Information for Climbers - Yunnan Rock Climbing
ClimbDali.com (and the Climb Dali staff) aims to be THE source of information on rock climbing in Yunnan and all of China. You can find comprehensive English-language beta on all of the rock climbing crags in China (outside of Yunnan) here and read/post about it on our forum.
As for the climbing in and around Dali, there are currently 68 climbing routes, spread across 4 crags. (If you include nearby Liming and Kunming, there are more than 300 routes, which is more than enough to justify a trip out here). In Dali alone, there are vertical gneiss walls, sedimentary rock, and overhanging limestone, with potential for trad and multi-pitch and hundreds of boulder problems. With your help, we can turn Dali into one of the premier climbing destinations in China. While Dali lacks the abundant karsts of Yangshuo, it boasts great weather all year-round, no access issues, awesome views, and an overall amazing atmosphere. It's a great place to spend rest days, and there are plenty of other activities besides rock climbing to keep you busy. Trekking, cycling, kayaking, swimming, and even paragliding! Come on over and start claiming first ascents!
In the future, there should be a map and topos available online. For now, please contact us for the most up-to-date information on routes.
Beta on local and Yunnan crags can be found below. Check out photos here. English/Chinese guidebook is available at the ClimbDali shop in Dali Old Town.
ShuangLang Cliffs (双廊岩壁): ShuangLang town is located on the eastern shore of Erhai Lake, about one hour's drive from Dali Old Town, and ten minutes from a soon-to-be-opened train station. Overlooking the village is a series of cascading cliffs, with ample opportunities for new route development. Two of the cliffs have been bolted, with 41 routes, from 5.7 to 5.12c in difficulty. There is a horse-path that leads up to the main cliff; the entrance is across from DaJian Pang Village, (大建旁村) just past ShuangLang town. The other crag is located about 15 minutes walk down the road, and the path begins at ChangYu Village (长育村). Neither of the paths are sign-posted, and it can be hard to find. We recommend that you speak to us first, or the folks at Sky And Sea Lodge (at the bottom of the photo below) who can point out the way for you.
YangBi Shimenguan Gorge (漾濞石门关): The ShiMenGuan Gorge represents the crown jewel of rock climbing in Dali. It features two parallel gneiss (with a feel that is similar to granite) cliff faces, each about 300m high and 500-1000m long, with a small stream running down through the middle.The rock is extremely solid, and the style of climbing can best be described as crimpy and vertical. There are currently 19 routes, ranging from 5.10a to 5.12d, and the number of routes is expected to increase exponentially over the next couple years due to further development. There is also tremendous potential for traditional and multi-pitch routes, as well for boulder problems. With your help, this gorge will one day become one of the premier destinations for rock climbing in all of China.
GuanYin Canyon (观音箐): Less than an hour by bus from New Dali (XiaGuan), this crag was first developed in 2006 by local climbing enthusiast MaYun. The crag is located on the road to BinChuan, within a Buddhist temple complex. Only one rock face has been bolted thus far, and there's potential for at least 30 routes here, perhap even a few multi-pitch routes, if the resident monks are gracious enough to let us keep putting up new lines. The rock is sweet sweet overhanging limestone, with big pockets and interesting moves. Currently, there are 9 routes, from from 5.8 to 5.11c. Check out this sweet video.
Midu (弥渡天生桥): Within the TianShengQiao Scenic Park, there is a great collection of limestone faces, with the potential to develop more than a hundred routes. The park gets its name ("Natural Bridge") from the giant rock bridge that is not unlike Yangshuo's Moon Hill. It's already possible to abseil here, but no routes have yet been bolted.
Mt. CangShan Grand Canyon (苍山大峡谷): Technically the birthplace of sport climbing in Dali is the Mt. CangShan "grand canyon." A climbing competition was held here in 2004, but big plans to develop Dali into a climbing center disintegrated without really getting off the ground. The site is easily accessible by cablecar, and in fact if you look closely, you can still see a couple of quickdraws hanging from the rock.
HaiDong (海东镇岩壁): This cliff, located near East Lake village,is accessible by boat from CaiCun Port, which is only five minutes from Dali Old Town. While we are holding off on developing this crag due to ongoing road construction, this crag could one day support 50 routes, including multi-pitch routes.
LiMing (黎明): About five hours north of Dali, and two hours from LiJiang lies the town of LiMing. The town sits on the outskirts of the LaoJun Shan National Park (老君山国家公园）, which is filled with sandstone rock faces. Recently, Highland Expeditions of Shuhe managed to secure permission to begin developing routes. For environmental reasons, all of the climbing is traditional, with bolted rapel anchors. There are already 130 routes, and thanks to massive development by Mike Dobie, the area is arguably already the best trad area in China and will soon be established as a premier destination in the international climbing community! You can view the topo here.
LiJiang GuanYin Gorge (丽江观音峡): Just off the main highway from Dali to Lijiang, there is a large limestone canyon. In 2002, a cafe owner from LiJiang bolted six routes near the south end of the canyon. Since then, however, the site has been turned into a tourist destination, and it's unclear whether climbing is still permitted. At the very least, you can expect to pay an entrance fee. You can find more information here.
The most comprehensive and up-to-date information on climbing in and around KunMing can be be found at The Mountain Project and KunMing Red Point Climbing Club; the information below is intended to serve as an overview only. Red Point recently published an updated guidebook on the climbing in Kunming, which you can find at ClimbDali as well as at other climbing clubs around China. There are also a handful of bouldering clubs in Kunming, though RedPoint is probably the most popular.
Stone Forest (石林): Located about 100KM east of Kunming (1.5 hours by train), this is a well-known tourist attraction and the birthplace of sport climbing in Yunnan. Two routes were bolted in 1999, but the site was quickly abandoned by climbers when more potential was discovered closer to KunMingg. With thousands of small rock formations, though, there is plenty of potential for bouldering. Just bring your own bouldering pad and shoes.
Western Hills (西山): Located about 15KM south of Kunming on the shores of Lake Dian (滇池), the western hills still have nearly unlimited potential for new routes, from short, sport routes to high-end, multi-pitch lines on big walls. All feature spectacular views of Kunming city. There are 2 main climbing areas developed in the Western Hills so far. The biggest is the Western Hills Escarpment itself, which lies about 200 m above Lake Dian. The second, much smaller area consists of two crags (so far) close to the lakeshore near Dragon Gate Village. Unfortunately, there are some access issues; since the Western Hills are also a major tourist attraction, the government frequently bans climbing. Contact Red Point to get information on the current situation.
FuMin Canyon (富民): Lying 30 km northwest of Kunming, the atmosphere of this rural canyon is quiet and peaceful. Over 90 routes have been established in Fumin Canyon, spread across ten individual crags, making it one of the highest concentrations of sport climbs in China. The climbing at Fumin is in the countryside away from any major population and tourist centers. Right now there are no management and access issues, but be considerate of the local farmers and goat herders that use the area.
TuanJie Cave (团结洞): This limestone cave was discovered in 2005, and 30 routes have already been established, from 5.10 to 5.13, most at the high end. This is where most of Kunming's top climbers spend their time these days, climbing and developing new routes.
AnNing Hot Springs Bouldering (安宁温泉): About 30KM outside of Kunming, is the industrial city of AnNing. Near the town's famous hot springs, lies a small boulder field, with a bunch of problems, the hardest of which is V7.
For information on China rock climbing crags outside of Yunnan province, check out our China Climbing Guide.