The Climbing Histroy of Yangshuo
Yangshuo is basically a sport climbing area. Most of the routes are single-pitch routes. There are a handful of multi-pitch routes by which you can get to the summit of a limestone tower.
Sport climbing in Yangshuo dates back to 1986, when Germans Wolfgang Güllich and Kurt Albert and Austrians Heinz Zak and Ingrid Reitenspieß ventured into China to discover the hidden secrets of the East. A year later Andrea Gallo, Andrée Van Lierde and Michele Radici set foot in the area and even made a climbing film entitled “Acqua, Nuvole e Picchi” while in 1990, Todd Skinner, together with some fellow Americans, bolted the incredible natural arch called Moon Hill and created some spectacular routes that crossed the length of the arch. Additional routes were put up by traveling climbers over the next several years but things didn’t really take off until the next millennium when there was an explosion of new development. Just about any kind of climb can be found here now, from slabs to overhangs, single to multi-pitch, beginner romps to 5.15’s as of Sharma’s visit in 2009. The potential for new development is almost limitless. There are currently around 50 crags and roughly 800 climbs in the guidebook and more are being put up every month.
The rock is typical tropical limestone: dark and quite sharp where exposed to rainfall and lighter white and orange pocketed rock that is smoother and providing great climbing where sheltered from the elements.
Most routes are around 20 to 25m high, a 60m rope is suitable for nearly all single-pitch routes. But a few single pitches are more than 30m in length. It’s best to check the route length in the guide book before you climb.
Yangshuo is located in the Guangxi province and has a subtropical climate. Climbing here is possible all year round, although winter can be quite wet and cold while summer is usually hot and rainy. The best months to climb are March through May and September through mid-December. Rain will certainly be an issue, but if you can climb higher grade routes and steep walls, there are plenty of crags that stay dry even in downpours.
Crags in Yangshuo
Swiss Cheese Wall
Swiss Cheese Wall is the most popular crag for beginners and local climbing clubs. It’s a nice little crag comprised of two walls offering single-pitch climbs over a wide range of grades with easy access. Bamboo groves located at the base of the crag offer all day shade for belaying and relaxing. The original Right Hand Wall has climbs in the lower to intermediate grades; The Left Hand Wall provides more difficult climbs on a steep wall.
Wine Bottle Crag
Wine Bottle is one of the all around most popular climbing areas in Yangshuo with the easiest and quickest access. This is a truly impressive wall situated across from the Butterfly Spring tourist attraction easily identifiable by the 30-foot butterfly sculpture on the side of a limestone tower. Frequent buses drop you right in front of the trailhead, within a 10-minute from the crag. However, it’s far enough from the busy road so you can really focus on climbing, and most importantly there are many interesting/classic routes with different grades and lengths to choose from.
Transport:10 mins on a local bus for RMB 3 one way (Taxi Van for RMB 35 one way). Bikes can also be rented (RMB 10-30) for the 25 mins cycle ride to the crag.
Baby Frog Buttress
Although we really like this crag, it is less visited by other climbing groups because it’s a bit more remote. Half a dozen varied routes, all perfect for beginners, will test your mettle. A trip to Baby Frog Buttress offers a thoroughly rewarding day away from other tourists. Situated on the Yu Long River, the nearby rafting and swimming are a good way to cool off after a hard day in the sun. We highly recommend this crag for beginners.
Another popular and impressive crag which can make for a fantastic day out is Twin Gates. Enjoy Yangshuo scenery at its best and hide from the sun in a massive cool cave. After a hot day’s climbing, you can take a two minutes’ walk to the north of the crag to go swimming and watch the tourists go by on bamboo rafts in the YuLong river.
This is a good place for days with occasional showers as well because most of the routes stay out of the rain and the rock dries quickly in light rain. There are also two caves with tables and chairs permanantly available to place your gear on or lounge in out of the rain or sun.
Thumb Peak is a secluded little spot not far from the main road. It is just beyond and opposite of Wine Bottle Crag. It offers some of the best multi-pitch routes in Yangshuo as well as a number of single-pitch routes. Here, you can choose from five diifferent multi-pitch routes for more experienced climbers. A few of the lines require traditional protection, and if you bring trad gear, you should top out just to get the view from the top. For beginners, however, the ‘Chimney’ offers a fun warm-up that will have you twisting and turning, followed by a more problematic challenge on ‘Technical Exercise’. Round the day off with a varied and interesting climb up the first pitch of ‘Paparazzi Pete’. The crux feels both committing and rewarding.
