By far the quickest and easiest of the boulders to get to, and with one of the more varied circuits, these are the boulders most frequented by Hong Kong’s climbers. Having said this, it’s very rare that you’ll actually meet other climbers up there unless you’ve already arranged to do so!
The easiest approach via public transport is to take the MTR to Tsuen Wan and then get a taxi to the end of On Yat Street (ask for Tsuen Wai Fa Yuen). From the end of the road, walk along a concrete footpath which heads left until you reach a small bridge. This point can also be reached by taking the 39M bus from Tsuen Wan to the TL Adventist Hospital and walking up the concrete staircase opposite the hospital entrance.
Once you’ve crossed the bridge turn right and continue up the hill to a catchwater (this point can also be reached by car – very limited parking). Continue up the concrete path for about 1/2km until a path breaks right. Contour the hillside a short way on this path before continuing all the way up the hill to small shelter at its top. Turning right on to a small dirt track leads to the Ha Fa Shan Boulders (approx. 5 minutes away), whilst breaking left off the main track and following a dirt path leads to all the other areas (all approx. 25 minutes away).
If heading to the Tip Off Sector, it is also possible (and slightly less arduous) to take the trail slightly further along the catchwater (about 100 m to the right) of the one described above. Follow this to its end at a ramshackle squatter area and then double back left, through a gate and onto a dirt path. Follow this up the hill a short way until the path splits, taking the righthand path up the hill, through some graves and eventually emerging close to Pockets Wall.
The Summit Boulders
The first two blocs reached, sat atop the hill and with jaw dropping backdrops, offer a good selection of mid-grade problems, some scary highballs, as well as one of the hardest problems in Hong Kong
1) The Classic *** V2
From pockets on the far left hand side of the boulder traverse rightwards along the lip, via an assortment of pockets, jugs and crimps, to the large slopey hold on the far right of the face. Mantleshelf this to the top. A problem which defines the word Classic!
2) North of America (sds) * V4.
Start on two good pockets and launch upwards for good holds at the lip. Mantle to finish.
3) Canadian Influence (sds) * V4
From pockets on the wall reach up to small holds on the sloping shelf above.
4) 螳螂拳 (Mantis Boxing) **V10/11
An audacious and desperate line up the tiny crimps and pockets (mostly mono’s) on the left side of the steep, narrow and high face at the end of the boulder. Demands strength, technique and balls in equal measure…
5) Shoji’s Arete * V8
Start on the main protrusion for left and a small crimp below the break for the right. Using a variety of small holds on the face, as well as holds on and just around the right arete (but avoiding the flake on Aretenaphobia – if you use this you may as well just climg Aretenaphobia..), climb the right side of the steep face, staying on the left side of the arete throughout.
1) Arêtenaphobia ** V4
The right hand arête of the slightly overhanging face gives a testing problem. Start on the pebble on the left wall and flake (if you can reach it, otherwise the pebble below) and stay true to the arête for the top out.
2) Arêtenaphobia (sds) ** V5
Sit start to the right of the arête at the obvious juggy ledge (shorties will need to pad stack for this). Move up to the pebbles at the start of the stand version and then finish as for that line.
3) Rock n Roll ** V1
Start with both hands in the thin flake and pull up onto the wall above (without using the arête to the right or the big ledge above you once stood up). Finish up the wall on small pockets.
4) Summit Arete ** VB
The delightful sharp arête. Can be climbed slightly further left at about V1 too.
5) Summit Slab * VB
Follow the line of shallow pockets up the slabby main face of the boulder.
6) The Bump * V0
Pull through the small overlap and continue up the pockets above.
1) Gaston * V3
The thin crack on the left hand side of the face is awkward yet strangely satisfying.
