Shek O Bouldering
Located primarily around the headland of Tai Tau Chau, close to Shek O on the southern side of Hong Kong, the walls and boulders at the Village, Headland, Corridor and Main Wall offer a selection problems in a fine setting. For those keen to explore, some fine previously undocumented areas also exist up at Hillside Boulders and along the coastline at the Other Side.
The landings are generally on to granite slabs so a crash mat or two is a definite requirement.
The circuit at Shek O is probably the oldest established one in Hong Kong. Due to the proximity of the roped climbing, people have long played on the small walls and boulders that adorn the headland of Tai Tau Chau. Unfortunately, the ‘playground’ style in which the area was treated means that very little is known of the early history of bouldering here. The spate of development and resurgence of interest in the area began around 2003 when, armed with crash pads and immense amount of power gained in bouldering gyms, climbers such as Rocky Lok turned their attention to the steeper venues such as The Cellar and unearthed gems such as ‘Lok and Load’. Explorations up the Hillside also yielded some of Hong Kong’s harder problems, with Rocky establishing lines up to V10 in this area.
The Village Boulders
The first set of boulders, closest to Shek O Village, has it all from highballs, pleasant walls and a nice small ‘cellar’ like wall. The only real down side is the small size of the area and the amount of litter that seems to get washed up and left by day trippers.
From the end of the road carry straight on down the staircase and immediately follow a small dirt path which contours right around the small hill. It is also possible to contour the coast line to the boulders from Shek O Beach.
(1) V1 – 5a * Warm Up Wall. A pleasant line up the right side of the wall.
(2) V2 * Straight Down the Middle. The centre of the wall, just using the horizontal breaks (avoiding the problems either side). An eliminate -V4 * Dyno-mite – starts in the lowest horizontal break and dyno’s to jugs at the top of the wall.
(3) V1 – 5a ** Left Arete. The left arete.
(4) VB – 4b *** Corner. The corner crack.
(5) V0 – 4c. The hanging groove.
(6) V0 – 4c * (sds). The right arete of the wall.
(7) V3 ** Plumbline. A fun problem for the tall and a nightmare for those vertically challenged! The centre of the wall via small crimps and gastons.
(8) V3 ** Blockbuster Direct (sds). The arete from a sit down start.
(9) V2 *** Blockbuster The classic of the area. Start in pockets in the centre of the wall, beneath a small roof. Move right to the arete and finish up this.
(10) V6 ** Enigma. From pockets beneath the roof head up the small ‘holds’ between the groove and Blockbuster.
(11) V5 * Enigma Left. Start on undercuts in the roof and climb the thin seam / groove. Very shouldery
(1) V4 * Cellar Dweller (sds). Start at a small ledge and sidepull, with footholds on the block and deep under the roof, and follow the corner above. (Possibly harder since part of the starting sidepull snaped off).
(2) V6 ** Cellar Dweller Ext. Climb further into the cellar and start with hands on a good hold (foothold for normal start) and feet wedged in the horizontal break. Make 2 moves to join Cellar Dweller then follow this. (Again, probably harder since the demise of the hold on Cellar Dweller).
(3) Project. An obvious line in the middle of the wall and contender for HK’s hardest.
(4) V7 *** Lok and Load. From a crouching start at the good lay away (see photo to the right) aim up for a poor sidepull before launching left to the top.
(5) V8 *** Locked and Loaded (sds). The sit start to Lok and Load adds only one move but a whole new degree of difficulty.
(6) V1 – 5b *** Short and Sweet (sds). The short overhanging corner line.
(7) V3 ** Angels Delight (sds). Start with hands matched on the thin flake and feet bridged in the corner. Lunge for the break and finish on good holds above this.
(8) V6 * Stuart’s Slap (sds). Start as for the previous problem, but this time eliminate all intermediate holds and launch straight for the top of the wall.
(9) V1 * The Traverse. Start at the right end of the cellar and traverse the break left to join ‘Short and Sweet’. Pass over this to the juggy top holds and follow these left to the corner. Finish up this. A good warm up.
(1) VB – 3b. The short corner forms more of a scramble than a boulder problem.
