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One of our local Chinese friends told us that there are at least 20,000 karst mountains in Yangshuo. I saw that number again as I was aimlessly paging through a magazine one night at dinner. I assumed that it was an exaggeration until we spent a day exploring the countryside on bikes. The area of Yangshuo is vast and littered with small, triangular, karst peaks. It’s hard to believe how many there actually are. The way the rivers meander around the mountains is otherworldly. And the Chinese have built their ancient oriental villages right around the formations.
Unfortunately, it rained for a solid two weeks during the start of our trip so we couldn’t get out and climb as much as we wanted to. The one day we decided to try and climb in the rain ended with me taking a lead fall onto my back. Ouch! Thankfully you can get a very cheap, full body, ninety minute massage in China. Don’t worry – I am almost fully recovered and grateful for having my helmet on. If we decide to come to China again it will be in October or November when the temperature is right and there is no rain.
The few days that we did get out and ascend some routes on the limestone crags were spectacular, to say the least. It was cool that Ann lead as many pitches as I did on this trip. She is getting much more confident on the sharp end of the rope, and I love seeing her getting stronger. I also appreciate her willingness to try and lead some harder climbs that put her out of her comfort zone. I am always happy to let her take the lead; I love to see her set the lines. Climbing is something that we both enjoy, something that brings us together. I love encouraging her through the hard parts and she does the same for me. It’s definitely one of the strongest points of our marriage. As soon as we tie in we are taking each other’s lives into our hands. I don’t know of any other sport where communication and concentration by both partners is as critical. Marriage seems to require the attention of those two things.
At $60 a piece very few Chinese people can afford a traditional rack of rock climbing gear. One very experienced Chinese climber was enthralled by a handful of Black Diamond camelots that I pulled out of my bag. Almost all of the routes are fully bolted, so using trad gear on these routes rarely happens. All that you really need here to have a blast is a rack of quick draws, a harness, your climbing shoes, and a sixty meter rope. If you’re not a climber you can hire a Chinese guide and the gear for about $45 per day or an English speaking guide for $75 per day. Ann and I would highly recommend coming to Yangshuo. Whether you climb or not, there is something for everyone here.
If we could have climbed every day we most likely would have. But even though we couldn’t get out as much as we wanted to we had a blast hiking, mountain biking, rafting, and motor scootering through the country.
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