Climbing the Limestone Karst Towers of Yangshuo

Caroline in Green

The fabled land of limestone karsts towering abruptly from ancient rice fields, Yangshuo is the archetypal image of China.  The place is renowned amongst global travelers for its classic beauty, and amongst the smaller world of climbers it is known for its world-class sport climbing.  We came for a little of both.

Drying rice in the sun

Throughout our China travels, many of the fellow travelers we encountered considered the bike ride through the exotic countryside of Yangshuo to be amongst their favorite China experiences.

Limestone karsts

Black Diamond sponsors a local climber named Abon, one of China’s strongest.  His prowess on the rock has now earned him tickets to climbing events throughout the world.  He was kind enough to lend us a rope and some quick-draws while we were in town so that we could spend time out at the crags.

As always, a favorite aspect of mountain-sport is the way it draws you off of the travelled path and deeper in to the experience of a place.  Following a climbing treasure map, we rode our bikes into a small farming village, pushed them along rice-paddy trails, and eventually carried them through the thicket to arrive at the base of a limestone tower.  Once there, we encountered more of the local climbing crew.  It was cool to see how similar they were to the rest of the underground climbing world, despite the huge differences in surrounding culture.

We climbed for several days in the stark countryside, clinging to limestone towers surrounded by rural farmland, complete with little bent-over farm ladies chasing their water buffalo through the rice paddies!

Scouting climbing routes in Yangshuo

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