yingde – the next jiulong

It was the last trip before the humidity rotted even out bones, and the vampire mosquitos were swarming, lecherous and insatiable. We didn’t even pack our climbing shoes. Along with Si from Shanghai and our driver turned climbing partner A Biao, we turned left instead of right at the Qingyuan junction, heading for 飞来峡Feilaixia, a gorge, along with a hundred others, also known as 小三峡, the little Three Gorges. This one though, cuts through the Bei Jiang river and can be seen, jutting up out of the river, lurking high above the train to Beijing.

But always the road to Yingde is a difficult one, and today it was not even a road, a ditch into the muddy embankment, a u-turn, a long drive along river-bed roads to be expelled onto highway 106, somewhere inland and far from what we were looking for. But this was an exploratory trip, not a bolt-gun expedition, nor even one to go vertical on.

North of Yingde, along that lethal road to Jiulong, a crop of limestone towers burst from the rice paddy fields. Here, where the road turns into a mockery is a ship’s prow, a supertanker up-ended and submerged, but still vaulting, overhung to the heights of an apartment block. We don’t know its name yet, but it is a monster. 100 or more meters of way-past vertical yellow limestone, one end bearing a tufa dyke running almost half the height like a giant brown worm. It’s the kind of wall you could spend a lifetime being laughed off. And just like Jiulong, it’s one of dozens in the area, though certainly the most seductive.

If the road to Jiulong from here was finished, a mere 50 km away, it’d be part of one enormous climbing area. But the road sucks. 50 km took four hours last time, in a mud bath quagmire of tar pits, quicksand, and sticky liquid goo.

So, no climbing, though an excellent, humid, hot Sunday at Baiyun Shan, and mostly that’s it for the next few weeks. A trip to Hong Kong in three weeks, a couple more to Baiyun Shan… But more importantly, four months of hardcore bolting by Eman, Paul, and the HK climbers, wild enthusiasm for this gem just a short drive from Guangzhou has seen almost forty routes put up i no time. Climbs from short, easy juggy ladders all the way to overhung monsters and multi-pitch dream routes, it’s got it all. The potential for hundreds more is just waiting for cooler weather. It’s also got extremely slutty farm animals, like this water buffalo, who didn’t stop winking and working the camera.