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jiulong super-crag

Jiulong turned into a bit of a tourist town this weekend. Three carloads of climbers plus a few others ate a hotel out of food, drank most of the beer, and generally provided street-side entertainment. It’s May 1st Workers Day, and the start of Golden Week, which means most of China is on a train and the rest are spending every cent they can purloin. So between the several groups and families of Chinese tourists, and some fifteen dirty climbers, Jiulong was slapping down that upstart Disney Theme Park, wanna-be Krabbi, Yangshou.

The whole weekend was spent variously drilling into bits of rock, pulling off other loose bits, and famously riding a fridge-sized missile as it detached itself (with the help of a few swift hammer-strokes) and rained destruction on the belay spot below. Just like Slim Pikkins in Dr Strangelove riding the nuke like a roped steer down into Russia.

So now there are three routes where the main car driver was first coaxed into a harness and up a cliff. Driver’s Crack (5.8 trad) follows the obvious left-facing central corner crack through some gloriously funky moves, lots of balancey stuff finishing with the perfect hand-jam. And I do mean perfect. It still needs the dirt hosed from some of the crack, but what a fine climb with a second pitch waiting to be done

Left from that is Frenzy (5.9 sport) which goes up the slight crack system to finish at the overhanging ledge. Another fine climb from Yangshou serial-bolter Paul. I spent the remainder of Saturday hanging on the belay and drilling my first bolts while Paul delivered the fridge to its new home.

Sunday was a hell-storm all night, lighting knocked out the power and the Biblical downpoar had me dreaming of a lazy sleep-in. Not bloody likely. The rain stopped, the sun came out – yup blue sky in Guangdong Province, and we schlepped through town eating before heading back to the main wall two minutes from town.

Thief (5.10a sport) is living up to it’s name, being repeatedly stolen or attempted to in various weird circumstances which the Jiulong Ethics Committee are still deciding on appropriate punishments for. Eman bolted his new route to the right of Thief, which saw a rapid first ascent, turning an overhanging face into a high-stepping slab in very fine style. Then saw the whipper of the day, from the same point, when another attempt went south very fast

So once the bolting was complete, and me in a strangely new headspace when it comes to climbing, it was time for me to lead Thief, which as far as I know should be at about my climbing limit and several grades beyond what I’ve led before. But for some reason, it was a joy, the crux a bluntly cleaved bulge with a massive undercling and reach for a slippery rail, while smearing on a not-too-trustworthy dish. Climbing nirvana.

Later, Si from Beijing who hasn’t really climbed more than two days got the over-achiever award for getting through that technical move by dyno-ing it. Completely fearless and totally natural.

So, more food and beer in town, a quick sorting of gear then drive south into the black heart of Mordor, where the sky churned a jaundiced yellow stained like the worn fingers of an emphysemic smoker, then ruptured blacker than night and opened its belly with vast floods of rain and lighting scarring the pitch.

Others remained to climb all week throwing up lots of new routes and beginning – haha yup already – the Jiulong/Huanghua climbing guidebook. More are going up next weekend and the following one a plague of locusts from Hong Kong are descending.