Mount Nicholson

Background

Mount Nicholson is located on Hong Kong Island, high above Wong Nai Chung Gap road and facing towards Kowloon. The quality of slab and crack climbing, not to mention fantastic views across Victoria Harbour and the height above the valley (which makes this a quiet location) all make for a great day out.   The climbing is technical,  well protected and typically in the F6a to F6c grade range, meaning it is likely to be of interest to the broad climbing community. In particular, some routes require sequences or a combination of climbing styles unlikely to be found on granite crags elsewhere in the region, adding to the character of climbing at this venue.

The routes on Mount Nicholson are predominantly bolt protected. However, prior to the recent development several traditionally protected routes had already been established on the Right Wall by Tom Chew, Gianni ‘Franco’ Bigazzi and Richard Cuncliffe (and potentially others before them). These routes remain unbolted as they follow prominent crack lines and are well protected.  Climbers competent in placing traditional protection are encouraged to repeat these fantastic lines.

Fixed Protection

All sport climbs described in this guide have been equipped with marine grade 316 stainless steel resin bolts, spaced at appropriate intervals to avoid ground falls and protect hard sections of climbing. In all cases, gaining the anchors by aiding past hard sections is possible to prevent a leader having to lower off a single bolt in the event the climb cannot be completed.  A ground fall would result in a difficult evacuation off the crag therefore bolts are closely spaced near the ground and positioned appropriately higher up to ensure the climbing remains safe and enjoyable.

All lower off’s consist of 2 bolts fitted with rappel rings. All routes are described from left to right as you face a cliff and the majority can be climbed using a single 60m rope. Despite being a predominantly single pitch climbing venue, several routes on the main cliff and right wall extend over 30m in length so a 70m rope is required to lower a climber to the ground. Ensure that a knot is tied in the end of your rope.

As for any sport climbing area, in order to minimize wearing of the lowering rings, top roping should be conducted using your own quick draws and the anchor threaded only when descending for the final time.  The number of bolts listed for each route does NOT include any quick draws required when top roping off the lower off.

The shortest routes require a minimum of 8 quick draws, and the longer routes at least 20 quick draws.

Directions and Access

MNaccessMap

Initially it is recommended to start at the World War II bunkers, opposite the Hong Kong tennis centre, because this provides an easy landmark on Wong Nai Chung Gap Road. From there a concrete path leads into the jungle and is followed for approximately 15 minutes, around the hillside, to a concrete water channel. Continue for a further 10 minutes along the path and around several bends, until a large tree, white spray-painted dot and rock cairn indicate the access route off the path to the climbing area.

From the main path, white spray-painted arrows lead up the gully, to a junction where to the left a short approach with a hand-line brings you to the base of a small compact wall of excellent rock (routes 1 – 4).

Directly ahead from the junction is the base of a steep rock gully and the start of a 2 pitch sport climb (“First Way In”), which can be climbed in one long 50 m pitch, or split into 2 separate pitches.

The main climbing area is accessed by following the path and hand-lines to the right, with one section featuring a series of galvanized steel rungs that have been glued into the rock.

MNaccess1

Image of the path junction where straight ahead is the start of routes 5 and 6. To the left is the Lower Wall and to the right; hand lines lead up to the main climbing area.

The path continues above this section and ends at the top of the gully and the bolt belay of route #6. From here a thick rope hand-line leads around the top of the gully and up a short slope to Main Wall. Just above this, another hand-line leads up to Right Wall.

The short rock wall and ladder way on the approach to the main climbing area

The short rock wall and ladder way on the approach to the main climbing area

MNaccess3

The ‘short cut’ off Wong Nai Chung Gap Road follows the slope inspection ladder way and joins the main path at the start of the concrete channel. This provides a much quicker route, but note that it is steep in some places and very visible from the road. Please be discreet if choosing to use this approach. Please also beware that a fall from the slope would likely be fatal and any material dislodged could land on the road below.

Bunkers opposite the tennis center on Wong Nai Chung Gap road

Bunkers opposite the tennis center on Wong Nai Chung Gap road

In general, climbers are reminded of the residential areas below Mount Nicholson that have a full view of the climbing area.

Routes

Lower Wall

A short wall of excellent rock and 4 easily accessible climbs. Why not combine these routes with the multi pitch climb in Shoot Gully for a short afternoon session.  Follow the hand lines and short path on your left upon reaching the top of the rock gully. Climbs are described left to right.

