Left: Impending Doom, Radar Rocks If you’re stuck with only a limited amount of time my recommendation is to head to the smooth walls and bulges of Lin Fa Shan, where classics such as the Stretcher (V4), Dislocator (V7) and So High (V9) await. With flat landings, short grassland surrounding the boulders and views out over Lantau Island this is by far the most user friendly of the areas. It’s also close by to the excellent Colin’s Boulders, which includes a good selection of harder classics such as the awesome roofs of Sparkies Amazing Technicolour Dreamroof (V5) and Taipan (V7), the crimpy highball of Mega Tsunami (V9) and the insanely thin wall of Hong Kong’s hardest problem Seamless (V10). Although not as extensive as Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong’s other bouldering areas are also well worth checking out. The best of these include the coastal granite of Chung Hom Kok (think Dover Island) and the rounded granite boulders above the fishing village of Sok Kwu Wan on Lamma Island, which a recent posse of French hotshots rated as their favourite spot. Both of these areas provide approximately 50 problems apiece and will keep most people happy for a day or two. 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).
Rock Climbing in Hong Kong by Brian Heard, available in most good climbing shops around the globe, is the most comprehensive guide to climbing in the SAR currently available for purchase, and provides a reasonable oversight of the outdoor crags. However, the guide suffers greatly from the authors’ obvious opposition to the use of bolt protection, neglecting to include nearly all the sport climbs, and is now quite out-of-date. For better, more up-to-date and free details of the main climbing areas we advise you to check out the ‘Guide’ section of www.hongkongclimbing.com, which, also includes general details of shops and climbing walls and has an active discussion forum that’s a convenient place to hook up with other like-minded enthusiasts. For those of you that would rather leave your ropes and quickdraws at home, the Hong Kong Bouldering guidebook by Stuart Millis (published 2004) is an essential piece of kit, and you’d be foolish to leave home without it. See below for purchasing details.
When to Visit
Climbing is possible in Hong Kong year round, but is far from pleasant between May and August when temperatures frequently exceed 30oC and humidity is sky high. It also rains a lot in those months. Undoubtedly the best time of year for climbers is between October and January. These months yield little rain, cool temperatures and low humidity. February to April can also be good but you may risk the odd downpour here and there.
Where to Stay
You name it, this place has it. HK is geared towards all kind of tourists from 5 start swanky luxury to squalid cheap stinking hell holes. A quick search of the internet should turn up a good selection within whatever budget you’re operating in. If possible, try and stay to more centralised locations such as Central, Wanchai, Causeway Bay or Tsim Sha Tsui as you’ll find it easier to get to the crags from most of these places.
Getting Around90 percent of people in HK don’t own cars so the place is perfectly geared up to the traveller on foot. An excellent underground system (the MTR) will get you close to most places and a short ride in a taxi (which is relatively cheap) is all that required from there.
Climbing ShopsThere are various outdoor shops in Hong Kong which carry a good stock of climbing equipment. These are:
- Chamonix Alpine Equipment 1/F, On Yip Building, 395 Shanghai St., Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon.
- Hong Kong Mountaineering Training Centre, G/F, 1K Fa Yuen Street, Mongkok,Kowloon.
- RC Outfitters, 5/F&6/F, Oriental House, 24-26 Argyle Street, Mongkok, Kowloon.
- Overlander, 12/F Hollywood Plaza, Soy Street, Mongkok, Kowloon.
Most climbing equipment in HK is reasonably priced with the exception of climbing shoes, which are cheaper here than anywhere else in the world I’ve ever been (Anasazi’s for 45 quid and Mad Rocks for about 25!) especially when you use the next little gem of information: when shopping at Chamonix or HKMTC is to say you’ve got a VIP, look for it in your wallet for a bit and then say you must have left it at home, they’ll still give you the 20% discount this way.
Climbing WallsThe recent explosion in the popularity of the sport has led to numerous indoor and outdoor climbing walls cropping up. The only one worth checking out for the visiting climber are:
- Go Nature - 13/F, Tak Lung Industrial Building, 179 Wai Yip Street, Kwun Tong, Kowloon (http://www.gonaturehk.com/) - An excellent bouldering wall which is the focal point of the local climbing scene. A good place to find climbing partners.
- YMCA Kings Park, Gascoigne Road, Jordan, Kowloon - An 18m high outdoor leading wall with approx. 25 routes up it. Requires a simple assessment to be taken prior to use. Ropes and quick draws can be hired from the wall for a small additional cost.
- The remaining walls actually worth using are government run and so tied up in bureaucracy that even most of the local climbers can’t be bothered to use them.