Recently it has come to my attention that there is a climbing area known as “mini Yangshuo” about 1.5 hours outside of Guangzhou in the town of YingXi outside of Qingyuan city. So last week after work on Friday, several friends and us all packed into a van and headed North to check out the crags. When we drove to the town, it was raining quite terribly but by the time we got up early next morning the sky was blue, the scenery was amazing and we were ready to get our climb on.
The first day, after a hearty breakfast where we ate delicious home made “chang fen” and noodles, our driver took us to Big Temple Crag.
Temple crag is the most popular crag due to its accessibility, but we were the only ones there that day. After a few warm ups we decided to tackle a 5 pitch climb. I have only done a 2 pitch multi-pitch climb before so this was certainly a challenge for me. Especially when the sun came out of the clouds and we were all being roasted alive. The climbs were were nice and holey, very reminiscent of Yangshuo.
As we were lowering, we realized a big thunderstorm was approaching so when our friends made it to the ground we tried to pull the rope back down as quickly as possible as it was starting to rain….after some moments of frantic pulling as the rain was getting heavier we realize the rope was stuck because no one untied the knot on the rope. At this point the sky is pouring and we had no choice but to go back to the car and retrieve the rope the next day.
We proceeded to eat a delicious meal at a restaurant where they grow their own food and try the famous Qingyuan chicken which I thought was too boney. When I paid I was reminded how cheap everything in China is. A meal for 7 with 8 dishes came to 350 Yuan or $60.
The next day, after retrieving our stuck rope we went to Guanyin crag. To reach to the routes we wanted we had to crawl through this cave and do some bushwhacking. The bolts and such are in very good condition but it looked like this crag is not as popular due to the trail being completely overgrown.
The whole day was on off heavy rain, by sheer luck the area we picked had slight overhanging rock, so even though it was pouring rain 3 meters away, we were quite dry.
Later in the afternoon we decided we didn’t want to crawl through the cave route again and instead walked through some fields. It was quite pretty. And with that, the driver picked us up and we went back home.
Overall, Qingyuan is a really awesome place to climb. The potential for new routes is huge. The rocks, climbing and scenery is very similar to Yangshuo. Currently there is around 150 routes with most of them bolted. And only a 4 hour drive from Shenzhen border, it is quite convenient as a weekend trip. We only spent around 700 Yuan each for 2 nights, 2 days trip, when the weather gets more stable I think we will definitely go back!
Since there is practically no info on Qingyuan online here are some practical tips:
1) Guidebook: really awesome guidebook. It is not exhaustive but it does introduce the readers to all the big crags in China. Keep up the good work guide book writers!
2) Transportation : Since most people do not have a China driver license, renting a car isn’t an option. You will have to hire a driver either at Shenzhen, Guangzhou or Qingyuan.
Finding a driver is also a hassle, how do you know who to trust? For us we were recommended a driver from a friend of a friend. This driver turned out to be great because he knew where all the crags were, drove safely, didn’t smoke, drink or spit, was very polite, and helpful. Anyways he picked us up from Lok Ma Chau/ Futian station and drove us all the way to YingXi. The cost was him was 2500 Yuan, this was a 7 person van and included all gas and toll fees. Food and accommodation for him was extra.
3) Accommodation: Our driver booked a nice hotel for us for only 150 Yuan a night. He actually wanted to book the hotel that was part of the farmers restaurant (Shunde), but it was full. The accommodation was very clean and they let us do a late checkout so we could shower before heading back to HK.
4)Things to do outside of climbing: Enjoy the scenery, there is zero nightlife.
5) Language. Chinese only. Our driver only spoke Cantonese and Mandarin, as did everyone else in this part of China. Bring a Chinese friend.