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The trek up to Lion Rock.
by Sue Pok
Lion Rock, Hong Kong
On the second day of 2007, we were still nursing a massive hangover from late night partying at Soho, Lan Kwai Fong and Wan Chai. We decided to head vertical for some peace and quiet up a famous rock in central Hong Kong.

Lion Rock is a glorious 250ft high granite formation set in a country park facing the bustling Kowloon Peninsula. The rock is so named after its semblance to a lion. Besides being one of HK’s best outdoor climbing spot, it is also a popular hiking trail for city dwellers. To get there, take a MTR (from Kowloon side) to Lok Fu Station then hop on a cab ride (around 5 mins drive and costs around HKD15) to “Tse Sze Shan” (“Lion Mountain”).

There are two faces to Lion Rock, East and West – each gets the sun at different time of the day. I read that there are around 25 routes in total, mostly multi-pitches. For specific route guide, do refer to Most of the routes are bolted and I have been told that they are well-maintained by the locals.

We decided to head to the East face of Lion Rock to climb the easier but voted one of the best routes in Hong Kong - ‘Austrian Staircase’. The trek up to the granite crags took around 30-40 minutes. From the base, there are semi-proper steps (very much like trekking in Kota Kinabalu) that brings you to the peak. To get to crags, you have to keep right after passing a mini shelter around 1.5km up and veer onto a dirt jungle trail. Our grueling hike is spirited by several happy elderly (and very fit) hikers who always have a ready smile and greeting us “Zhou Shan” (“Good Morning”) as we pass them.

I have been warned that the HongKies are much harder climbers and tend to down-‘grade’ their routes. Although named as a 5+/6a route, Austrian Staircase felt more like a 6a/6b climb. The first pitch starts with a steep flake requiring plenty of arm strength for laybacks as well as jamming your fingers looking for holds. The top ends with a narrow chimney, after which we have to traverse right to the anchor.

Hanging off my daisy waiting for the next climber to ascend, I had my lunch of luncheon meat bun - HK style! A quick shower passed and the air gets colder (around 15deg). Used to climbing in the usual hot sweltering weather back home, I was shivering in my thin pullover. Do make sure that you bring something snug if you do come climbing in HK this time of the year. I have been told that this is their ‘hottest’ January this year– it is usually around 10deg every other year.

The second pitch gets a lot more interesting and requires more technical climbing. With only tiny cracks for footholds, lots of smearing and balancing act required. Maybe it is the new year magic in the air, but plenty of handholds appeared whenever we needed one. An extremely nice climb, with the chilly afternoon air cooling off your aching muscles and breathtaking view of HK skyline behind you.

Getting five climbers 70m high up and back down again took the entire day. By the time we packed up and trek down the mountain, it was already dark. The lights of the city came on illuminating a beautiful glowing cityscape. And off we go heading for our next destination: Dim sum!

Till the next new rock….Happy New Year folks.

Dave leads the route.
KC, making his way up on second.
This is where I had lunch!
A picture of the group
A view of the Hong Kong night skyline.
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