UK Climbers Return from China Exchange

Lindsay Griffin, Nick Williams, John Dunne, and Steve McClure have returned from China having taken up an invitation from the Chinese Mountaineering Federation to raise the profile of the potential for climbing in country. The team visited two areas, an extensive granite area north of Beijing, and the limestone area of Guilin in the south. The team found the granite to be of quite poor quality, but John Dunne and Steve McClure did find an excellent crack climb, which they top-roped at f8a, but did not have time to equip. The team then took an internal flight to the south, and the amazing limestone towers of Guilin, previously visited by Todd Skinner who left behind an 8a+ route. Todd´s route has since lost some big holds, one particularly large hold broke off much to Dunne´s surprise, as he was holding it at the time. Not to be outdone, McClure worked the route and redpointed it, suggesting a new grade of 8b, and no-doubt the hardest rock climb in China. Steve then went on to bolt another line, at a similar standard, but unfortunately did not have the time to redpoint it.The area certainly left the team in no doubt as to its huge potential, but will require a major effort to develop. Currently there are only around thirty routes, mostly in the 6a – 7a+ range, and a much larger spread of grades will be required to put the area on the climbing map, as the Chinese are hoping. The problem the Chinese face is that the local climbers have not yet developed the ability to climb harder than f7b (despite the fact that they are incredibly strong), and it will require a significant influx of foreign climbers, in a similar way to how climbing was developed in Thailand. In general, an excellent trip was had, and the British team found the Chinese to be hospitable and friendly.