2) V-Notch ** V1
The middle of the face from a stand start
3) V-Notch Sit (sds) ** V4
Sit start (one pad max) and use the bottom of the left side pull and one of the low right hand crimps to lift your butt off the floor (crux). Once lifted, crank through to the start holds on the stand start and finish up this. If your butt wasn’t the last thing to leave the floor, you cheated…
4) Self Explosion (sds) * V7
An eliminate starting as for Problem #3, but staying left of the V-notch and climbing through the bulge on small holds to finish (avoiding the crack on Problem #1).
5) Stretch and Slap * V2
The righthand side of the face. Start at an undercut and use small pockets and slopey side pulls to make upwards progress.
6) The Missing Piece ** V2
Climb the right arête of the face, making use of small pebbles and flakes around the corner.
1) The Rib * V1
The rib on the left of the face, climbed on its right side.
2) The Groove ** V2
The prominent left hand groove line has a tricky start and an exposed end.
3) Ramp and Wall *** V3
The ramp and wall to the left of the arete. The crux is at the top when you’re a long way above the floor!
4) Billy No Mates ** V3
Starting left of ‘The Arete’ attack the narrow face right of Ramp and Wall.
5) The Arete *** V1
A gem of a problem up the rounded arete.
The Hillside Boulders
The Slapper Bloc
The Slapper Bloc is located a short stroll down the hill on the eastern side of the Summit Boulders. The bloc includes a number of short test pieces, as well as a couple of desperate traverses
1) Dirty Slapper * V4
Start on a poor side pull for the right and a small sharp pocket for the left. Lift your feet off the floor and slap high and left for a sloping ledge and good side pull (avoiding the lower holds on the left side of the bloc). Rockover or mantle to finish. A morpho problem that the small will hate whilst the tall will love…
2) Dirty Slapper Ext. ** V6
A harder start to Dirty Slapper is possible traversing in from small crimps to the right to join, and finish up, the original line.
2a) Dirty Slapper Extended Ext ** V7
The second half of Fung’s Traverse (see below), from the mid-way jug onwards, provides a testing and extremely crimpy line in its
X) Deadly Balance * V7
Start on the Dirty Slapper Ext crimps and attack the face directly above (avoiding any use of the crack out right)
3) Fung’s Traverse (sds) ** V8
of the arête. From here, traverse left following a line of crimps until it is possible to join and finish up Dirty Slapper Ext..
4) The Crack ** V2
Follow the diagonal crack line.
5) Nose Direct ** V2
Start on the good jugs and pull up and right onto the nose above. Top out using sloping holds.
5a) Nose Indirect (sds) ** V6
Link the start of Fung’s Traverse to the finish of Nose Direct for a powerful and crimpy line.
6) Slapper Traverse ** V7
Starting on the good jugs at the beginning of Nose Direct, traverse right (keeping relatively low) on tiny holds to join a diagonal line of small sharp holds and slopers. Finish up these.
6a) Chief Slapper (sds) ** V8
The sit start to Slapper Traverse, starting beneath the good jugs at the beginning of Nose Direct. Crank up to these and then
follow the Slapper Traverse to finish.
7) Slapper Left (sds) ** V4
Start sat at the large undercut hold. Pull up using this before moving left up the blunt arete to eventually reach the finishing holds on Nose Direct.
8) Slapper * V2
Start on the large undercut and climb the wall above via some rather poor slopers.
9) Flake and Mantle ** VB
The righthand side of the face using the large flake.
Jon’s Traverse Bloc
A short way further down the hillside is a small boulder with a triangular lower face, containing a collection of awesome V4’s.
1) Jon’s Traverse *** V4
An excellent problem. Start at the arête on the right side of the boulder. Traverse left with feet just above the floor to eventually finish on the slab around the corner.
2) Sick Puppy ** V4
Start on good crimps either side of the arête. Climb up from these via the rounded arête and pebbles. Stay true to the arête to finish.
3) Nipple Grazer * V4
Start at the good side pulls approx. half way along Jon’s traverse. Climb straight up from these. A dyno from these holds to the top has been oft attempted but seldom latched!
