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Is there REALLY any climbing in Beijing...?
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mrtristan


Aug 25, 2003, 7:56 PM
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Is there REALLY any climbing in Beijing...?
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Is there rock climbing in or near Beijing? No. At least, thatís what I was beginning to think after my sojourn into the unknown that didnít turn out quite like I would have liked. I had been living in Beijing for about six months and had been both too busy and too lazy, which really means that my parents wouldnít let me go climbing. Owing to the fact that I hadnít climbed during the several months leading up to the move, I was going crazy and willing to do anything to get off the ground.

I dug up the out-of-date ďClimbing in BeijingĒ book from the depths of my closet, brushed the dust off, and eventually picked out the crag I wanted to go to. The crag, Cliff 309, looked like it had some good bouldering around it, so that is what I set my sights on. To get there, I would have to ride my bike for half an hour, get on the subway, get off the subway, walk a mile, take a bus, walk another twenty minutes, take another bus, enter a park, hike to the top of a large hill where I would find a small pagoda, hop over the wall of the pagoda, and find a trail leading to the base of the cliff. Piece of cake, I thought, as I tossed the book, along with a map of Beijing and my climbing shoes, into my backpack.

The next morning dawned cloudy and the forecast called for rain. But pshaw, a bit of water never hurt anyone. About fifteen seconds into my half hour bike ride, it started to rain. A lot. In fact, it started raining harder than I had seen before or since. But no matter, I was undeterred. I was going to climb and not rain nor sleet nor hail nor crazy drivers could stand in my way. Local people stared with raised eyebrows at the teenage foreigner barreling down the slippery roads, weaving in and out of the slow-moving bicycle riders on their morning commute. I reached the metro station in record time, and just as I was locking my bike up outside of the station, it stopped raining. Go figure.

A crowded, humid, hot, and stinky fifteen-minute ride in the subway brought me to a stop east of Beijing Zoo. After twenty minutes of walking in the muggy morning heat I reached the desired bus stop and had barely set down my backpack when I saw the bus creaking and groaning towards me. Beijing busses deserve their own trip report. Ten cents and forty-five minutes later and the bus shuddered to a halt in front of the Summer Palace, where the emperors of old would come for a little R & R. I had planned on catching another bus that would take me deeper into the hills, but I had never been to the Summer Palace and so decided to play tourist for an hour.

As beautiful and enjoyable as it was to be in this playground of ancient kings, I couldnít stop my mind from wandering to the boulders that were lurking in the misty hills beyond. I therefore cut short my history lesson and hopped on another bus that would take me to the park, where I would find the hill, where I would find the pagoda, where I would find the trail, and eventually find the rock.

I donít speak Chinese. Or read it. Or understand it. So I got off at what I thought was the right stop. But there was no park in sight. HmmmmÖ I set off walking down the road and after stepping in donkey dung, being splashed by passing cars, yelled at and almost run over by old men on their rickety old bikes, and nearly melting in the sweltering heat, I came to the bus stop that I was supposed to get off at. And, of course, the entrance to the park was right across the road.

So I pay my twenty-five cents and I'm immediately confronted with a problem: how do I get up the giant hill in front of me? I had no idea how to ask for help using my limited Chinese skills, but soon found something to point me in the right direction. One of the few Chinese characters I knew was the word for "up". When I saw this on the sign, I figured it said which way you go to get up the top of the hill. I had nothing to lose, so I proceeded to fight my way up the uneven, steep, semi-paved road that headed into a forest and then zigzagged up one side of the mountain.

I had picked the worst day for my exploratory adventure. It was one of the hottest days of the year, and almost unbearably humid. After about an hour of sweating and squishing and slogging and slipping and my way up, and coming within an inch of my life when a small truck came thundering down the road and just barely missed me, I made it to the summit. It was not very impressive. There was just a small, recently built pagoda that was locked and a few Chinese tourists. I didnít see another foreigner the entire day.

After drinking down the last of my water and taking a short, well-earned rest, I started hunting for the trail that would, finally, lead me to the cliff. But no matter how hard I searched, no matter how much bushwhacking I did, no matter how much I wished for a trail to be there, I couldn't find the cliff. I followed imaginary trails through the brush that led me nowhere. Dirty, defeated, and demoralized, I turn around and headed back down to the mountain, back to the buses, back to the millions of happy flatlanders below.

Hours later, I arrived back home. I was exhausted, dehydrated, starving, soaked, and miserable. I had been gone some eight hours. I had not climbed a single thing, and concluded that the whole day had been one big waste.

A couple days later, though, after being allowed to thoroughly dry out and eat foods that I actually recognized, I thought differently. If the average climber wants to climb he simply hops in his car and drives to the nearest crag, boulder, or gym. They don't have to worry about battling overprotective parents, erratic bus schedules, strange languages, phantom cliffs, and crazed souvenir venders. But the best things in life are the things you have to work hard for, right? Cliff 309: Iíll be back.


roughster


Aug 25, 2003, 8:30 PM
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Re: Is there REALLY any climbing in Beijing...? [In reply to]
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Nice job!


leapfrog


Aug 25, 2003, 9:08 PM
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Re: Is there REALLY any climbing in Beijing...? [In reply to]
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I just came back from a 3-week trip to China. Summer is definitely not the best season to visit Beijing.

The prime destination for outdoor climbing in Beijing is White River (Bai He). I believe there are buses to there but your best bet would be to find a local climber to take you there. Try the staff at the climbing wall inside the Capital Stadium (about 1 mile west of the Zoo) if you don't know any local climbers.

Good luck and keep the TR coming.


mrtristan


Aug 25, 2003, 9:19 PM
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Registered: Jun 21, 2002
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Re: Is there REALLY any climbing in Beijing...? [In reply to]
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yeah, i wrote this about a year ago, and have since found some climbing areas. Never been to bai he though. and yeah, summer here's pretty bad, but not as bad as people make it out to be.

tristan


positivethoughts


Aug 25, 2003, 9:33 PM
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Registered: Aug 25, 2003
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Re: Is there REALLY any climbing in Beijing...? [In reply to]
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Great story! ... and the buses, the crazy bicyclists and the smog... I am impressedit. Those streets absolutely boggle my mind.

I'd love to hear more about your adventures.

But, the big question is... did you go back?

T


dc


Sep 21, 2003, 12:44 AM
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Registered: Sep 19, 2003
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Re: Is there REALLY any climbing in Beijing...? [In reply to]
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dude thats an awesome story...
haha ...ive had some similar adventures in Hong Kong.. like with crazed bus drivers and getting lost.. except not to the same extreme as you.

i have heard the climbing is good in china... and theres certainly lots of unconquered mountains and crags...
..climb on and never be defeated! haha :lol:


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