Although unlikely to ever become a mainstream climbing destination, it might surprise you that Hong Kong offers one of the best climbing destination in Asia . Whilst other Asian destinations such as Thailand’s Krabi and China’s Yangshuo offer some fantastic climbing in stunning settings, few other areas in Asia can match Hong Kong in terms of the sheer diversity of good quality climbing available in such a short distance from one another, be that multi-pitch mountain or sea cliff routes, superb single pitch sport climbing and bouldering that’ll make your mouth water and your tips bleed!
The epicentre of climbing in Hong Kong is the small island of Tung Lung Chau. Located at the eastern entrance to Victoria Harbour, this pretty much unpopulated island (ferries only run at weekends) includes the best and hardest sport climbing and the undeveloped isolation makes it a good escape to the hustle and bustle of the city.
Towering above the Kowloon Peninsula juts the majestic outcrop of Lion Rock, so called because it apparently looks like a lion when viewed from certain angles (although I’ve never quite managed to determine exactly what angles these are!). Lion Rock was the scene of the first recorded attempts at rock climbing in Hong Kong, in fact, the first foray onto its walls in 1956 resulted in one fatality and a hasty retreat. The first climb was eventually established two years later by two British Army Officers and the resulting route, Wards Groove (F6a+), is now an established classic giving sustained wall and crack climbing up the west face of the crag.
For those who favour a little more solitude to their climbing experience, a trip out to the crags on Lantau Island is a must. The setting of Temple Crag is by far one of the most striking in Hong Kong, being perched high on a hillside overlooking the jagged hills, sweeping sandy beaches and the South China Sea. Add to this a myriad of fine multi-pitch granite slab climbs mostly between F5 and F6b+ and you’ve got the recipe for a great day out. Should this crag not quench you thirst for the day, the nearby Eagle Crag offers some superb seaside bolt clipping between F6c and F7c.
As with most places around the globe, bouldering has seen somewhat of an explosion in popularity in HK in recent years and the Territory now sports over 600 recorded problems up to V10, with huge potential for development of new areas, let alone pushing the boundaries at the areas already established, still abound.
The largest, and best, of the developed areas is located above the town of Tsuen Wan in the New Territories. The hillsides in this area have a liberal scattering of pyroclastic tuff boulders, often stretching to beyond 6m in height. A dedicated effort is required for climbing here as the boulders are only accessible via a slightly harsh 30 minute uphill slog. However, the effort is well worth it as you are rewarded with five different areas packed with quality problems up slabs, aretes, grooves and walls.
Of course, what’s been described above is just the tip of the iceberg, so next time you’re booking a trip to somewhere that requires the hassle of a flight transfer somewhere in Asia why not choose Hong Kong and extend your trip by a few more days, you won’t be disappointed (and if it rains there’s always those crowded shopping malls to hit).