Lower Wall (Routes 2 to 4)

Lower Wall (Routes 2 to 4)

1 – Jungle Warfare – F5 *
10m, 7 Bolts
FA: Francis Haden, Daniel Hannah, Connie Choy, KK Leung, Jonathan Knipper 06/10/2013

2 – Full Breach – F6a+ *
9m, 6 Bolts.  The hardest part of this is climb is managing to get off the ground! The second clip is hard so you may want to pull on the first bolt to pre-clip the second bolt then step back down.
FA: Francis Haden, Daniel Hannah, Connie Choy, KK Leung, Jonathan Knipper 06/10/2013

3 – Right Face – F6b *
9m, 5 Bolts
FA: Francis Haden, Daniel Hannah, Connie Choy, KK Leung, Jonathan Knipper 06/10/2013

4 – Stand and Deliver – F6b+
11m, 6 Bolts. Climb easily to the base of the vertical seam then fight your way to the anchor.
FA: Francis Haden, Daniel Hannah, Connie Choy, KK Leung, Jonathan Knipper 06/10/2013

Shoot Gully

Follow the approach to the foot of a large rock gully and a line of bolts will be seen on the right side. “First Way In” can be led in a single pitch provided slings are used to extend runners, or it should be split into 2 pitches. Both belays are equipped with abseil rings, which provides an anchor for abseil descent from the main climbing areas above if required. It is recommended to wear helmets when climbing this route in case stones are dislodged by climbers on the tiers above.

5 – H.E.S.H – F6c,
15m, 8 Bolts. Start inside the gully, on the left side below a rounded arête. Cruise the lower arête to a pocket and opportunity to ponder the challenge above. Step up on apparently nothing, slap the arête and explode to catch a good set of edges.
FA: Francis Haden, Daniel Hannah, KK Leung 06/10/2013

6 – First Way In – F4+ *
Pitch 1:  F4, 17m, 8 Bolts
Pitch 2:  F4+, 19m, 6 Bolts
FA: Tom Chew, Richard Cuncliffe, Gianni ‘Franco’ Bigazzi June 2009

Main Wall

This sector features 13 routes on the upper tier and 2 routes below on a compact slab of excellent rock. Traverse across the top of Shoot Gully, taking great care not to fall or to dislodge any stones below and follow the hand line up a short slope to a terrace. “Skirmish” takes a line immediately above the entry slope. In front of this are hand-lines leading down to the left and main way to the majority of other climbs on this wall. Directly ahead are routes; 17 – 18 at the end of the terrace.

MN_MainWall_1

Main Wall (Routes 7 to 9)

7 – Parting Shot – F5
10m, 5 Bolts. The small arête is climbed face-on to the half-height ledge, with a final move just below the anchor.
FA: Francis Haden, Connie Choy, Leung King Keung, Donna Kwok, Jonathan Knipper, Eugenie Knipper 11/08/2013

8 – Cornered – F6b *
12m, 7 Bolts. The technical corner is a grade harder for those lacking reach.
FA: Francis Haden, Connie Choy, Leung King Keung, Donna Kwok, Jonathan Knipper, Eugenie Knipper 11/08/2013

9 – Battle in Vein – F6a **
17m, 10 Bolts. Fun climbing but a long move over the lower bulge. Impossible for short climbers!
FA: Francis Haden, Connie Choy, Leung King Keung, Donna Kwok, Jonathan Knipper, Eugenie Knipper 11/08/2013

10 – No Time for Surrender – F6c *
22m, 14 Bolts.
FA: Francis Haden, Connie Choy, Leung King Keung, Donna Kwok, Jonathan Knipper, Eugenie Knipper 11/08/2013

Main Wall (Routes 10 to 12)

Main Wall (Routes 10 to 12)

11 – In Memoriam – F6b+
30m, 16 Bolts. The vertical crack may stop some climbers otherwise passing the roof presents additional difficulties. The final slab high above the valley presents a thinking finish.
FA: Francis Haden, Connie Choy, Leung King Keung, Donna Kwok 11/08/2013

12 – Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence – F6c *
34m, 15 Bolts. Some soft rock below the roof, otherwise an excellent, long climb with stunning views from the top slab. The main difficulties end shortly above the roof, leaving a fantastic finish on perfect rock with technical moves and plenty of bolts.
FA: Francis Haden, Daniel Hannah, KK Leung 06/10/2013

Main Wall (Routes 13 to 15)

Main Wall (Routes 13 to 15)