(2) VB – 4a. Climb the centre of the small wall on good holds.
(3) VB – 4a. The short juggy corner
(4) V1 * Good holds lead up the deep corner to a worrying finale over the small roof.
(5) V3 * Braveheart. The juggy arete leads to a small roof. Move through this and up the hanging groove with trepidation.
(6) V0 – 4c * The largest of the corners is followed on good flakey holds.
(7) V1 *** S Crack. Follow the thin crack line to the right of the corner.
(8) V0 – 4c. The short thin corner immediately left of the vertical rubble.
The short wall next to the descent route is a little bit grainy and loose in places but still provides a few pleasant problems around V0 – VB.
(1) V3 ** The Sythe (sds). From good holds on the cresent shaped flake slap to the top of the block.
(2) V0 – 4c* On the Edge. The short right side of the face gives a couple of fun moves.
(1) VB – 4b. A bit of a one move wonder from the good holds at chest height. Crouching to start increases the grade but not much of the quality.
(2) V2 ** (sds). From side pulls on the flake reach up and through the sloping breaks to a thin mantleshelf finish.
(1) V3 ** Traverse the rounded break at half height to finish up the right hand arete.
(2) V2 ** From the slopey break at half height reach up to a higher slopey break and the top.
(3) V1 ** The flake in the centre of the wall.
(4) V2 * Start beneath an undercut pocket at a good sidepull pocket. Follow good crimps up the steep face to the top.
(5) V1 ** Start as for Problem 4 but move right and climb the hanging arete.
(6) V2 ** (sds). Start at a good pocket and move up to sloping holds in the horizontal break. Finish direct.
The Fat Boy Boulder
Located half way along the coastline between the Village Boulders and Shek O beach, this lone boulder contains probably one of the best V6’s in Hong Kong.
(1) V3 ** Time to Leave. The left arete of the block.
(2) V5 * Time to Leave (sds) The left arete from a sit start.
(3) V8 ** Ass Crack (sds) Tackle the obvious crack from a sit start. Easier said than done…
(4) V6 *** Kung Hei Fat Boy. One of the best problems in HK. Sit start on the right side of the boulder using the arete and holds on the face. From these launch up the crack and arete above via slaps, crimps and a good dose of determination.
(5) V7 ** Silent Day (sds) The right arete of the block.
The Headland Bouldering Areas
The Headland Bouldering area includes a number of sub-areas close to (as the name suggests) the headland on Tai Tau Chau. This area is accessed by continuing along the concrete footpath from the Village Boulders, across the short footbridge on to Tai Tau Chau and then following the footpath to the far end of the island. Towards the end of the footpath you will reach The Corridor, from which all other areas can be accessed relatively quickly and easily.
The Big Boulders
(1) V4 ** Slope Street. From the sloping break reach up and onto the rounded bulging wall above to an insecure and commiting finale.
(2) V2 * The Scoop. Start on small positive edges and reach up into the scooped dish above, pulling into which provides the meat of the problem.
(3) V1 – 5a *. Small edges on the right side of the wall lead into a slanting crack and, hopefully, the top.
(4) V2 ** Road Runner. Starting on small edges, climb the right end of the wall, avoiding the slanting crack to the left and wide crack / arete to the right. A bit contrived but fun none the less.
(1) Project – Scoopy Doo. The groove above the death defying landing. The arete to the left has been climbed from a sds at about V4/5
(2) V2 ** Stem Gem. Bridging your way up between the two boulders saves both skin and energy for an ascent of the deep crack. Finish using the wedged block.
(3) Project. The soaring arete is big, hard and, as yet, unclimbed!
(3a) V5 *** (sds). Climb the middle of the wall on reasonable but spaced crimps until a big throw out left brings the top.
(3b) V4 ** The right arete and wall.
(4) V1 An unpleasant exercise in bridging and jamming.
(5) V2 * Wall Direct. As the name suggests, follow a line of breaks, diagonal cracks and holds directly up the wall.
(6) V1 ** Flakey Wall. Start as for wall direct but trend rightwards and follow the large flake line on positive holds.
