Family Trip

Well things rarely turn out just the way you plan them. I just got back from 8 days in Yanghsuo with the family and we did 'family stuff'. Only got to climb two days: a great day at the Egg and one more bolting a new line with Eben on Birdman. I did send the lower pitch on my new line on Birdman that I bolted last trip with Paul Collis. Still lots of good rock for multi-pitch climbs on the crag.

Let's see, we went bike riding and the weather was warm enough to have a swim in the Yu Long River. We did the Yangti to Xinping hike, floated the Yu Long on bamboo rafts, took a cooking class, spent a few mornings out at the Li River Retreat, played Shithead in Bar 98, even got in an evening of Majhong. That, along with hanging out in and out of town and eating at our favorite restaurants, all added up to a great trip that went by too fast.

On the climbing front, Spiderman Paul, along with Tyson and Ah Dong, put up a beautiful new line on a new crag near the Mountain Retreat an the bank of the Yu Long River. They are very excited about it but couldn't send the 2nd pitch - they're still trying (might be a 5.13), good luck. Eben and I started bolting the diagonal crack to the left of the chimey crack on Birdman. It was slow going and will need at least one more day to complete. We chose this line first because we can put in anchors from the top of the second pitch that can be used to bolt the second pitch on my line in case climbing it on trad proves too difficult for me.

Chris Sharma was slated to arrive in Yanghsuo today for a 20-day stay during which he plans to bolt some signature lines. Ah Ban and Ah Chen have a few things picked out for him at White Mountain. This should attract more international climbers to the area. There is a good crew of climbers in town now and the numbers usually start going up around this time of year till the summer heat chases people to cooler climes. Fun to be involved with such a growing climbing area.


Spring Break

Spring Break for my daughter and it's off to Yangshuo for 8 days out of the city doing fun outdoor stuff. We plan to hike or bike most days and I should see at least 4 days on the rock. I've got a small tick list of 11s and if that goes well I'll hop on some 12s and try to climb bolt-to-bolt. Would also like to get back to the Great Wall to finish bolting two projects - photo is me hauling the pig up to the base of the Great Wall. Also have a project to finish on Birdman, and would like to finish cleaning my last route on the Totem Pole. So much to do and so little time!

Bruce Norman was in town this week and we climbed at the gym Thursday night before checking out his K2 photos; he successfully summitted in 2007 and also did some amazing trekking and climbing in China. Talked about a possible trip into Eastern Tibet later this year. Could be very exciting checking out the area and climbing some 6000M peaks in the area. I'm still a mountaineer at heart.

Climbed with Stephen at the 80K stadium today and we both managed to get up a lot of new stuff, much of it right out limits. The gym here is tallso we get to climb routes up to 20+ meters. When we do things right, we leave with a deep burn from training forearm endurance. The bouldering area is also quite big, but most of the holds are quite small and much of the area is overhung.I don't like spending too much time there during one session because it usually takes my fingers 3 to 4 days to recover; my knuckles will hurt all day long for the next two days if we spend our entire 2 hours bouldering. Next report should be from Yangshuo. Happy Climbing!


Spring Trip

The weather has turned warm again in Shanghai and talking to people in Yangshuo it looks like they have it even better: Temps in the mid 20s, although the humidity is creeping up again. I've been climbing regularly indoors and I'm anxious to see how much form I've lost in 6 weeks. Photo is Joel pulling through big open holds on the lower section of '2 in the Pink' at White Mountain.

Jeff is closing out his inventory of 5.10 shoes and lots of people have scooped up great shoes for good prices. I got another pair today and I may even spring for some Evolv shoes if my climbing looks likes it's actually going to get better.

I'm planning on a Yangshuo trip from the 22nd to the 30th of March. I'm taking the family so I may not get as much time on the rock as usual, but I do have a few things I want to tick including a second pitch to the new line Paul and I put up last time on Birdman. Looks like a fine trad crack that should go right about at my limit! Should be awesome. Also need to tick more 5.11s this trip! I'll record everything on Myticklist.com.

Olivier and the China Mountaineering Development Institute boys are in town and will be there for at least a month. Last time they rebolted some of the rusty older lines at Moon Hill as well as a number of new moderate routes on the right side of Wine Bottle. I think they plan to do more of the same this year!

Also, word on the street is that Chris Sharma will be in town the first week of April and plans to bolt a new line, possibly on White Mountain. Could be Yangshuo's first 5.15! but whatever his contribution, more routes in the difficult grades will definitely attract more top international climbers. I'm also looking forward to getting back to the Great Wall - it's a primo springtime crag with lots of open lines just begging to be sent.


Winter Training

Winter is looking pretty ugly right about now in Yangshuo. Although I'm not missing the cold restaurants, wet shoes and socks or muddy gear of winter there, it is a good time to cross-train. The area is great for hiking and trail running in the hills and around the river. Few climbers seem interested in getting out in the back country; in fact, most complain of muscle cramps after hiking up Moon Hill.

I try to keep a reasonable level of climbing fitness in Shanghai but winter is the hardest time because none of the climbing gyms are heated! Last year I started doing Mountain Athlete hybrid workouts; they kick my a$$ pretty good but seem to work, especially at keeping me motivated enough to go at all. I stay away from the Climbing and Mountaineering workouts for three reasons: I don't have a properly equipped gym, my fingers and my elbows. The hybrid workouts are allowing me to address imbalances in my body and nagging injuries I've been working around for years. I figure I will need at least another 6 months before I work out kinks in my shoulders and lower back. I also like pushing through hard intervals and lifting heavy weights, looking into the void and breaking through some mental barriers - kind of like climbing.

After about one more year I plan to switch over to the climbing workouts and start stressing my joints, but I worry about my fingers and elbows. Seems I only injury them in the gym, and I always injure them when I do climbing specific, strength training. Hang boards, systems boards, campus boards and routes on plastic and I don't find any of it much fun. Gym strength doesn't ever seem to prepare me for the pulling strength I need in Yangshuo, especially the overhanging routes on Moon Hill.

Stephen and I seem to be the only active, over 50 climbers in Shanghai and we get a lot of encouragement and support from the younger climbers. The secret to our longevity in the gym is staying healthy and avoiding stress injuries. We also make it down to Yangshuo more than any other local climbers and that inspires them and keeps us excited.