4) Gordon’s Pocket (sds) * V5
Sit start at a layback on the left side of the block. Reach out right to poor holds before bumping up to to a big pocket on the slab above (avoiding holds on the left arête). Finish more easily above this.
Dave’s Traverse Bloc
Follow the dirt trail south from Jon’s Traverse, staying at about the same elevation, for about 50 m to reach this bloc. Although only containing one problem (and a variant thereof), the slopey body pump of Dave’s Traverse is a rite of passage for any aspiring Hong Kong boulderer and a must visit
1) Dave’s Traverse (sds) *** V5
A full body pump of a problem along the rounded boulder. From the short overhanging arête on the left of the boulder and a small crimp right of this, fight your way rightwards along the lip, pulling onto the slab only when you can traverse right no more. Top of the grade.
1a) V6: Eliminate the low block for feet just past halfway to add a bit more fight to those final moves just as the arms are giving out…
1b) V6: Start matched on the very left arete of the block. Although only adding one extra move, this adds a whole heap of extra effort overall (the foot block from Option 1a is either in or out for this variant – although slightly harder without, it’s not enough to bump the grade up any further)
2) Saved Traverse (sds) ** V3
Because it’s (sort of) Dave’s Traverse backwards. Sit start on the right side of the boulder, at a positive layaway. Traverse left following the holds on (and just above/below) the lip, past the end of Dave’s Traverse, until it is possible to reach a diagonal crack about 2/3 of the way back along Dave’s. Pull through the lip using this. A full continuation further along Dave’s looks possible, topping out using the pocket/pebble near the start.
Black Streak Boulder
Located about 10 m further south of Dave’s Traverse, The Black Streak Bloc contains a number of slightly highball problems that will get the heart fluttering a little…
1) Horror Arete * V4
The striking tall arête yields via small sharp pockets and lay aways. Terrifying…
2) Black Slab * V2
The left-hand side of the slab.
3) The Black Streak *** V3
The centre of the slab, veering slightly right near the top.
4) Black Streak (Left) ** V4
A slightly harder variant on the slab, staying more to the left and focussing on reaching the ‘positive lip’ directly via a committing rock over onto the thin rail above the overlap and then thin moves up using pebbles and pockets.
5) Thin Crack Rib ** V3
The leftwards trending thin crack on the right side of the wall provides a tenuous and technical line.
6) The Black Rib (sds) V5
The rib on the right side of the boulder, starting from the two pockets in the middle of the face. An easier V3 stand start variant can also be climbed from the higher pocket and the crack to the left.
Just up and around the corner from Horror Arete there is also a long standing project focussed around the high pocket:
1) Project (sds)
Sit start using the deep pocket and fee just above the low shelf, which is off route. Climb the left side of the wall using holds on the arete and face to the right until it is possible to make committing moves to the deep large pocket high up. Finish above this.
Located 20 m south of The Black Streak are two blocs sitting on the hill slope (Rocky’s Blocs). The contain a number of short, but testing, problems.
1) U Four (sds) * V5
The left side of the left arête of the bloc.
2) Claw (sds) * V6
Sit beneath the left end of the wall, realize how the problem got its name, and climb straight up the bulge with assistance from the left arête.
3) Slope Direct (sds) * V7
Left of the crack is a horizontal sloper, start on this and finish directly above.
4) Project (sds)
The sit start to the crack line.Come on all you strong kids! Pull your finger out and get this sent already…
5) V Ten (sds) * V7
From small crimps low on the wall, crank to the lip and mantle to finish.
6) Angels Traverse (sds) * V5
Start on the right of the small overhanging face and traverse the sloping shelf.
On the right side of this boulder is another steep face with the following lines
1) The Slab * VB
The easy concave slab
2) The Origin ** V2
The arête on the right side of the slab, from a stand and on its steep right side.
3) The Origin (sds) ** V3
The same arete as above, but this time from a sit start on the small bloc below the wall.
