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It took many years, but climbing is finally entering the mainstream here. Specialty stores like RC Outfitters in MongKok have sprung up, offering the latest paraphernalia to go along with the wonderful addiction. Climbing equipment in general is comparatively much cheaper here because there’s no sales tax, and with Hong Kong’s currency pegged to the US dollar, there’s less fear of rate fluctuations. This allows shops to mark down prices and compete very aggressively. With increasing exposure, coupled with the willingness of enthusiasts to explore and open new areas, it is hoped that Hong Kong will rival Krabi one day in terms of versatility, and number of noteworthy routes.
Locally, there are a handful of rock climbing clubs that actively promote the sport under the auspices of the Sport Climbing Union of Hong Kong. Of particular note, is “Climb 4 Fun” (affectionately known as C4F), by far the largest, most active and prominent group, promotes rock climbing with a strong social / networking twist. Formed as a not-for-profit venture, C4F uses its considerable numbers and financial resources to actively fund local expeditions and to develop new sites. C4F is a warm and very friendly group, so if you are in town, and you need to meet climbers, they are a great resource.
Artificial sport climbing walls in Hong Kong are largely government built and maintained. There are currently five artificial walls (both in and outdoors) from 7 meters at East Kai Tak, to the tallest one at Shek Kip Mei Sports Complex, standing at 15 meters with 8 lanes. Outdoor walls are free of charge, but you must present local Lead Climb certification plus bring your own equipment. Air-conditioned indoor climbing facilities also require local certificates, are still cheap at HK$45-85 per hour, with all equipment provided and the entire venue for your use. For visiting foreign climbers, these walls are not accessible sans local certification, however your best bet would be to get in touch with local climbing clubs, and just tag along with aforementioned climbing clubs like C4F. The tallest wall in the territory is an 18 meter high private wall at King’s Park, owned and operated by YMCA. A simple assessment of climbing ability and proficiency with the Gri-Gri, plus a HK$100 fee will allow you to climb all day at this mega wall. Call ahead to make an appointment to do the assessment.
Outdoors, Hong Kong offers nearly 300 climbing routes and over 600 boulder problems, and this is just in a few select areas. With established crags getting increasingly crowded, there exists now the best possible incentive to explore the huge potential for development into the New Territories (Hong Kong’s suburbs). It has been said that Hong Kong is probably the second best climbing destination in Asia, the foremost being Thailand’s awesome Krabi.
When you arrive in the Kowloon Peninsula by rail, car or MTR (the local Mass Transit Rail system), you will most likely observe a large imposing rock in the horizon of Kowloon Tong. This is the “Lion Rock”, aptly named because from certain angles, the profile of the crag resembles that of a lion. This granite Lion stands at 495 meters high with the crag at about 75 meters, offering difficulties up to F7b+ (5.12c), and a spectacular view of Kowloon in the backdrop. There are two approaches to the Lion, one from the east and the other west, with the majority of routes being two to three pitches long, with reliable bolt protection in place. There are also some challenging lines for traditional climbers on this crag, these being more and more rare as local climbers inevitably favor the convenience, efficiency and safety of bolted routes. The Lion Rock crag requires a fair amount of local knowledge to tackle it safely, it is recommended that foreign climbers be accompanied by experienced locals.
About an hour’s walk away in the same area, is another large rock face called the “The Sphinx”, a versatile crag offering vast possibilities for traditional and sport climbing. In the same area lies countless boulders of just about every size and shape. Rough cut and abrasive, there are now over 20 challenging problems established over the past 6 months with grades up to V5. With lots of overhangs and roofs still unconquered, this area is primed for massive and rapid development. We gleefully anticipate that this will become one of the most popular (as well as convenient) bouldering sites in the near future. A select few within “C4F”, who call themselves the “Project X Team”, are now working to develop this site; paving inroads, bolting crags and grading boulders. For details and progress on their projects, visit Project X
Hong Kong’s dense landscape offers one truly unique attribute; all our climbing sites are easily and quickly accessible. Ample and efficient public transportation, cheap taxi fares means one can do a sport climb at dawn, a big wall at noon, followed by bouldering till dusk. Sites can be wildly varying too, from bouldering rocks in the middle of nowhere to pitches just off the beach, or one right in Central, Hong Kong’s busy commercial district.
Being a first-world cosmopolitan city, Hong Kong has something that Yang Shou (Guilin, China) and Krabi can’t compete with the ability to offer every creature comfort and amenity available to discerning travelers. Mega malls, endless cuisines, a throbbing night scene, and no GST / sales tax makes this one of the best places in the world for shopping!
A common lament heard from just about every climber here, is the low profile of Hong Kong in the international rock climbing scene. It is our hope that with further development of virgin areas in our endless suburbs, “Petzl Roc’trip” will one day consider stopping by, to allow grand masters Chris Sharma, Dave Graham and other luminaries to climb and share their wealth.
Photo by Wong Ho Fai