Keketuohai National Park, new routes and access
China, Xinjiang, Altai
In September, Garrett Bradley, Andrew Hedesh, Aleksandra (Ola) Przybysz, Torsten Treufeld, Li Yuanliang, and I traveled to Keketuohai (local name Koktokay), where we established 30 new routes, most between two and five pitches, but some as long as eight. Difficulties ranged from 5.5 to 5.12. The most noteworthy were probably Fishy Flip-flops on Waterfall Rock (six pitches then 4th class scrambling, about 5.11a), and the Bundy Route (255m, eight pitches, 5.11+ A2), both of which topped out on some of the bigger walls in the valley. We also climbed Sky Rim, with six pitches up an arete (5.10) followed by 200–250m of low 5th class scrambling, and the five-pitch Jirou Ban Mian (5.12d A3) on Divine Bell. Protection was largely trad, though a few protection and belay bolts were placed.
Access to this area may have been resolved. On arriving in the town of Keketuohai, check in and register with your passport at the main hotel run by the Keketuohai National Park Investment Company. Its name is Keketuohai Jiedai Zhongxin. After this, travel five kilometers to the main park gate and sign a waiver at the main building of the administration center. We were told the park company is eventually going to offer seven-day passes for climbers. On entering the park, you may be asked to show the authorities where you want to climb. The ability to camp, or live in yurts, within the park is uncertain, but might become more relaxed as time progresses. Proof of climbing competence (e.g., AAC membership card) is also required, and any of the above requirements may change. We also gave the administration a code of ethics for new routes, which we ask future climbers to follow. Be sensitive to bolting; it is not encouraged and should be done minimally and professionally. [ Editor’s note: The first recorded route in Keketuohai appears to be the two-pitch Unlucky Times, put up during October 2007 by Andy Merriman, who visited the area with his wife and a group of friends living in China. There are now close to 50 routes. Ola Przybysz is writing a guidebook, which will be available online at http://beijingboulders.com/about-2/.]
Mike Dobie, China