4) The Origin Low (sds) * V7
An even lower start to the sds, moving from a pocket on the left face and some small crimps on the right into the normal sds start.
The next lines all tackle the face to the right of the arete:
5) Odyssey ** V3
Start at a positive pocket in the middle of the face. Move right across the face to another good jug and then top out on to the slab right of this.
6) Odyssey (sds) ** V7
Sit start on the left arête of the face as for The Origin (sds). Follow the arête (staying on its right side) to the good jug before making hard moves right to gain, and finish up, Odyssey.
7) Odyssey Low (sds) * V8
Start even lower, as for The Origin Low, and then follow the arete (on its steep side) to finish as for Odyssey (sds)
8) Berserker ** V4
Start on the good pocket in the middle of the face (right) and a small pebble crimp left of this (left). Move dynamically up the wall above to a jug and then top out.
9) Berserker (sds) ** V6
Add a sit start to the above line, from a pebble and pocket down and right of the original start holds.
10) Apple of Eden (sds) V5
Sit start using the pebble and pocket low on the right side of the face. Move directly up from these (avoiding straying to the right) to join the finish of Odyssey.
11) Dakini * V4
Start from the good pocket on the right side of the face and do the traverse across the face right to left, finishing up the arête.
The next lines are located on the smaller bloc just upslope of Rocky’s Boulder:
7) Rocky’s Traverse (sds) * V8
Start on the triangle shaped hold at the left end of the boulder. Make thin powerful moves right to the arete and continue around this on sloping holds to finish where the face steepens up.
8) Air Jet (sds) ** V4
Start on low crimps and make a rising traverse left and up via positive side pulls and pockets.
Moon Festival Blocs
A few small blocs located on the hillside immediately downslope from Rocky’s Boulders, just beneath the main footpath traversing across to the Lower Boulders.
1) Jade Rabbit (sds) V0
Start at the good jug.
2) Mooncake (sds) V2
Start with a pocket on the right and small ledge (or undercling) for the left.
3) Chang’e (sds) V2
Start as for Jade Rabbit and make a traverse to Mooncake, which is then followed to the top.
4) Full Moon (sds) V3
Avoid using the big platform on the right.
5) Over the Moon (sds) VB
Start at the good jug.
6) Fly me to the Moon (sds) V1
Start with a good crimpy pinch and make one big dynamic move to the obvious pocket above.
7) The Moon on a Stick (sds) V0
Start as for the previous problem but this time make use of intermediary holds to gain the jug on the top left corner of the face.
The Tip Off Boulder
A late addition to the bouldering at Ha Fa Shan following a ‘tip off’ to Stuart Millis from the Obe Wan of Hong Kong Climbing, Martin Lancaster (who also had a bit of a resemblance to Alex Guiness at the time, as well as being the font of knowledge for HK Climbing in the 1990’s). Now you know where some of the names came from 😉
1) Sideshow Bob V3
A relatively poor, in comparison to the other problems, line up the thin pockets immediately left of the scooped wall, finishing over the suspiciously hollow flake.
2) Scoup de Grace *** V5
A delightful problem that feels frustratingly desperate for the grade until you’ve unlocked the sequence. Start directly beneath the flared hanging crack and somehow attain it.
2a) Scoup de Grace (sds) ** V6
The sit start to the previous problem from the large pebble down and right doesn’t add any particularly hard moves, just makes it a bit more awkward to get nicely established on the start holds for the stand version.
3) Avalokitesvara V7 (sds).
Sit start at the jugs on the arete before launching (or attempting to at least) up the scooped wall left of the arete on tiny holds to reach the lip of the most overhung section of wall. Essentially a more direct version of The Riceman that avoids the big jug for the hands (but still seems to stand on the edge of this?)
4) The Riceman Commeth (sds) ** V4
Sit start at the arete and make a big move for the huge jug on it’s right side. From here launch out left to good side pulls before continuing left along the slopey ramp to more big moves out to the lip. Continue left along the hanging ramp to a daunting rock over finish.
