Destination – Hong Kong

When one thinks of Hong Kong, images of towering glass and metal, not rock come to mind. Having been to Hong Kong many times in the past, it was only during my last trip in April that I discovered what I had been missing all these years. It’s so easy to hear all the negatives; Hong Kong is cramped, crowded, noisy, overpopulated.

Thanks, Google, for the kind welcome. Prior to going to HK with Google Now I was unaware the below card existed. The more you know.

That said; You’re not looking hard enough.

As a climber with a passion for (cheap!) travel, this is probably one of the best places to base yourself. There is an abundance of local crags, all within 10-15 minutes of the local subway MTR station, or an entire island, accessible only by ferry. It’s truly a bizarre dichotomy of worlds when you can have breakfast in the bustling city, jump off a train and walk 15 minutes, and be up at the crag within the hour. The après climb locations have you spoilt for choice – you can be back anywhere in the city in time for dinner. Shops and bars close well into the night, too, if the typical tourist itinerary must be satiated.

I flew in on a Friday in April (Spring!), and managed to sample the best of the Hong Kong crags. From Hong Kong Island, to the Kowloon mainland (and a small climbing paradise island in between the two) – it’s possible to say that some of the most accessible, enjoyable climbing exists here. Sure we have the Blueys, good little crags inside of Sydney, Nowra, Point Perp (and perhaps Canberra…) – but these are all at least 40 minutes drive. It’s tough to beat taking public transport to the crag.

Climbing company was awesome – many thanks and much appreciation to friends that took scant annual leave days and shared their hospitality (and house!) with me! I can’t wait to get back…

Routes attempted… (some ticked, too.). It was too short of a trip to try and project anything serious, and I wanted to have as much of a wide variety and sample as possible. Nevertheless, I’m pretty happy with the things I managed to struggle up.

Central Crag, Hong Kong

  • Dogged my way up “Lan Kwai Fong” – a seemingly apt name for a route that gave away nothing, and sucked the strength from me quickly.
  • Didn’t peel off “Peel Street” – a nice onsight.
  • La dolce Vita, a life of pleasure in a route. 6c – Dogged a few times. Best climb of the day. Jetlag blues…

Black Links Road Crag, Hong Kong

  • Numerous 5c/17 warmups.
  • Gonz’s 24 project – The Missing Link
  • Something easy to warm down. Granite is rough on the skin, and we had dinner waiting at the michelin starred “Tim Ho Wan”. Don’t be fooled, it was nothing special and there are plenty of non-famous equally/more tasty dimsum joints. Sydney’s one is an over priced rip off, though.

Beacon Hill, Kowloon

  • Warmup x3 – this is deceptive, as it was ~25+ degrees and rather warm already. Stick clips should be more widely used though.
  • Moon Night’s Snake – a neat climb, with an accompanying photographers platform (think Kachoong) to get a cool shot of a climber, no feet dyno, and the city in the background. Worth it for the shot alone.

Tung Lung Chau (Chau == Island)

The best till last. Route quality here was awesome, I found the rock stellar and easy to read. Bring your swimmers, and your favourite über strong climber to help you hang the draws, because you want to onsight as much as you can to try as much as possible.

  • Warmup x2 on things that I struggled up 2 years ago. I claim the amnesia onsight because I had just started climbing then and had no idea what was going on. I have (slightly) more of an idea now, I think.
  • “The Corner”. People were not imaginative when they named these routes. “Small roof”, “Big Hand”, but the corner is a (bolted, sorry) crack in a dihedral. My nemesis for the day. Almost a sister route to the beginning “Harold Would Go” back home.
  • Had a final shot at “Bad Girl” (!?! these names!) – but the island is an interesting place where the longer you wait, the more sea spray gets on the rocks. Nothing was accomplished apart from getting salt everywhere.
  • Cleaned the draws off one of the warmup routes. Had an epic and it took 30+ minutes because every hold became a salt encrusted slip’n’slide.

If you find me on TheCrag there are better descriptions/comments for routes if you’re visiting. The current most up to date English guide is HongKongClimbing.

Overall though, I can’t ask for more out of the 5 days I spent in HK. There was ample time for climbing, the weather was awesome, and best of all got to meet up with many friendly faces. The awesome food, too, was a bonus. I don’t think it fully set in that this would be my last asian food pit-stop for over a month…. but Europe will be another blog post.

Until then, enjoy the rest of the photos: