MaShan, China Rock Climbing (馬山)

We went to MaShan, Guanxi, China for 4 days over Christmas holidays. The trip was far too short, but it was also our first climbing trip with the twins. As there isn’t much information on the area, I will write a more detailed guide than usual. We only went to 3 crags, 2 of which (GanNiangShan & JinGangShan) were a short walking distance away. Lion’s Cave (ShiZiDong) required a car ride but was well worth the trip. For accommodation, as we had our twins and helper with us, we stayed in a fancy little accommodation called the “Canadian Cottage” as it was modeled after a Canadian House complete with giant living room, pool table, swimming pool, etc. As luck would have it, there were no other guests so we had the entire 9 bedroom cottage to ourselves. This was great as we could rearrange the furniture to make it baby safe and the twins exhausted themselves everyday crawling around the house.

An Introduction:

Ma Shan is a newly developed climbing area in China. Located in the same province as Yangshuo, MaShan climbing is the same karst limestone formations. Currently there are 500 routes in MaShan.

The difference between Yangshuo and MaShan is that MaShan area was developed specifically for climbing by the local government. As such, it is a tiny climbing village where climbing is a fully sanctioned activity and there is zero red tape. In contract, Yangshuo is now a major tourist destinations, where there is McDonalds, Starbucks, Western foods, and crowds that go along with this and climbing is seen as a side activity.

The Climbing:

Ma Shan topo can be found on thecrag.com . There are many crags but the two main crags are about 5-10 mins walk from the climbing village. There is also a huge cave which is about 10km away + a 20min approach. Routes tend to be 20m+ with quite a few multipitches so a 70m rope is recommended. As the area was only developed in 2017, a lot of the routes are still unpolished. There is less severely overhung crags than Yangshuo so the majority of the close crags do get wet during heavy rain. The 2 main crags have flat wooden platforms built for easy days. Almost all the crag access has staircases built.

As for how the climbing is? It is great. I will let the photos speak for themselves.

Lions Cave 獅子洞
Lions Cave 獅子洞
Gan Niang Crag 干娘山 – The cave section.
JinGang Crag 金剛山

The Village:

The Climbing Village SanJia, GuLing 三甲攀岩小镇 , 古零 located in the County of Mashan 馬山. The village is tiny, flat and surrounded by karst mountains, you can walk around it in 20 mins and other than a few small farms, caters to climbers exclusively. In true China fashion of creating a model village and to reinvent itself, the local government has spent a lot of money repainting all the houses, set up bike paths, climbing platforms, safe bolting practices, bilingual signs, garbage & recycling facilities all along the village.

The village and JinGang Crag
The Village from JinGang Crag

Accommodation & Food:

For such a tiny town, there is a lot of accommodation of varying prices ranging from 100 yuan a night and up. During non-chinese holidays, it is easy to find accommodation. The best (only) way to pre-reserve a room is via WeChat.

One of the cheaper accommodations in the climbing village.

For food, there is one breakfast joint that serves noodles along the main road that leads into town. For dinner, there is 2-3 options within walking distance. The breakfast joint serves good BBQ Fish , skewers, other dishes for the most reasonable prices. The other guesthouse serves more veggie dishes with less oil but is more pricey. You must pre-order your food in the morning to get a decent meal. Please refer to my “Travel in China” page on the main menu to learn how to order common food.

Transportation:

The starting point will be from Nanning. It is approximately 1.5h by private car to the climbing village from the high speed rail station (Nanning East) and 2h from the airport and it costs around 350-400 rmb each way sitting max 4 with luggage. You can also travel by bus from Nanning Anji Passenger Transport Terminal 安吉客运站 to Guling 古零. To my knowledge, the bus tickets are 45rmb, and depart every hour between 7:30am-5:50pm taking 2 hours. You can tell the bus drive you are going climbing in 三甲攀岩小镇 and they will drop you off accordingly.

The more established climbing crags are a short walk from the accommodations. The further afield crags, such as Lion’s Cave will require a car ride. Currently Lions’ Cave return is 120rmb fee by private driver seating 6. There is no scooter rental business currently.

Children Friendly:

Ma Shan main crags is very children friendly, provided you have a 3rd person watching them. The wooden platforms provide a safe environment away, particularly the one at GanNiangShan. However, be weary of falling rocks as there was quite a lot since the crags are still quite new.

Weather:

The best time to come would be Nov-March when it is dryer and colder. Springtime, much like Yangshuo is likely subjected to wet weather. Summer would be ok, but incredibly hot so you would need to chase the shade. There are rain proof climb, but likely they would seep after a long period of rain.

*All Karen Chan Photos Taken by @kcphotographyhk on Instagram

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