Catching up from a five week trip is a long process and in the middle of summer makes it even harder. For some reason summer is always really busy. Anyway, back to the bouldering in China.
The first sessions in China were all local to the city with a small trip to Laoshan the big mountain of boulders. It took a bit of time to gain the trust of the guys who boulder in Qingdao. After all I was the first guy to travel there specifically for the bouldering on a long term trip. I was unsure of what to expect and the locals felt the same. Once we trusted each other and realized we share a common addiction it was all systems go. We started to go out to better and better bouldering and started finding new areas of world class granite. It was in the middle to end of the trip that I really got to see the true nature of the place. It was a relief to realize that the bouldering in Qingdao, China is as good as any famous granite in the world and in most cases completely unique.
I climbed on granite features that were different from anything I've seen before. There were granite tuffas, pockets, dog bowls, and huecos that were so numerous pinches between them made many good problems. Some of the granite was close to home in texture. Much like Vedauwoo it was chunky and rough to pull on. My first trip to Laoshan was filled with doubt because of the rough stuff, but later trips would reveal fine grain rock with perfect textures. I also witnessed granite that was so fine grain it felt like 400 grit sandpaper making amazing slopers and strange sand stone like features. Think the turtle shell slopers of font! Most rock however was small grained grey, brown, or even white granite that climbed like granite with the occasional Qingdao feature to help it have the unique feeling of a new rock type.
On the way into Erlongshan (Two Dragon Mountain) in Laoshan. This was the first day I went into Laoshan and found primarily chunky granite. There were hints of the good stuff that would keep me wondering about rock quality for days until we finally went out to it.
From day to day I was never sure of what might happen in terms of a bouldering trip. It might be a trip to the local stuff in the city of Qingdao. Maybe a two hour bouldering session. Or it could be an entire day of bouldering out of the city and in Laoshan. Each time I left my little apartment I prepared for an entire day out. It was a freeing experience to not make the plans and just wait for the phone call or text each morning. With an open mind I noticed new problems where I'm sure I would have missed them with a know itinerary or set of problems. It definitely changed my way of bouldering back home. My first session back in the states yeilded one of the classic problems at Needle Peak.
Even with a closed mind a person could find something to climb here. A beautiful and typical view of the climbing in Laoshan. With an open mind here the climbing is truly endless.
As I mentioned before, the rock of Laoshan goes from the higher peaks straight into the ocean. The rock is similar, but the weathering is different. The bouldering along the Yellow Sea is a lifetime experience to say the least. It was something I could do every day and never grow tired of it. It was refreshing to boulder sea side and very calming.
The area of Laoshan is generally regarded as the place where Taoism was born. Taoist theory suggests that wind strips a persons chi, or inner energy. Water renews that same energy in a cycle. Every day bouldering in Laoshan was a lesson of that. From breezy peaks we would follow the water down to the sea and feel calm again.
The boulderer Bamboo wandering the edge of the Yellow Sea for new rock. We found some incredible boulder problems here!
Boulders in Laoshan along the sea.
A sea of boulders we visited on my last day in China. One of the most incredible bouldering vistas I've seen anywhere.
Now closer looks at the rock and boulders. On my first trip to Laoshan the bouldering was similar to home and a bit chunky for my taste. It did however yeild prefect splitter cracks and wide crack roof problems were everywhere. I demonstrated wide crack technique to the climbers I was with as they had never seen or heard of it. We wasted a good afternoon stacking and inverting in a perfect splitter roof crack. The locals picked up the techniques really fast and loved the new style. It was a great honor to bring wide crack climbing to the group I bouldered with. To pass the art of wide crack climbing on from Vedauwoo and Bob Scarpelli to Qingdao and climbers in China was also a life experience. Laoshan had more wide crack possibility, both routes and boulders than anywhere I've seen by far!
Some of the first stacks in China! This was a perfect hand/fist stack roof.
I could never pronounce this womans name and won't try to spell it here, but she was a natural at wide crack climbing and if she sticks with it could be the very best! After a quick lesson on stacks, kick-throughs, how to say Bob Scarpelli, and offwidth climbing in general she absolutely walked this crack. This is probably China's first wide crack roof. Comparable to any hard problem in the states and it's just the beginning for China!
So, the bouldering was amazing as I keep saying and the entire experience was far reaching in experiences. It was a very full trip of giving and taking lessons on bouldering and life. I could write about it forever, but I think pictures might explain a bit better than my rambling on. Enjoy!
One of the many good boulders found in the river valley bottoms.
Tony, master of the open hand, working a project along the sea in Laoshan.
Again on the side of the sea, Tony putting up an FA with Bamboo spotting.
Micheal from the states boulders out a beautifully featured granite bloc along the sea.