13 – Mary Jane Rotten Crotch – F6c,
15m, 8 Bolts. Climb easily to the raised ledge and clip a bolt in the bulge above. Commit to a boulder sequence and thereafter gain jugs below a second bulge. Step right into the open groove, which follows with a long reach just below the anchor. The belayer should be careful not to have too much slack rope out when the leader is climbing off the raised ledge.
FA: Francis Haden, Gordon Jenkin, Jonathan Knipper 10/03/2013

 14 – We Shall Suffer There – F6c+ *
15m, 7 Bolts. Reasonable climbing leads up the wall to a hard finish over the roof.
FA: Francis Haden, Gordon Jenkin, Jonathan Knipper 10/03/2013

15 – Snake in a Break – F6a+ *
10m, 6 Bolts. Check out the snakeskin in the upper most horizontal break!
FA: Francis Haden, Donna Kwok, Gordon Jenkin, Jonathan Knipper 10/03/2013

16 – War and Peace – F6c **
32m, 17 Bolts. Slightly awkward start leads to a finger flake and short hand traverse right into a groove and a small ledge. Assault the groove above and battle on to a standing rest where the angle eases beneath a looming bulge. Technical moves using a mono pocket gain hand jams beneath the bulge and a traverse right along the break until it is possible to reach over to holds on the slab. With the battle over, enjoy the superb finishing moves to the anchor.
FA: Francis Haden, Donna Kwok 15/09/2013

Main Wall (Routes 17 and 18)

Main Wall (Routes 17 and 18)

17 – Contact Right – F6b *
32m, 18 Bolts . Fun climbing on the lower section leads to a superbly positioned finish. An ending, which must rank as one of the best in Hong Kong.
FA: Francis Haden, Donna Kwok, Jonathan Knipper, Eugenie Knipper 11/08/2013

18 – B-52 – F5+
10m, 6 Bolts. The left-facing corner is climbed to a rest below the final, capping bulge.
FA: Ron Roy 29/09/2013

19 – Skirmish – F6c *
18m, 9 Bolts. Technical climbing on good rock; however the rock at the start is friable in places. Stay right of the initial few bolts (good holds on the right) then step left into the crack. Follow the crack until thin moves lead leftwards across the slab gain good holds and an easy finish.
FA: Francis Haden, Donna Kwok 15/09/2013

Main Wall – Lower Slab

From the main access route, a series of hand lines lead down to the top of the lower slab and an abseil in using the bolt belay. Excellent rock and reasonable length make both routes enjoyable.

20 – Co Op – F5 *
18m, 10 Bolts. Fun slab climbing and a short crux.
FA: Jonathan Knipper, Francis Haden, Daniel Hannah 06/10/2013

The last new route sent by the team, ironically next to the first route to be climbed all those months ago!

21 – Lawson’s Last Stand – F6b+ *
18m, 9 Bolts. A precarious boulder problem start, many will rush to attack, only to be dispatched. Brigadier Lawson made his last stand in the defence of Hong Kong close to where the trail starts at the WW 2 bunkers opposite the tennis club.
FA: Francis Haden, Donna Kwok 10/03/2013

Right Wall

High quality granite and long routes. Follow the hand-line that leads up from the top of Shoot Gully to a small clearing. Routes 22 – 26 start from here. The trail continues above to the remainder of routes.

Right Wall

Right Wall

22 – On the Edge F6a+ *
15m, 8 Bolts.  The leftward traverse and line of bolts lead to a superb, technical arête that is followed to a lower off beneath a roof.
FA: Francis Haden, Daniel Hannah, Connie Choy, KK Leung, Jonathan Knipper 06/10/2013

23 – Firepower – F6c *
F6c, 12m, 5 Bolts. The vertical flake in the wall leads to a pure power crux. Blast it!
FA: Francis Haden, Daniel Hannah, Connie Choy, KK Leung, Jonathan Knipper 06/10/2013

Francis Haden on Red Cross 11 (E3 5c) Photo: Dan Hannah

Francis Haden on Red Cross 11 (E3 5c) Photo: Dan Hannah

Right Wall (Routes 24 to 26)

Right Wall (Routes 24 to 26)

24 – Red Cross 11 – F6b / E3 5c
Option 1. F6b 12m.
Option 2. E3 5c 40m,
FA: Tom Chew, Richard Cuncliffe 08/11/2009

Originally protected as a single, long traditional route, the initial poorly protected lower section and sustained upper crack represented a serious undertaking. Attempts at a second ascent by one party resulted in a near ground fall off the lower crux and hospital visit to the nearby Adventist Hospital. The route name is derived from the eleven stitches required to ‘repair’ the wound in the leader’s head!

