Episode 1, Li Ming, Yunnan
Over July, August, and September 2015 a group of us are going on a road trip across China. It going to be an amazing adventure capturing images and video while we do new routes across Sichuan, Qinghai, and Xinjiang.
Our trip starts in Northern Yunnan. Exploring the sandstone climbing mecca of Li Ming and the up and coming limestone sport climbing area Shigu. From there we are going to drive north onto the Tibetan plateau to explore unclimbed granite in the most wild parts of Sichuan and Qinghai. The last part of our trip will be in Keketuohai, known as China’s little Yosemite.
Mike Dobie: A guidebook author, explorer, first ascentist, guide, and sponsored Athlete. He is also a Professional Faller and muscle fixer by trade. Through his years of climbing he has learned to fall hard. And to keep doing it. Sometime he doesn’t fall. What is the fun in that?
Ana Pautler: She is the Co-author of the Climb China Guidebook as well as a professional guide. Also she is a Professional dongxi hauler and bushwacker. She enjoys long tedious death marches with no water, food, and minimal climbing.
Ryder Stroud: An AMGA apprentice guide. He is also a Professional fake Asian. inroad rager.
Raul Sauco: A professional naked Spaniard and sandbagger. Also he is a professional sandbagger and naked Spaniard.
Li Ming, Yunnan: Overlooking the headwaters of the mighty Yangtze River in northwest Yunnan,Liming has become “the” trad capital of China, and perhaps Asia. Splitter sandstone crags are streaked with cracks and corners that have yet to be climbed.
The expedition will spend the shortest time here of the four destinations, as it is the most developed of the locations we intend to visit. That being said, Liming his endless potential for both moderate as well as cutting-edge routes; it is the homeof Asia’s hardest trad route: Flying Buttress (5.13d/5.14a). With a young but growing climbing infrastructure already in place, more development will push Liming to become a cornerstone of the Asia climbing community, especially in a country that could use a greater number of talented, home-grown trad climbers.
ShiGu, Yunnan: China’s newest and growing limestone sport climbing area. Only 56 routes are established so far with heaps of potential. Only an hour from Li Ming it is clear that in the future these two climbing areas will become a contender for the top rock climbing destination in China.
Dao Cheng, Sichuan: High Altitude expedition bouldering. With rock very similar to the buttermilks in Bishop California, this area is growing fast and there are still many sectors that need to be explored.
JarJinJiaBo, Sichuan: One of the emerging alpine playgrounds of China, Jarjinjiabo bears a growing, but few, number of high-quality alpine routes. Despite being the site of ascents by famous climbers like Mark Synnott and Pete Athans, very little information and media has made the journey back across the Pacific. Part of the team, Mike and Ana, already have experience in this region, which will lend itself to having a strong knowledge base for what has or has not seen an ascent.
Nianbaoyuzi, Qinghai: Nestled in the remote borderlands of the Sichuan and Qinghai Kham, Nianbaoyuze is possibly the least known of the expedition’s destinations. The range’s remote location, proximity to historically Tibetan areas, and its highly unknown nature outside of China have all resulted in few routes being established on the area’s granite spires. While the Northeast Face of the main Nianbaoyuze peak has been climbed by a Chinese party, there are multitudes of spires in the region that have yet to see an ascent, and if there are more routes in the area, there is little or no information on them.
The team’s goal is to establish multiple routes on these granite spires and bring back more detailed descriptions and information on the area in order to better share with the climbing community what untapped climbing potential still exists in China.
Keketuohai, Xinjiang: Often described as “China’s Little Yosemite,” Keketuohai is fast becoming China’s destination for granite cragging. Both Mike and Ana have made trips to Keketuohai in the past, with Mike having a string of high-quality first ascents, including Rip Curl, Liberty Crack, and the Bundy Route. He opened a 5.13 roof crack, Diamond in the Witch House, which has yet to be freed. Keketuohai has the potential to become an international trad climbing destination.However, it needs more route development and a stronger climbing community presence to convince the sometimes skeptical China-Mongolia border authorities that climbing can be a sustainable–and for the locals, profitable–activity.
And the Unknown…
Along the way we may just find a new place to climb. Bring you pictures and stoke for any new upcoming areas.