Under many different names but mostly known to us as Kowloon as in what Mongkok is a part of in Hong Kong, the Kowloon here is some two hours north of Guangzhou up the 107 highway, a word I use with most fleeting of accuracy, unless a representation of an elevated highway in mortal collapse is called to mind, although if you happen to take the wrong turn at Qingyaun and find yourself breathless in the quite spectacular Feilaixia Gorge before pulling into Yingde, a highway in this case would be best represented by a quagmire or river bed in spate.
Kowloon is a decidedly non-tourist village with a special hairdresser abutting the preferred lodging of climbers, for besides the infrequent on-the-bus-sleep-off-the-bus-photograph-temples tour group cavalcade passing through en route to the nearby hot springs, this is not a town on any manner of tourist trail. But for imbeciles whose idea of a good time is dropping fridge-sized blocks of limestone into cowering bamboo groves, and who don’t want to go to Yangshou to do it, Kowloon is a rock climbers’ undeveloped paradise.
Highlights of my first trip (via the Yingde river bed) early last year include drenching a family on a motorbike in thick slurry when overtaking too fast then our driver stopping to ask for directions, a reminiscence that will bring a smile to those of us in the car that day. Shortly after. we bottomed out in a pothole, losing the rear bumper, a trifle A Biao solved with a couple of swift kicks. Surprisingly enough, we actually fitted in some climbing.
Paul Collis, who put together the Yangshou guide book has done the same for Kowloon, almost fifty routes trad and sport, single and multi-pitch from 5.7 to 5.13 on limestone. This is still a quite undeveloped place, and many of the routes have had few ascents so are still settling down. The potential is vast, with hundreds of routes yet to be climbed. If your idea of a good climbing trip is going somewhere new and finding your own routes, Kowloon is certainly worth a visit on the China/South-East Asia circuit. Download the guide in pdf here.
The following notes, maps and topos form a rough guide to most of the established climbing in the Kowloon (Nine Dragons) area of Qing Yuan County, Guangdong. This guide was updated in June 2006. The climbing was mostly developed from 2005 to 2006 so grades given may not be accurate and there is still some loose rock around. The rock is typical tropical limestone – dark and quite sharp where exposed to rainfall, lighter, smoother and providing great climbing where sheltered from the elements. The area has beautiful countryside giving a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere for climbing.
See attached maps for how to get to Kowloon and the locations of the cliffs with climbing established on them. It is possible to get to the area using public transport. However this is not recommended as it is infrequent and very time consuming. Without private transport it is also difficult to get to the climbing sites.
Most climbers stay in the town of Kowloon. There are two or three small hotels, some restaurants, a supermarket, a wet market and small shops in Kowloon. It is a basic rural town with little tourism infrastructure. However, some mainland group tours come to the area to visit hot springs and take in the scenery. Take care not to confuse Kowloon in Qing Yuan county with Kowloon in Hong Kong. Although they have the same name, they are vastly different places.
Warning! If you are not a competent climber experienced in pioneering and new routing don’t use this guide to go climbing.