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Yunnan Climbing. SW China Trip Report

8:42:53 PM
Yunnan Climbing. SW China Trip Report. Fun, relatively easy access and widespread sport climbing!

Following 80 days spent in Yangshou, China living a disconnected life of eating clay pot veggies and rice, climbing with more than a few people who were jaw droppingly good climbers and/or funny ass people, and not having a worry in the world; I spent 10 days skipping through a bit more of SW China (Dali, Funmin, and Kunming) with Andrew Hedesh since he was feeling the need to break town after the Chinese new year as well.

if interested see - Yangshuo Mini Trip Report

So Drew and I grabbed a bus to Guillin, a 18 hour train to Kunming, and a 4.5 hour bus to Dali. From the Dali drop off, take the number 8 bus from a bus stop further down the road, and head into Old Dali town. We met with Adam from Climb Dali ( making 3 random climbers who all grew up within an hour and a half of each other in Eastern Pennsylvania. Someone throw us a damn Yuengling!

Adam had just secured permission to bolt in ShiMenGuan Canyon on the backside of the west Dali Mtns (Cangshan?) and had added 5 or so new routes since Drew was there and started the bolting with him. Drew and took a bus and a tuktuk from the valley road up about a 3k switchbacking cobblestone road to a village guesthouse. We dropped some gear at the 15 RMB per night beds and headed up the canyon.

ShiMenGuan Canyon - Looking up the canyon, as Drew looks left to the bolted slabs.

As a visiting geologist I was instructed by Adam to make a formal appraisal of the canyon climbing that he has been describing as granite slabs. Disappointingly to his advertised literature, the rock was Gneiss, a metamorphic type giving the slab and steep canyon itís inherent nature. However the developed climbing was as good as promised with heaps and heaps more potential for vertical multipitch adventure routes and likely a bit of very challenging overhung and roofy stuff.

Slab climbing at ShiMenGuan Canyon - Andrew up the slab.

We climbed as much of the routes as our toes could handle in two days. Thin fingers, high steps, small to no feet, 'iím supposed to undercling What?' (Blood Puke 5.12+ unclimbed..), and well our shoes, finger tips, and practiced style from Yangshuo limestone were not dialed to the new rock yet. A good physical and mental change in climbing left me for one, refreshed and wasted! I had the grotesquely stupid precognition that slab climbing was easy.... Then we feasted on a roasted skewered goat (not dinky kebab sticks but ass-to-nose rotisserie goat with chucks hacked off) and we bathed in the icy waters of the steep canyons river pools (which we lost the guest house key in, the only key, and required us forcefully break back into the room). While this place gets more development, we figure the shabby guesthouse will recoup the costs of the broken window and iron gating as climbers come to experience the beautiful scenery and reliving differences in climbing styles offered here.

Steep ShiMenGuan - River views from back in the canyon, really a nice walk when youíre done climbing.

Back to Dali we spent the next day climbing in GuanYin Canyon near a Buddhist temple to the east of Dali. 8-12 routes exist here with some of the best lines taken by the temple at the top of a beautiful overhung tufa rich cliff.

GuanYin Canyon climbing and temple

Again more is to be developed here too. We climbed a few routes and picked out the next new lines that Adam and Drew will return to develop shortly. Nice tufas and an easy approach here. Around the area we went for a long drive down new highways growing in every direction to scope valleys for more potential. Another good day out and always great to climb new rock.

We rested and ate the next day with Adam's family and friends, then loaded up for a trip south to FunMin Canyon and more. Coming in from the top of the canyon we joyously gazed around at the river scenery that look us far from the noisy streets and dirty cities we were sick of. Rock appeared in the hills above us and suddenly we were surrounded by walls with possibly 100 routes in around, and again, more to be had! A few warm ups on 5.9-5.10s we had a fun go at a steep and technical 5.11c/d and headed to Kunming to drop a friend off at the airport, planning on returning soon.
Fumin Canyon. Weeping and Lower 'upper' wall - Just a part of Funmin Canyon, walls to the left and right as well!

The next day we stopped at TuanJie Cave outside of Kunming where STEEP 5.12-5.13 routes are throughout the roofs of a fairly large open-sided cave. A couple 5.10-5.11s on the outside, and a really nice 5.10d and super fun 5.11b inside the cave as well. This place is real nice and has more rock around the outside just as well.
TuanJie CaveTuanJie Cave, just outside
My final days in China were crippled by gastro from drinking partly boiled hotel water and Adam and Drew went back to Funmin Canyon and back to Dali for more. I just flew to Chiang Mai to get a couple routes in, but plan to mainly rest and wait for an Indian visa over the next 10 days. Climbing outside of Yangshuo is definitely is planned for a return trip. I really highly recommend Climb Daliís services and encourage a donation to his new Dali Bolting Fund to get things developed quicker! Feel free to drop me a line anytime with a questions or to pursue my prolific services at rock climbing geologizing. Seriously
ryweller at gmail dot com

More photos at:
6:14:28 PM
Eduardo, are these the places you went to?

8:35:33 PM
Thanks for posting! Looks really cool!

Eduardo Slabofvic
11:01:31 AM

Nice trip report. thanks.

Fumin Gorge is pretty good, and yeah, more routes to go. I didn't think much of the town of Fumin, but day tripping from Kunmin is possible once you suss out the transport connections. Some of the anchors were rubbish.

I recall a route called Snake Skin where the chain looked like a dog collar and the links were opening up. Some of the bolt plates were missing down low, as the local come and take them for scrap metal.

I met Adam in Dali as well. He very kindly showed us around also. We went to the Buddhist temple place as well. I can't imagine how you would find that place without some one taking you. So again, thanks go to Adam

Did you go to the crag on the other side of the lake? It had some good routes, probably only a couple of days worth. Those slabs look better though.

Did you go to the western Hills? Also accessible from Kunmin. We went, but couldn't find the routes.

It's good to hear that canyon is being developed, as Old Dali is a great place to stay, and if there are more climbing options then it definitely worth going. Plenty of accommodation, great food, bars, good local beer, pretty town.

Probably not as much "wow" factor as Yangshuo, but we spent about a week or so in Fumin Gorge and the only other person we saw was the local goat herder.

There are some other areas north of Dali that will be fantastic for climbing if permission is ever granted. Yunnan should definitely be on your itinerary if you go climbing in China.

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