albeit with bolts instead of ice screws.
Abond and Ting, two of the strongest climbers in Asia, have made this place their home. They split their time between the many world class sport crags that the area has to offer and the bar that they setup in town, complete with a custom bouldering wall and training venue alongside the beer fridge and pool table. But outside of the hustle and bustle of the city, there is still adventure to be found in Yangshuo. Much of the climbing within a fifteen kilometre radius has been developed, but hundreds of crags and thousands of potential lines remain untouched. Two local climbers, DaWei and Jack, are on a mission to establish routes further afield, spoilt for choice as they hunt out the prime lines before the crowds start travelling from the world over to snatch them up. But the local’s embrace the change and the increasing number of visiting climbers, and look forward to the area expanding and growing. The way they see it, the more routes that get established, the more there is to climb. As Ting puts it “this isn’t our secret any more…”