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Laojun Shan National Park: Traditional rock climbing

Activity at the newly developed sandstone trad climbing area close to the town of Liming has increased: There are now close to 200 routes, both single and multi-pitch, from 5.6 to 5.13. However, the area still holds vast potential; over seven valleys remain untouched, and walls reach 240m in height. In June the area’s foremost activist, American Mike Dobie, completed the first route in the park to top out on a high wall and involve a walk-off descent. The eight-pitch Back to the Primitive, climbed with Sarah Rasmussen, will go at 5.11+. Some of the belays have bolt anchors. Pitches five and seven have yet to be climbed free, though the second pitch was freed by Dobie at 5.11c/d. There are three possible starts, the nicest probably the one-pitch Lollipop (5.9, FA Andrew Hedesh, FFA Rasmussen). The climb finishes up an airy are?te, and the walk-off should not take more than one and a half hours.

In October the area was the venue for what has been billed as China’s first trad climbing festival, an event jointly sponsored by the North Face and Black Diamond. Around 200 people from many different countries took part. Chinese activists, most of whom are sport climbers, are taking to naturally protected routes with great enthusiasm. Visit www.junshanclimber.com for current information on the area.

Dobie and friends have also been active in exploring the potential for rock climbing and bouldering in southwest Sichuan, and an 82-page guidebook is now available to the Dao Cheng area (Ruba Chaka Village, Haizishan Preserve), called Southwest Sichuan: A Partial Guide to Bouldering and Climbing. While most of the guide documents the extensive high-altitude bouldering in the region, also included is Tuarshan, an alpine rock venue north of Haizishan Preserve and east of the Dao Cheng–Litang highway. Early in 2012, Dobie made a solo visit to this area, where summits rise to 5,000m, and climbed a few spiky rock peaks, one of which had a 5.6 crack on the summit tower. He notes great potential for multi-pitch routes on various granite faces.

From information provided by Mike Dobie, China