(7) V2 *** Crackajack. The long layback / jamming crack feels more like a route than a boulder problem!
(1) V3 ** Stroof. Undercut the large crack at its left end and reach round the lip to the sloping top of the boulder. Mantle to finish. The blocks detached from the main boulder are off route.
(2) V4 *** Skin Graft (sds). Sit on the small ledge and, using the right end of the crack, slap up for a sidepull on the hanging corner out right. Make a determined pull for the top of the boulder before a precarious finish. Once again, the blocks detached from the main boulder are off route.
(3) V3 * Caveman. Crawl into the depths of the cave and, from matched on a small undercut near its back, follow the roof crack out to a juggy, yet suprisingly difficult, finish up the nose of the boulder. The block to the left of the crack can be used for feet.
Main Wall Area
The Roof Top
(1) V2 * Mr Sandman. From a sandy break reach up to an equally sandy, and this time slopey, top.
(2) V0 – 4b *** From a good jug on the arete climb up and into the scoop, which is exited easily above.
(3) V2 ** Big Span. From the undercut break work your feet up high to allow a big span to be made to some crimpy holds above.
(4) VB – 4a * Follow the large juggy flake line from the right end of the boulder.
(1) V0 – 4b Slab and Crack. Follow the thin crack up the centre of the slabby wall
(2) V2 ** The wall right of the corner is climbed via a series of relatively positive flakey edges.
(3) V4 * The difficulty of the roof varies depending on how strict you are regarding use of the holds out left. The less holds, the harder the grade….
(1) V1 ** Smear Test. The left side of the slab gives a delicate and delightful little problem.
(2) V4 *** La Dalle a Jeje. Just right of the centre of the slab is a small foothold and a thin flakey hand hold. Once established on these the rest should be a piece of cake.
(3) V1. The right side of the slab is hardly worth the effort.
(4) V3 ** Sail Surfing (sds). From a sit start with right hand on the arete and left undercutting sandy breaks, slap to the top of the boulder and mantle to finish.
(5) V2 * A’Cheval (sds). Deciding whether to finish on the left side or right side probably proves the crux of the testy little fin of rock.
(1) V1 * Stepping Stones. Follow the line of horizontal ledges up the left side of the face.
(2) V2 * Dicing with Death. From a thin flake low on the wall make a big reach out right to a big, but sandy, undercut. From here work your feet up and make a big reach for a less than perfect top. Mantle to finish. A high problem above a less than perfect landing, lots of spotters and mats advised!
(3) V4 * Risking the Reaper. Another big problem with a less than perfect landing. Start beneath an undercut pocket and work your way up to this. From here a small flake and the top of the wall can be reached.
(4) V1 *** The Classic. A delightful problem up the leftwards trending crack line.
(5) V2 * Directisima. Follow the thin line of small crimps and flakes to a worrying move for the top.
(6) V3 ** Throwing a Wobbler. Start in the middle of the horizontal pod and throw directly for the top of the wall.
(7) V2 * Peapod. From the right side of the pod, slap up the rounded arete to more positive holds on the lip above.
(1) V3 ** Heel Deal. Start on a couple of reasonable, but slopey, holds on the lip. Slap up to reasonable holds on the lip above before scrabbling on to the platform.
(2) V5 ** Little White Lies (sds). Start sat in the small corner beneath the right side of the roof. Follow a line of thin flakes and crimps out to the lip of the roof, where better holds lead to the top.
(3) V7 *** M’as Tu Oublie (sds). Follow White Lies up and around the arete before making a long reach left to the start holds of Heel Deal. Drop down onto these holds and finish up this problem.
The Headland Boulders
(1) V2 ** Block Rockin (sds). The 360 traverse of the lip of the block. The starting point doesn’t really matter so long as you make it the whole way round.
(2) V2 * (sds). Start on good holds in the break above the small corner and move and left through the wall above.
(3) V0 – 4c *** (sds). Start below the small roof and follow good holds along the small corner system to the top of the boulder.
(4) V2 ** Belly Flop (sds). The left side of the small roof, starting from holds on the lip, sucumbs to a determined approach.
