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The jetty of Tung Lung Chao.
by Sue Pok
Tung Lung Chao - August 2007
I was told that if given a choice to climb anywhere in Hong Kong, any local climber would choose Tung Lung Island without a doubt. Given that I had such a good time at Lion Rock beginning of the year, I am curious about this supposed 'better place' to climb.

And so off I went last weekend - 3hr 45 mins flight from Singapore to Hong Kong by plane, 10-mins ride in a taxi from the airport to Central, 30-mins ride on the MTR to Sai Wan Ho, a 10-mins walk to the ferry terminal and (finally!) a 30-mins ferry ride later, I step foot onto the jetty of Tung Lung Chao.

However, we are still not quite there yet. We have to hike another 30-mins to the other side of the island where the crags are. The walk, though uphill, is very pleasant because we get a nice bird-eye view of the island. On our way, we passed by a camping ground (Tung Lung Fort) and a very quaint tucked-away coffee shop where climbers hang out. The elderly shopkeepers called out to us to have a cold drink and pee first before going any further (definitely a Chinese thing!).

We decided to head for one of the four crags called 'Technical Wall' which is good for basic one-pitch climbs. Technical Wall is located along the coastline which means we are climbing right next to the water and we get to hear the sound of huge giant crashing waves and seagulls throughout the day. It was a very idyllic ambience and feels a little like a beach getaway - except for all that climbing of course!

When we arrived at Technical Wall, there were already a group of climbers setting up routes. Char Bao (Cantonese for "Tea Bag") and his friends introduced themselves to us. They were from a local adventure club preparing to conduct a trial climb session for a group of university students arriving later. They are extremely friendly and turns out to be a hilarious bunch. Pretty soon, Char Bao's group and us were sharing ropes and exchanging belay services and horror climb stories.

Before climbing, Martin, Bern and I conducted a mini "opening ceremony" for our spanking new orange ropes! We set up our first route on "Cave Rib" and just as Martin is clipping into the anchor, it started drizzling. In the next ten minutes, it came pouring down. Everyone ran for shelter by the crag. Drenched and waiting sullenly for the storm to pass, what upset us most is the fact that our new virgin rope is now left soaking in the rain.....Ouch!

When the rain slows to a drizzle, the rest started preparing for their climbs again. I was extremely skeptical. When Char Bao and Martin started urging me to climb the wet crags, I thought they were trying to get me killed. I imagined climbing DairyFarm or Batu Caves in the rain and that thought made my stomach curled. After extensive persuasion that it is perfectly do-able (and threats of being thrown in the sea), I finally decided to give it a go.

And I found that: Climbing in the rain IS indeed possible! The holes were very positive and you have to take extra care on foot placing because smearing is not possible. Also, you will need to wipe off regularly so leave your chalk behind but bring up a piece of dry rag instead.

It rained periodically throughout the mid-morning and early noon. We did about half a dozen easier climbs in the rain and quickly have our lunch (my standard HK-style luncheon meat noodles!) when we get a spate of dry period. Although it was dark and gloomy, the mood amongst the climbers certainly was not. The sun came back full force in the afternoon and we manage to try the harder climbs on drier surface.

Char Bao tells me that I cannot come to Technical Wall and go home without trying this route called "The Small Roof" (6B). Located at the right side of Technical Wall, this route takes you through a series of laybacks and ends with a serious overhang. The trick to this route is to climb the first three-quarter super fast because you need all your reserves at the end. To overcome the overhang, you need to do a side-pull from the roof. It was a really fun climb although I was plenty embarrassed because a few dozens students have just arrived when I reach the roof and is sitting below watching me. Nothing like an audience to make a route that much harder!

This trip is indeed an eye-opener. I really enjoyed the experience, rain and all. The best thing about climbing in Hong Kong is when you are finally OFF the crag, you can look forward to really good dim sum afterwards.

I think I am done with Hong Kong for now. Perhaps Mainland China next? I recall Martin mentioning something about Yangshuo being China's climb mecca.........

The uphill hike to the crags, both pleasant and with views.
Technical Wall, located right by the water.
Char Bao and his friends from a local adventure club.
The "new rope' opening ceremony with Martin and Bern.
Drenched and hiding from the rain under an outcrop.
True Grit! Martin kept on belaying in the storm.
Photo Album
For more photos from this trip at the photo album, Click this link here.