Once one of Hong Kong’s foremost climbing areas but now somewhat of a backwater, the crags of Shek O offer some enjoyable trad and sport climbs in a delightful setting, as well as a handful of quality boulder problems. Some good beaches (Shek O beach and Big Wave Bay) are also located just a stones throw away.
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Shek O is located on the south east side of Hong Kong island. The crags are all located towards the small headland of Tai Tau Chau, approx. 10 mins east of the main village. Take any bus to Shek O from either Exchange Square, Central or Shau Kei Wan bus station. Get off the bus upon entering the small village itself and turn left at the obvious roundabout. Follow the winding road through the village and up the small hill – keeping to the right. At the top of the hill follow a concrete footpath behind a house and down a flight of steps. The footpath leads over a small bridge and onto a headland, which contains all of the climbing areas.
Steep slabs and face climbs on generally solid rough Granite. Of the three climbing areas both the Main Face and Rubble Zawn comprise mainly sport climbs whilst Gaping Zawn is almost entirely trad. The bouldering ranges from short steep walls to highball face climbs. Due to the hard granite landings, a bouldering mat or two is definitely recommended.
Follow the concrete footpath over the small bridge and onto the headland of Tai Tau Chau. Continue up some steps and around the lefthand side of the island. After a short distance a deep narrow zawn can be seen cutting across the island. Follow the overgrown path down the hill into the base of this. The shaded aspect of the zawn makes it a bit of a mosquito breeding ground during the summer months.
1 – No Small Potato * – E1 5b
The obvious cleaned groove/corner. Take small/ medium wires to a two bolt lower off. FA: Steve Hartley & Andy Vosper (1993)
2 – Bus Mans Holiday – HVS 5a
Start 4m right of 1, take the open groove, moving left finish as 1. FA: Steve Hartley & Andy Vosper (1993)
3 – Bombs Away – E3 5c
Start as for 2 and take the vein/crack direct. Medium nuts and friends. FA: Steve Hartley, Andy Vosper 1993
4 – Steppin’ Out – F7b?
Start just right of a niche below a smooth wall. Climb the wall and move up through the overlaps to finish up a steep slab. F.A Andy Vosper (1993)
5 – Sendere Luminoso – F7b+
The central crackline direct. Sporty clips! F.A. Unknown
6 – Can U Dig It – HVS 5a
The obvious ramp line. Friends, wires and nuts. FA: Bill Winters & John Jefferies (1993)
7 – Crackers HVS 5b
The vertical crack line leading into and finishing as 6. Nuts and friends. FA: Andy Vosper & Steve Hartley (1993)
8 – Spice – E3 5b
An under cut start 5m right of 7 follows the quartz vein and rugosities. Bold with sparse protection on small wires and friends, large friend for direct finish. FA: Andy Vosper & Steve Hartley (1993)
9 – Gang of Four – HVS 5a
Starts 5m right of 8 and follows the curving crack line finish as for 8. Small/ medium friends. FA: S Hartley, A Vosper, Brenda Loo & Andy Crooksley (1993)
Traditionally protected wall all climbs on slightly friable granite. The Sea should be fairly calm as the zawn acts as a funnel and huge waves can soak the whole wall. The wall will remain damp after fog or rain.
Routes 1,2 & 3: Follow the concrete path almost to the summit of Tai Tau Chau, bearing slightly right before the pagoda to reach a barbecue pit. Scramble down the steep rock wall beneath this, occassional rope left in place by fishermen, before heading left to a large rock platform beneath the wall.
Route 4: Traverse the top of the wall and abseil in to a hanging stance at the base of the crack.