5) The Tip Off (sds) *** V2
The awesome arete from a sit start.
6) Little Women (sds) *** V6
Sit start at the arete and make a big move for the huge jug on it’s right side. Using this and a flake out right, aim up for the pocket above before making big moves right to a pocket / flake combo. Finish up the wall and crack above. Can also be climbed without the flake just after the start holds at about V7.
7) Skywalker * V6
An eliminate tackling the wall head on and avoiding use of the big jug/flake low down and crack high up. Start on the small positive flake and a pebble out right. Make powerful moves to the large sharp pocket on Little Women (the large flake and jug on the left are off route) and then follow that line back right to gain the crimps on Obe Wan. From here move back up and left (avoiding any use of the finishing crack on LW and OW) to a high committing finish.
8) Obe Wan *** V6
Attain the flake / crimp combo on Little Women in a more direct fashion from small crimps and flakes in the centre of the wall. Finish up the wall / crack above.
9) Obe Wan Extension (sds) ** V7
Start at the big pocket low down on the right side of the wall. Make thin, and slightly painful moves left (hence only two-stars) to reach the start holds on Obe Wan, which is then followed to the top.
10) Klingon (sds) * V9
Start as for the previous problem but continue directly up the wall on small pockets.
11) Darth Vader (sds) * V8
An alternative to Klingon starting from small pockets and crimps to the right of the big hole and involving a technical sequence through the lower wall before joining Klingon near the top.
12) Bellybutton (sds) * V5
Start beneath the right arete of the face with an undercut pocket for the left and pockets / side pulls (depending on what you can reach) for the right. Slap your way up the arete using an assortment of pebbles and flakes.
Located about half way down the path to Pockets Wall are a couple of blocs with nice clean faces that are worth seeking out.
1) XXX (sds) V1
Climb the right arete of the bloc, from a sit start.
2) Fimbulvetr (sds) V5
Sit start at a pocket and good crimp in the middle of the face. Climb directly above these, avoiding the arête.
3) Ragnarok (sds) V6
Suit start as for the previous line, but this time break out left to gain the lip atop the left arête of the face.
4) XXX (sds) V1
Climb the left arete of the bloc from a sit start.
1) XXX (sds) V1
Climb the left arête of the bloc from a sit start
2) XXX (sds) V1
Sit start at a good jug in the slanting crack. Follow the crack left to the arête, which is then followed to the top.
3) Homeric (sds) V3
Sit start at a good jug in the slanting crack as for the previous line, but this time climb the wall above without any use of the left arête.
4) Mythology (sds) V4
Start at the same jug as the previous lines, but this time move up and right across the face.
5) Hector (sds) V4
Start at a jug in the right crack and climb the face above without any use of the right arête.
6)Troy (sds) V6
Sit start as for the previous line, but this time break left across the face to finish at the top of Homeric.
7) XXX (sds) V1
The right arête of the face from a sit start.
Hidden amongst the bushes about 150 m down the hill to the east of Rocky’s Boulders is a large bloc with a pocketed face and a collection of reasonable quality V1 to V5 problems and potential for some utterly desperate sit starts.
1) Pacman * V3
The right arete of the boulder yields to determined pocket pulling.
2) Manic Miner ** V2
Roughly follow the line of the thin crack splitting the middle of the undercut wall, using good pockets and holds around it to ease the difficulty.
3) Jet Pac * V1
At the left end of the horizontal breaks is a large flake line of questionable stability. Follow this.
4) Spectrum ** V2
The arête at the left end of the wall via some widely spaced jugs.
Potential for some very hard sit starts to some of the above lines exists, n particular starting beneath Jet Pac and working into the start of Manic Miner
5) The Barrel (sds) * V4
Just beneath the main boulder is a low roof with numerous sharp pockets in it. Crawl to the back of this and follow the line of pockets out through the steepest part.