With the lower section now retro bolted (with permission of the first ascentionist) the combination of a safe, bolt protected start and well-protected upper crack provide a fantastic combination that is a rarity in Hong Kong. The continuation above the anchor is protected using nuts (sizes 4 – 10), cams (sizes 1.5 – 4) and a sling for a thread. The E3 grade applies to both sections led as one continuous pitch.

25 – Crossfire – F6b+
10m, 8 Bolts. Start as for Red Cross 11 and follow this to the second bolt. Move right onto the flake and stand up to clip a bolt on the wall above. A sustained sequence leads up the wall until it is possible to join Red Cross 11 by the downward pointing flakes. Follow the final moves of RC 11 to the lower anchor.
FA: Francis Haden, Daniel Hannah 29/09/2013

26 – Underworld – HVS 5b
20m, Follow the lower crack that runs parallel to New World to the anchor of New World. The start is marked by a large fallen rock pinned behind a tree.
FA: Geordie Yip, Tom Chew 26/07/2009

The following routes (27 – 30) start from a platform accessed from the right end of the crag.

27 – New World – E1 5a
26m Step off the left end of the platform; climb over a blocky overhang (3 bolts) and into a crack above.  Stay in the right hand diagonal crack, past several trees and the off-width upper portion of the crack to the twin bolt top anchor.
FA: Tom Chew, Richard Cuncliffe, Ed Pramuk 06/12/2009

Dan Hannah on Stealth (F6c) Photo: Francis Haden

Dan Hannah on Stealth (F6c) Photo: Francis Haden

28 – Stealth – F6c ***
17m, 11 Bolts. An outstanding wall climb that is likely to receive many ascents. Superbly positioned, this must rank as one of the best climbs of its type in Hong Kong. Start as for New World and step right onto the wall at the 4th bolt. Once established on the wall, a long reach up left gains a scooped pocket and the start of a technical sequence up the feint weakness. The angle subsequently eases and provides a welcome respite before final moves gain the anchor. This is very well protected and an ideal route for those looking to try something harder.
FA: Francis Haden, Donna Kwok, Daniel Hannah 29/09/2013

29 – Out Flanked – F6a+ *
17m, 8 Bolts. Initially climb the crack line of Squeeze Top but break out left at the fourth bolt and climb the wall.
FA: Francis Haden, Donna Kwok, Jonathan Knipper 08/09/2013

30 – Squeeze Top – HVS 5a
17m. Climb the latitudinal crack on the right into a pocket then over the bulge (crux).  Finish up the corner and into the squeeze chimney at the left side of the roof top to twin bolt anchor with rap rings on left side.
FA: Tom Chew, Ed Pramuk June 2009

31 – Against the Odds – Open Project
12m, 8 Bolts. Climbing to the third bolt is easy! A powerful reach above gains reasonable, angled holds and the prospect of a very powerful mantle or step up to stand in the scoop. Hard moves to exit the scoop gain a good finger pocket and a move left to stand in a large pocket. Stroll casually to the anchor!

32 – European Route – F6a+ *
Pitch 1: F5+, 16m, 8 Bolts, Pitch 2: F6a+, 10m, 6 Bolts. Protected traditionally on the 1st ascent, this climb was retro-bolted with permission of the first ascentionist. The climb has been split into separate pitches for reasons of grade and rope management. If intending to combine both pitches it is suggested to use long slings under the roof and progressively un-clip the lower bolts as bolts above are passed. With the last bolt under the roof on a long sling, subsequent bolts above can be clipped with short quick draws without any significant rope drag.
FA: Gianni ‘Franco’ Bigazzi, Richard Cuncliffe June & October 2009

Donna Kwok on European Route (F6a+) Photo: Jonathan Knipper

Donna Kwok on European Route (F6a+) Photo: Jonathan Knipper

Postscript

The development of Mount Nicholson has taken considerable time and effort to transform a vertical jungle into a venue we can enjoy on our weekends. The vegetation growth is fast and if not managed by visiting climbers, it will grow back!

Climbers are encouraged to remove vegetation from climbs and carry a pair of cutters to trim the branches along the access trails.

Francis Haden, October 2013

Advertisements

2 responses to “Mount Nicholson

  1. Be careful at 6 first way in, today I pull down a big lost rock from pitch one, lucky no one hurt.

  2. Pingback: New Development at Mount Nicholson | hong kong climbing·

Leave a Reply to Jason Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s