Routes 5 & 6: Continue along the concrete path to the far end of Tai Tau Chau and approach from the right of the crag by low traverse. A calm sea helps, alot…
Traverse the top of the wall left to right. F.A. Mark Gray & Richard Spillet
2 – Groove Armarda – HS
Climb the first groove line on the left of the wall, starting up the large obvious leftward slanting crack. F.A Unknown
3 – Monster Mozaic – E4 6b
Take a line directly up the thin groove at the left hand side of the wall, through the overlaps. F.A. Glen Suttcliff & Pete Cresswell (1995)
4 – Lands End * – E1 5b
Step across the top of the zawn using a horizontal crack. Follow rising traverse and continue up by a series of laybacks to reach a flake on the top block. Swing out, move up trending slightly left to top. F.A. John.Gosling (1993)
5 – Adrenaline – E1 5b
Start as for Lands End. After second overhanging block traverse right under overlap. A long stride right leads to a vertical crack, continue straight up this.Take friends. F.A. J.Gosling & P Dockery (1993)
6 – Whose Line is it Anyway ** – E2 5c
Awesomely steep crackline on RH side of main wall. Abseil in to hanging stance. Medium friends and wires. F.A. Unknown.
7 – Suprise – E3 5c
Follow the steep crack until at base of recess. Use a finger crack on the left wall to reach high and continue up before stepping across the crack to belay. Head up the wall before traversing left to the skyline. Swing low around the corner beneath overhanging boss, surmount this directly and follow to top. Very exposed. F.A. J.Gosling & P Dockery (1993)
8 – Original Route – HVS 5a
The crack/corner line to the right of the main face. F.A. J.Gosling &P Dockery (1993)
Half a dozen sport climbs on very compact near vertical granite and some short, sparcely protected traditional climbs. The lower portion of the wall with the sport routes on can often remain damp after rain or a big swell.
Continue along the concrete path until it starts to descend towards the sea at the southern end of the headland. Not long after the path starts descending a few dirt paths become apparent to the left. Follow any of these through the vegetation to some cliffs. A short easy scramble down the left hand side of the cliff (looking out to sea) leads to a large platform beneath a long short wall. This wall contains a collection of easy trad climbs and a few harder top rope problems. The main climbing, however, is located beyond the left edge of this wall, at a slightly lower level.
1 – Cornflake – F6c
A pleasant start on good holds leads to some positive side pulls. From these thick skin and faith in friction are required to reach the lower off. F.A. Unknown
2 – F6a**
The leftwards trending flake gives a short pleasant outing. F.A. Unknown
3 – F6c
The lefthand start to the the flake line has one very stiff move low down followed by some more enjoyable climbing above. F.A. Unknown
4 – F6b+
The thin parallel seams starting half way down the sloping ledge gives some insecure moves on often damp rock. Finish by either traversing right into Route 3 or, more enjoyably, left into Route 5 F.A. Unknown
5 – F6c+***
A superb outing giving a direct line up the tallest part of the wall. Start on the ledge just right of a wide chimney crack and climb the wall above. F.A. Unknown
Access to Main Wall – Far Left and Beginners Wall is by following the concrete path to its very end.
Pleasant, long, typically well protected traditional climbs on generally sound granite. The best approach is to make a leftwards sea level traverse around the headland from the climbing area at Main Wall.
1 – Hickory ** – HS 4b
On the right side of the buttress is a groove running up the nose. Follow this to its end at about two-thirds height before breaking left slightly to a positive flake. Finish up the hanging groove above. F.A. Unknown
2 – Dickory ** – VS 5a
Start in the centre of the wall, on top of the large boulder, and follow the vertical seam up the slabby wall to reach a horizontal break and welcome protection. Carefully continue up the wall to the next break before launching up the left side of hanging nose via layback cracks and a hidden foothold. Finish directly up the front of the nose itself. F.A. Unknown
3 – Forgotten Friend – HS 4a
Start to the left of the leaning boulder up a short section of overhanging crack to a small overlap. Step left around the overlap and continue up the crack to the top. F.A. B. Heard & Q. Ford (1992)
4 – Dockery ** – HS 4b
The last of the major crack line on the left side of the crag. Follow this with increasing difficulty as the crack steepens and thins. F.A. Unknown