The next three problems all start on Pacman and finish as for Jet Pac. It is also possible to continue all of them past Jet Pac to finish up Spectrum, adding about one grade to each problem.
6) The Rail * V3
Climb the first few moves of Pacman before breaking out left along the highest of the three horizontal breakss.
7) Breakdance ** V3
Start as for the previous problem but follow the middle break line. More satisfying to continue across the whole wall and finish as for Spectrum (making the problem V4).
8) Chi Wai’s Traverse ** V5
From the starting holds of Pacman, follow a line of pockets and poor crimps along the lowest of the three breaks. Finish either up Jet Pac or, even better, continue left to finish up Spectrum (V6).
Lone Tree Boulder
This bloc is located just over 50 m down the slope to the southeast of Rock’s Boulder. In the past it was easily identifiable due to the lone tree poking out the top of it. However, Mother Nature and an aggressive government reforestation programme mean its not that lonely anymore (and a lot more boulder maintenance is required…)
1) Branching Out * V3
From two small pockets, reach up and right to a sloping ledge. Finish directly above via the large pocket.
2) Lone Tree ** VB
The left arete of the slabby face.
3) Lone Wolf * VB
Follow the slabby groove. The centre of the slab can be climbed avoiding both the arete and the groove at about V0.
4) Squeeze Job * V4
Follow a line of small pockets and crimps above the roof, avoiding both aretes.
5)Arborist Arête (sds) ** V4
A tricky sit start leads to delightful climbing up the steep arete.
The Lower Boulders
1) VB *
Start right of the overhang and follow the faint crack in the slab above.
2) Wall and Flake ** VB
Start up the pocketed wall and finish up the slab and crack above.
3) VB *
The largest of the crack lines, finishing up the righthand most flake.
4) Gully Slab ** V0
The slabby arete on the righthand side of the gully.
5) Crack Slab * VB
The thin crack above the large pocket.
6) Feeling Flakey ** VB
The leftward trending flake.
7) The Groove V2
Climb the hideous thin groove on the small boulder in front of the large wall.
1) The Bulge V2
From a standing start off the V-shaped pocket and crimps, reach up and mantle the lip.
(1a) V3 (sds)
From a sitting start off a sharp side pull and small crimps reach up into the starting holds of the Bulge and finish as for that problem.
2) Cave Roof Layback V1
Start on a sharp pocket on the lip of the overhang and a good side pull. Pull up and mantle onto the slab above.
(2a) V6 (sds)
The sitting start to the previous problem gives a fierce and not particularly pleasant problem
1) Twin Tree Groove * VB
The groove at the left hand end of the wall. Finishing right through the overhang adds some interest.
2) Scooped Wall *** VB
The centre of the wall, going straight through the overhang on huge pockets.
3) VB *
The vague groove line at the righthand end of the wall.
4) Slab Arete ** VB
The slabby arete at the righthand end of the wall.
The next three problems are located on the steep wall right of the arete.
5) The Money Shot *** V0
Climb the steep side of the arete on an assortment of pockets.
6) V0 *
Take a line up the centre of the wall on good but spaced pockets.
Climb the flake and groove at the right end of the wall.
1) No Women No Climb (sds) * V1
Climb the left arête and diagonal crack to the highest point of the boulder.
2) Destiny V0
Start matched in the diagonal crack and rock over on to the slab above. Finish up this.
3) Twelve Monkeys (sds) *** V4
Sit start matched on the good flake. Move up to the small side pull before throwing out left to gain a small hold near the arête before cranking through to the good jug on the lip.
4) Van Halen (sds) ** V5
Start on the good flake as for Twelve Monkeys and finish on the good hold on the lip, just miss out all the holds in between!
5) Destinies Child (sds) * V?
Follow Twelve Monkeys to the small hold on the arête but, instead of going up for the main jug, continue out left for the diagonal break and finish up Destiny instead.