After a successful program in Beijing I jumped an early flight and made my way to Liming. Situated in northern Yunnan province, near both Tibet and Burma, Liming has recently become famous as the "Indian Creek of Asia." Development has been rapid, thanks in part to Mike Dobie and a number of Chinese climbers.
There isn't much in terms of, well anything in Liming, however the Faraway Hotel served as our home base. This place was built with love and creativity. Everything in the joint is some piece of art fashioned from natural materials. On top of that the owners have two dogs, Ding Dong and Jerry, both of which followed us to the crags everyday in search of attention. Recently the Chinese government has deemed Liming a tourist destination, which means tons of Chinese tourists riding around in golf carts for a few hours each day. Evidently when the government decides a place is on the sight seeing list it invests large sums of money into the local area.
|first meal in Liming|
|views weren't to shabby from the room|
|the generals noodles were the best in the land|
My initial impressions rolling into the valley were that of a giddy school boy, nervous excitement. Giant walls of red sandstone just towering over everything, and to cap it all off a giant 5000 meter peak in the distance. There were five of us total here to explore and we quickly set out to climb some of the five star lines. Though there are over 10 crags that have been developed to different extents the most popular by far was the Pillars Area, which is easily access via a staircase and short trail hike from the road. We spent a good portion of our time in this area climbing classics like Faraway Corner (5.11a/b) and Scarface 2 (5.10+). With such a easy approach and large concentration of climbs it was hard to leave........until the climbing festival brought with it giant groups of Korean and Chinese climbers. Though the area is compared to Indian Creek it is more like its slightly strange step brother. The climbs are shorter and many are not as clean or aesthetic as the creek, which gives it a personality all its own.
|Add on Faraway Corner 5.11a/b|
|Gee on an unnamed 5.11 at the Pillars Area|
One of the most aesthetic and intimidating lines at the Pillars area was Clamdigger (5.11). Mario and Add saved it for the last day due to rumors of extreme exertion and skin loss...... Watching both of them climb it really gave insight into the depths of human suffering and determination. Fortunately only one of Mario's knees was completely raw after the climb......
|Mario Clamdigging (5.11)|
|after-math of Clamdigger|
|Add on The Great Owl 5.9|
Locals used to construct wooden ladders to harvest the birds nests on the cliff side, a bit insane but hey if the soup is good it must be worth it. Even the oldest locals don't remember a time when this ladder was in use, which probably means it's bomber right?
We all had to learn quick and adapt to the sandstone cracks. After a few days of getting used to the stone it became easier to chase down projects and beautiful lines. We even explored the Cave Area just above town, which has some extremely classic lines like Soul's Awakening and Wind of the Valley. Just a heads up about the caterpillars in the area, they sting! All the little hairs on their back will get stuck into your skin and cause a reaction, Noah had to learn that the hard way.
|like a 5.5 crack / ladder climb|
|itchy little buggers|
|Mario working DeDongs Crack|
|Add cruising up Wind of the Valley|
The only other crag we hit up was The Guardian. It took a bit of route finding but the climbs here were pretty awesome. Super clean and tons of long hard climbs in the 5.11+ range. Unfortunately a Spanish climber was bitten by a dog on the approach, so watch out!
|Ooan and Gee at the Guardian Crag|
|Angus and Noah on a dirty 5.8 pitch|
|early mornings with Jerry and Add|
Turns out you can't climb everyday in Liming, primarily because you either have no skin left or explosive diarrhea (or both!). We ended up spending most of our rest days checking out the monthly market and hiking up to 1000 Turtle Mountain. Another great tip: check your beer caps, nearly one in four is a winner, which means if you keep winning you keep getting free beer.
|homemade bai jo (aka paint thinner)|
|1000 Turtle Mountain|
Our trip to Liming also coincided with the 3rd Annual Liming Climbing Festival. Tons of people rolled into town, mostly from China and Korea. Black Diamond also sponsored the event so they sent their Zhuhai production team, as well as Jonathan Thesenga and Brittany Griffith. Also in town was Mike Dobie, the local developer which some of us had met a few years ago. Mike was super humble about everything he has been doing for Chinese climbing and tried to stay out of the spot light when possible. The highlight of the night was the free bbq pork intestines (mmm food poisoning) and a "lucky draw,"aka the Chinese name for raffle. The funny thing about Chinese climbers is that they are all middle class, well off dudes. In fact almost everyone we saw was already wearing brand new gear. It makes sense as the Chinese middle class grows in wealth they are obviously going to get into things that formerly were inaccessible, and it is cool to see.
|bunch of famous people|
One morning we were saved by a British expat named Ruben with fresh coffee and cake at a makeshift street stall (unfortunately every time I talked to him afterward all I could think of was a big reuben sandwich, but I digress). He had been living in Kunming for a few years and had plans to open a hostel in Liming for climbers. Hopefully next time I end up there he will have everything up and running.
|Jonathan Thesenga and Brittany Griffith chillin at Ruben's Cafe|
|last day out......we brought brews|
|caught a ride on Mike Dobie's sweet trike|
The trip went swimmingly well. We all learned how to crack climb in a beautiful remote part of China. Beers were drank, food eaten, skin lost, and joy had. Can't wait for the next round!