Climbing in Yangshuo

The Climbing Lesson from Rachel A Davis Vagabond on Vimeo.

If China has an outdoor capital, then Yangshuo is probably it. With so many hiking and cycling trails, rivers, caves and rock faces it draws adventurous visitors from all over the world to play amongst its glorious limestone karst scenery.

As I have already admitted in a previous post, climbing isn’t really my cup of oolong, but that doesn’t stop me appreciating the skill of others. Chris, Sophie and Severi had enjoyed their introduction to climbing {booked through the hostel} so they decided to take it to another level and try to learn more technical skills.

Climbing Yangshuo

They opted to have a lesson with Black Rock Climbing, they have a neat little shop in town and after popping there for a chat one evening they booked for following day.

Grabbing a flask from the hostel the next morning we purchased some snacks from the bakery nearby then walked around to the climbing shop to meet Joe, their instructor. He kitted them out in climbing gear and showed them on a map where they would be climbing, at “Swiss Cheese”, explaining the difficulty grading system and giving them some tips. There are climbing routes for all abilities here in Yangshuo.

Joe spoke good English and he was so enthusiastic about climbing. He effortlessly scaled the rock face to lay the top rope to get the climb started, he seemed completely fearless and inspired everyone. He came down and talked the guys through everything from putting their gear on to safety, knotting the rope and tackling the wall.

Climbing YangshuoHe taught them to belay and top rope, it was fascinating to watch, they took it in turns working in pairs or in threes and they seemed so brave to me! As you can see from the picture below, Joe was always there to assist them if they needed it.


Climbing Yangshuo

Towards the end of the afternoon the sun had gone behind the karsts and the temperature dropped, Joe lit a small fire using bamboo bark peelings and we huddled around it drinking coffee from the flask.

All fired up from the days climb they decided to book a second lesson which we did on New Years Eve after we returned to Yangshuo from our trip to the Dragons Backbone Rice Terraces.

Climbing Yangshuo

Joe took us to “Wine Bottle” this time, which was already busy with independent climbers on that bright last day of the year. There are plenty of routes to go round however and he found us some moderately easy routes to get us started, or should I say get them started, I merely sat back and photographed them again!

On this lesson they learnt to fall, which was fun to watch, to lead belay and to unclip on the way back down. They climbed various routes until it got dark.

Climbing Yangshuo

To occupy myself both days, I had decided to make a little movie of their lessons, to practice my film making and to help them remember their newly learnt skills. I hope you like it!

And so 2013 drew to a close, we saw in the new year back at the hostel after a meal in town, at 2am Sophie persuaded us back out and we joined the eclectic crowd at Demo Bar- climbers, expats, and locals, and I assume a cowboy fancy dress theme but I could be wrong! And if you were the young Aussie dude zebra who we found sleeping in a pile of rubble outside, it was us who miraculously got you back to your hostel!

New Year!


We spent another week in Yangshuo following New Year, catching up with things and generally having a “travel rest”. When you have been travelling for a while it is good to switch off every now and again, it prevents travel weariness.

During this time we found some delicious vegetarian street food, if only we’d found it sooner! A hawker {kind of opposite Cloud 9 restaurant} was selling cubed potato, fried with mustard seeds then tossed with coriander leaves, chilli oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds, it was so simple yet, oh my goodness, it was delicious! > I’ve now recreated the recipe!

Fried potato in YangshuoHave you been inspired to try climbing?

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By Rachel Davis