Low Mountain is another location with awesome scenery. As well as some fine beginner to intermediate grade multi-pitch routes. It boasts a couple of easy climbs ideal for beginners. Good rest stances along the routes means that you won’t get tired too quickly. Just to add to the fun, one route even begins with a bit of a tree climb that leads to climbing on well-spaced jugs that will make you want to swing around like a monkey. For further variety you can explore the enticing coolness of the fortified caves last used during the war. Best of all, this site is weather-proof being located within a large natural recess, making it an ideal destination in suspect weather.
Moon Hill is the highlight of any climbing holiday in Yangshuo. This site offers tough, mostly overhanging routes with good hand holds and plenty of good feet to choose from. There are a couple of easier routes to warm you up (or maybe wear you out) but the rest of the routes are steep and pumpy, which is what makes this crag a favorite with experienced climbers. It is shady most of the day and remains dry in the rain, making this an all-weather destination. Discover some of the best overlooks and views in Yangshuo at China’s most famous crag. A visit to Moon Hill is well worth it if you’re good enough!
White Mountain is Yangshuo’s premier crag for more experienced climbers. Overhanging for most of its 200-meter height, the steeper section is consistently overhung at 15 degrees for over 60 meters. White Mountain has routes which have been compared in quality to France’s famous Ceuse . The easiest routes at this crag are 5.10s, and there are many in the 5.12 to 5.13 range. The routes here are long, steep, polished and pumpy, often with amazing pockets and difficult footholds. White Mountain stays dry in the rain but gets full sun during the warmer months, so it is best to go here very early or late in the day. But it’s an all-day crag on overcast or cold autumn days.
Lei Pi Shan
This crag is not nearly the size of White Mountain, but it definitely rivals it in quality. This crag is suited for more experienced climbers, who will surely enjoy the steep pocket routes of the “Hidden Wall” and the long face routes on the main wall. There is a project climb on the main wall which may become the hardest in China. Lei Pi Shan also stays dry in the rain and is shady until the afternoon; making it a great destination no matter what the weather.
This crag is situated immediately on the famous Li River. Another hard climbers’ destination, which has some routes of excellent quality and an open project which is harder than any route yet climbed in Yangshuo. The crag is shady all day and dry in the rain which makes it good for climbing in summer, especially when you like to cool of with a swim in the river. Riverside also has a deep water soloing area which is great when it feels too hot to climb.
The Egg is a well established area which has been open for climbing since 2006. It is located on the right side of the road to PuYi (a small town near Yangshuo) and is a great crag for intermediate and advanced climbers alike. There are four faces all with beautiful views. You can climb in the sun all day or the shade all day by moving round the tower to the various faces. It’s a very versitile venue. Turn right from the road to PuYi, following the path to the right and past a couple of fish ponds. You will see a big mountain rising up from among the flat fields and crops. There are a few routes on the front side that will give beginners a test on footwork technique and finger strength. A couple of long 5.10-5.12s routes on the north face of the mountain will definitely attract more advanced climbers.
Chicken Cave, named for the village nearby, Chicken Coop Village, is one of the best places to climb in the wet and hot weather. The climbs and belay area stay dry even in the heaviest rain and most of the routes are sheltered from the sun all day. The steep path to the cave will be muddy and slippery when it’s raining so it’s better to wear hiking boots for the approach to the cave when it’s raining. And helmets are recommended because there is some dubious rock here.
Stone City (Great Wall)
The Great Wall is an impressive cliff 300 or 400m wide and about 100 to 150m tall. It is situated high on a hill and enjoys spectacular views down over the surrounding countryside. It is north facing and only takes a little sun in the evening. The crag is a bit far from Yangshuo Town so it isn’t as popular as other crags for now. The place has a remote mountain feel to it and is only suited to competent experienced all-around climbers. It’s worth it to have a try if you are an adventurous climber and you have the time to get out there. There is quite a lot of loose rock on the cliff and helmets are recommended.
Big Gun Wall is a new crag that offers quality climbing at intermediate grades. Some loose rock exists so helmets are recommended. The crag is shaded in the afternoon.If you are planning a quiet climbing afternoon, Big Gun is a perfect option.