Visiting HK and only have a limited time to sample the best climbing on offer?
In this series of posts we’ll quiz some of Hong Kong’s most established climbers on what they consider to be the best routes out there through the grade range.
Kicking things off is Stuart Millis, the founder and manager of http://www.hongkongclimbing.com
F5: Jaqattack on Temple Crag. This one is included as much (if not more so) for its location and position as much as the quality of the climbing. A delightful exercise in granite slab climbing in one of the most picturesque settings in Hong Kong, high above the sweeping sandy beaches of southern Lantau with no a skyscraper in sight…
F6a: Austrian Staircase on Lion Rock. Two very contrasting pitches, both of which are pure joy to climb. The first follows a long curving and steep sickle shaped flake on mostly good holds and is a good way to warm up the arms. The second is more technical and follows a series of grooves up the right side of the East Face, culminating in some steeper cracks and corner at the top.
F6a+: Small Roof at Tech Wall, Tung Lung. One of the mega classics in Hong Kong. A steep groove/ corner system leads relatively comfortably up to a small overhang, which forms the meat of the climb. Crank through this before balancing your way up the small headwall above to the lower off. Delightful…
F6b: Wards Groove on Lion Rock. A classic multi-pitch excursion on Lion Rock that requires a good repertoire of trad climbing skills if you’re to succeed in climbing it – no amount of plastic pulling is going to prepare you for the thrutchy climbing on the third pitch…
F6b+: Tigger (Pitch 2) on Lion Rock. I may be slightly biased about this one as it’s part of the first new route I ever did however, its a stunning pitch and I’m gobsmacked no-one had done it before. Combined with the first pitch (F7a+), the route takes a straight line right up the middle of the East Face and is a real directissima. The second pitch is a superbly sustained (almost 30 m) feast of thin technical face climbing, never too hard but at no point easy either.
F6c: La Dolce Vita at Forgotten Buttress, Central Crag. Another of those routes that has a nice varied selection of climbing on it. The climb starts up a thin technical arete and slab, which steepens as you move up towards a large overhang. Good juggy holds lead up and through this and on to the thin technical headwall above to finish.
F6c+: The Corner at Tech Wall, Tung Lung. Another ‘no-brainer’ and obvious choice (although many will argue this route should really be a F7a). This classic line climbs the obvious corner splitting the left side of Tech Wall and doesn’t disappoint, with difficulties gradually increasing as the climb progresses until a stiff final pull hopefully brings respite at the top of the cliff.
F7a: Lizard at Beacon Hill. The classic of Beacon Hill and a hard tick for the grade (i.e. potentially F7a+), this climb is short and punchy and will give you a good pump despite its limited length. It also pulls no punches as the crux is gaining the obvious flakes right at the bottom of the route. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that success on these moves means the route is in the bag as the rest is still technical and your arms will be screaming by the time you reach the top holds.
F7a+: Call of the Wild on the Big Wall, Tung Lung. This route see’s so little traffic it’s ridiculous given how good the climbing is – i guess the committing position and fact its climb out or swim out scares people off. The climb basically traverses the lip of the cave on Big Wall and feels hugely committing for a well bolted sport climb, especially if there’s a big swell crashing into the cave beneath you. You then follow a slightly awkward crack line to reach a hanging belay , with the crux probably being the bit to get established in the crack. From the belay you can either finish up a F7b pitch above (Vaspering) or abseil off down and left to escape via some of the easier routes on Big Wall.
F7b: Peace of the World, Yellow Wall on Kowloon Peak. Almost 30 m of pure climbing joy. Sustained, technical, pumpy but with rests just where you need them, cruxy where you want it (i.e. near the start) and just where you don’t want it (i.e. right near the end). Topped off by being located on one of the best bits of rock in Hong Kong, with stunning views out over Kowloon and (on a clear day) Hong Kong Island beyond.
