Whether you are a beginner or an expert climber, the small county of Yangshuo, in southern China's Guangxi province, promises varied and exciting climbs with the company of rock climbers at all levels. Since 2008, the Yangshuo Climbing Festival has been a staple of great climbing and strong community. A long weekend of courses and competitions, climbers come as much for the atmosphere and friendship as they do for racing up rocks.
What it is: 2009 Yangshuo Rock Climbing Festival 2009 阳朔攀岩节
When it is: Nov 13th – Nov 15th, 2009
The damage: 250 RMB [150 RMB for early registration, date since passed]
For an official overview and registration, check out http://www.ysclimbfest.com.cn/en/index.html
Organized by North Face and Black Diamond, with plenty of assistance from local climbing outfits (there are now officially eight), the festival aims at friendly competition, offering courses that can introduce beginners to the art, as well as helping the more advanced climbers with their technique. The festival also attracts top athletes to lead some of their courses, such as Alex Honnold, who's been making waves in the climbing community for about two years, or Abond, a Yunnan native who is already one of China's most acclaimed climbers.
Last year's inaugural festival had an easy time attracting more than three hundred attendees. Chinese climber Abond took two of the men's competitions, as well as reaching the highest point through a difficult new route attempt. Two of the women's competitions were won by Aksandra Przybysz, a Polish climber who had just arrived in town after a grueling 30-hour train ride from Beijing. The “White Wall,” a two hundred meter-wide cliff with routes for all levels, became the obvious center of festival activities, with two other large crags used as well.
This year's Yangshuo Climbing Festival is expected to be even bigger, with at least five hundred attendees. Yangshuo Sports Stadium will serve as the headquarters, with the opening ceremonies kicking off on Friday, November 13th, followed by an evening of open bouldering. Along with a treasure hunt, plus workshops and competitions over the weekend, attendees will enjoy a slideshow presentation with a buffet dinner. One standout at this year's festival may be the bouldering events. Bouldering (you guessed it – climbing up boulders) has its own niche of specialty climbers, but often attracts cliff climbers as well, as the smaller boulders offer the opportunity to work out many climbing difficulties with quicker and shorter climbs.
Yangshuo Climbing Festival doesn't only provide climbers with fun and competition, but also plays a supporting role in the future of climbing in Yangshuo. The fees, which range from 150 to 250 RMB, go to county climbing development: setting up new routes, replacing top anchors, reserving crags and finding new climbing sites. Now that Yangshuo is on the map for Chinese and international climbers, keeping routes in top condition, expanding routes, and forming good working relations with Yangshuo locals are all high priority.
Although this is only the festival's second year amidst Yangshuo's peaks and farmland, chances are excellent that it continues far into the future. The rock climbing scene is settled and growing, with Yangshuo township making a foreigner-friendly base of operations. The geography's countless gnarled limestone towers already provide over 400 routes, with thousands more surely to come.
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