(5) V2 ** Beached Whale (sds) Follow the thin crack line, from holds on the lip, through the small roof to an inelegant finish on the slab above.
(1) V1 * Left Wall. The dry patch left of the black streak. Finish on the good jugs at about 3.5m height.
(2) V3 * Iron Monkey. To the right of the wet streak is a line of thin flakes and small pockets. Follow these, avoiding the good holds further right.
(3) V1 The good holds further right………
(4) V1 Seeping Stench. Tip toe your way up the thin patch between the two seepage lines using the odd damp hold.
(1) V0 – 4b * The short sharp arete.
(2) V1 Another short arete, which can be climbed on either side at about the same grade.
(3) V1 * Yet another short arete. This one has a few more holds on the surrounding wall though.
(1) V3 ** High Street (sds). Start at the right edge of the wall beneath a small roof. Pull through the roof on good holds to a large horizontal break. Traverse left, using any holds you can lay your hands on, until the corner at the left end of the wall is reached.
(2) V5 * Low Rider (sds). Follow ‘High Street’ to the large horizontal break. Traverse left, staying at about the same level as the break, until the corner at the left end of the wall is reached.
(3) V4 *** Leap of Faith (sds). Start at a good layaway lowdown. Good holds lead through the small roof to a horizontal break, from here a commiting sequence up the wall and arete leads to the mother of all jugs. Relatively straightforward climbing above this leads to the top (previously a top rope problem).
(4) V2 ** Little Jack Horner. The prominent corner line provides a technical exercise in bridging with commiting moves in a worrying position (previously a top rope problem).
(5) V5 *** Chasing Rainbows. Technical moves up the lower arete lead to worrying slaps and, if you get lucky, frantic scrabbling up the sloping shelf above.
(6) (Unclimbed). Follow a rising diagonal line of holds / discontinuous cracks up the steep wall.
(7) V2 * Finger Licker. The thin finger crack is a fine test of balance, jamming skill and nerve.
Problems also exist on the stepped walls to the left of this area. However, the climbing is quite discontinuous and of relatively little interest.
(1) V1 * The short arete left of the corner at the right side of Headland Wall. A bit of a one-move wonder.
(2) V0 – 4c * The corner itself.
(3) V1 ** The wall to the right of the corner. Avoiding any bridging on the left wall and holds in the crack probably forms the crux!
(1) VB – 4b * The slightly crumbling flake line at the left end of the wall offers suprisingly enjoyable climbing.
(2) V1 ** A stiff pull of small crimps at chest height leads to a big break and a juggy finish.
(3) V1 * Sine Line. Follow the wavey line of flakes up the right side of the wall, trending slightly left above the break.
(4) V0 – 5a * Follow the deep gaping crack.
The walls to the right of Problem (4) are probably best reserved for those who feel they’ve lived too long! The landings are awful, being about 1m wide for the most part, and the top of the wall, which is about 5m up, comprises a sloping shelf with no holds. You have been warned!
(1) V2 * French Ethics. As the name suggests, abandon your normal ethical purity and, from the good undercut sidepull, hop up and left to gain holds in the break. Finish along the diagonal break.
(2) V1 * The short groove.
(3) V0 – 4b * The thin crack at the left end of the wall
(4) V0 – 4c *** Undercut Wall. The middle of the wall, right of the crack, is climbed on an assortment of undercuts and crimps.
(5) V1 * The rightward trending flake line feels slightly off balance and just a little bit exposed.
(6) V2 * Hanging Flake. Right of the bulging blank wall is a hanging flake line. Tricky moves lead to the bottom of this and even trickier moves are required to get established on it.
coming soon… (as a general rule, if you don’t have to project it, its been sent already. Problems up to V10 have been climbed in this area..)
The Other Side
also coming soon… likewise, anything of moderate grade and reasonable height has already been sent 🙂
The Back Beach Boulders
A small collection of boulders in the area of coastline just south of the Back Beach, accessed from a small junction in the road leading to the Headland Area, just before the road starts going uphill.
Rock quality is a bit friable but a few fun problems exist.