F7b+: Dimple face on Tech Wall, Tung Lung. This one was easy as its one of the best climbs in Hong Kong. A delightful sequence up a slightly overhanging wall with top moves that are oh so easy to fall off when pumped out of your mind. You can’t ask for much more from a sport climb than this. Its also one of the few F7b+’s out there with a nice sit down rest on it…
F7c: Sensation Seeker at Cape Collinson is a nearly 30m long arete and wall climb that will test both your technique and stamina. Despite some slightly crumbly rock in parts, this still gives one of the most sustained and enjoyable F7c’s in the 852…
F7c+: Epiphany in Sea Gully, Tung Lung. This one was a toss up between Epiphany and the mega classic Todd Skinner route on Tech Wall, Tung Lung Bad Boy. However, Epiphany won it for me by virtue of tackling the relatively blank and improbable looking wall at the end of The Terrace through a superb technical sequence of moves, with a frustratingly fall’offable move right at the end.
F8a: Evolution at Monkey Buttress. Another one of mine so I guess I’m either very vain or really have an eye for a good line… In this case I think I’m safe in saying the latter applies as it has a little bit of everything on it, including a fiendishly thin crux right at the top. A nice gentle introduction on good holds leads to some harder moves to reach the overlap (slightly harder since a good jug broke off in early 2013 – hint: don’t climb here after recent rain…). Powerful moves through this lead up to a big pocket and groove above. Either bridge / palm your way up this (my approach) or sneak out right and layback the right side of it (the ‘cop-out’ choice of those with no ethics) to gain the thin blank wall above. Crimp your way up this to [hopefully] gain the positive crack at the top of the wall. Awesome all the way from bottom to top.
Note: Recently downgraded to F7c+ following a spate of comments (i’d still give it F8a) but still one of the best lines in HK so maintained here for historical reasons.
F8a+: Last Round Last Minute on Lion Rock. Never climbed anything of this grade so can’t really comment. Going on looks alone however I’d have to say Rocky’s route Last Round Last Minute up on Lion Rock, which looks stunning.
F8b: Again, never done an F8b but have been working Local Spirits at Central Crag quite a bit and have got it down to just a couple of rests/falls. This is a simply awesome route. Short but insanely powerful and crimpy and a joy to climb (whilst skin and finger tendons allow…)
F8b+ and above: We don’t have any of these in HK – come on you strong boys and girls, there must be some harder lines out there…
V1: The Classic at Shek O. A gem of a problem up the obvious crack line. Good holds, good rock, great setting.
V2: Supersonic at Radar Rocks. An improbable looking line for this grade. Start on the low jug and crank your way up the overhanging arete until just before the lip of the overhanging wall, when it is possible to rock up on to the slab above. Finish up this with trepidation.
V3: Leap of Faith at Shek O. Pleasant moves on good holds lead up the lower wall until a daunting ‘pop’ off small holds is required to gain the ledge above. Finish more pleasantly up the crack and corner above.
V4: The Flying Russian at Colin’s Boulders. Small but positive crimps lead to a true leap of faith and an intimating top out. go big or not at all…
V5: Sparkies Amazing Technicolour Dream Roof at Colin’s Boulders. Both awesome by name and by nature (Ed: Colin originally wanted to call it Colin’s roof but there was no way we were settling for that…). Steep, technical, pumpy, awesome…
V6: Kung Hei Fat Boy at Shek O. This lone boulder may look scrappy on first appearances but this problem climbs as well as any other in Hong Kong, or elsewhere for that matter
V7: Painful Birth at Chung Hom Kok. Crawl inside the cave created by the perched block to start sat on a ledge on the back wall. Traverse your way out along the rail until it is possible to rock out right onto the face, where you can finish up Alien (V3).
V8: Golden Arete on Lamma. The blank bald arete starts off nice enough but has a real sting in the tail when the holds run-out at the top. Tenuous barn-doory arete climbing at its best.
V9: So High at Lin Fa Shan. If bouldering is climbing distilled down to its purest form then this is bouldering distilled down to its purest form. Basically, one move in a completely safe setting. But my word, what a move…(Note: I would have gone for Mega Tsunami at Colin’s Boulders but a) there’s already too many problems from there in the list, and b) I’m not sure its still climbable since some of the holds low down broke)
V10: Rocky’s Arete at Shek O. Not done this but it sure feels worthy of the grade…
V11 and above: Again, we’re somewhat lacking in this department so get out there and find some, i’m sure they exist…