High-line above Getu sinkhole

In July 2016 a big mission to set up a high-line across the Getu sinkhole started…

Sponsored by Dali bar and Kailas, filmed by Stephan Wellauer, Colin Flahive and Kris Ariel.

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The Lonely Sherpa

(First published on the Dali bar blog 2016)

The Lonely Sherpa

The idea of putting up a climb on this wall started about 8 months ago, on my first visit to the Shigu valley. It is a big, beautiful wall, shadowing all those who pass through the valley below. I made many subsequent trips to Shigu, staying at our friend’s guesthouse – The Stonedrum House, and bolting a number of single pitch climbs, but always this wall tempted me. Finally, with a 2-week break over Christmas, I decided the time was right. And with some support from Dali Bar and Stonedrum House developing this wall became possible.

One of the hardest parts of the process was to choose the right line up the face. I was tempted by a bold line through the middle of the wall, which would go through a big tufa-filled roof right at the top, but feared that the climb might be really difficult and therefore limit the number of people who could enjoy the route. We had been hoping for an easy/moderate line as the first route up this wall. So we looked to the left where there are some interesting red corners and decided that this is where the line should go. The route would start up a long section of face and then feed into the higher of the red corners, under a small roof and up a break in the wall to the top. No problem, 4 maybe 5 pitches. Not quite. Pretty soon the wall earned it’s name, The Deception Wall, as it turned out to be a lot bigger (and harder) than expected, about 160m and 8 pitches in total.

The next day I hiked up to the top of the cliff with a couple of visiting Aussie climbers, Laelia and Bec, and scouted out the access points. I had tried to convince the Aussies how fun it would be to help me carry the gear up the mountain the next day. They politely didn’t respond to the hint. Hence the name of the climb, I hiked up a total of 6 times to the mountaintop, carrying loads of gear each time. The bolting went smoothly, I got the first 5 pitches in pretty quickly, cleaning big blocks off where necessary, rapping down and scoping out where the most interesting features were, or where the natural line of the climb went. After one of these sessions Laelie expressed some interest in helping out. She’s an experienced climber, but predominantly a boulderer with no experience in developing sport climbs, but I figured it would be nice to share the process with someone who was so psyched to join. I’d fixed some static lines for her to jug up and sent her off to bolt the first 2 pitches from the ground, which she did in great style, cleaning and bolting as she went. Perhaps a few bolts could have been closer together, and a few extra flakes hammered off, especially as her pitches turned out to be the crux pitches.

With all the bolts in Laelia and I set off to try the climb and found that the first couple pitches still needed some work. So I decided to rappel in from the top (another walk up the mountain) and check the entire route. I moved a bolt near the top that I was unhappy with, managed to clean a few more lose holds, and then spent some time to figure out what to do with pitch 2. At the time pitch 2 was about 45m long and felt to be about 7c, which was inconsistent with the grading of the rest of the climb. I decided to add an anchor and split the pitch into 2 separate pitches, which turned out to be a great idea in the end.

Finally, after all the work, it was time to send the route. We made an early start, walking through fields of icicles in the early winter’s morning. The first two pitches went easily, nice moves and no problems. I set off to open the third pitch, and too my surprise found that the wall had sprung a leak overnight. Weird, but out of no where the wall was leaking water right down through the first crux of pitch 3, at the most run-out crimpy part of the climb! I nervously set off, cursed my way through the wet part and managed to open the pitch. Now the pressure was off as this was the crux pitch for the route. After lots of amazing climbing and munching on Dali Bars all the way up, we topped out around 4 pm to some much deserved whisky and a cheesecake that I had stashed under a rock. Luckily it was so cold the cheesecake was still fresh!

The pitches are graded as follow: P1 7a, P2 6b+, P3 7a+, P4 6b, P5 6c, P6 6b+, P7 6c, P8 6a+. The longest pitch is 33m (P3), so be careful if you choose to rappel down. You’ll need about 17 quickdraws, take a few long ones. Don’t try link P7 and P8, the rope drag is terrible.

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Drone pic of Shady Grove

Cat on Yin and Yang Shady grove

Cat on Yin and Yang

Drone pic of Swallow cave

Rachel on the Beast

Rachel at the Gash

Ladies at Xi Shan

Karlyn on the Beast

Karlyn on Prison dick

Ben at XM cave

The weeping wall Fumin

Old red rock (top) Fumin

Peter on Beast of the Deep

Babysitting at Swallow cave

Swallow cave

Baby Nacho chilling out

Cave climbing at Swallow cave

Mark night climbing in Fumin

Night climbing at Fumin

Peter at the Wind Tunnel

Corlie on the Return of the Limpit

Ryan at TNT wall

Ryan at TNT wall

Yang Bin in Shigu

Clara on The Cleaner

Xiao Mo Yu cave

Corlie Peter and little Jonah at Sw cave

Honey and Pregnancy walls

A Fei on The Beast


Peter bolting Sw cave

Peter bolting Sw cave

Peter bolting Sw cave

Ahmed at Swallow cave

Swallow cave from the road

Marta on the Cleaner


Tom bolting with the willy stick

Colin at XM cave

Climbers at Fumin

Aling and Dan

Carrying kids to the Gash

Kids and dogs having fun at Sw cave

Alberto at Fumin

Peter at Fumin

Tom on Funny looking white guy

Dan roping up

Jian jian at the Weeping wall

Climbers in Fumin

Karen at Fumin

Hannah at Fumin






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Topos – Oct 2018

Please note that the topo to The Gash does not include the 46 new routes bolted by the Kailas team. The names and grades of these routes are written on the rock at the base of each climb.

Kunming crags latest_Oct 18

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“Now Climbing” gym



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New multi-pitch: Funny looking white guy

Published 2015

Having recently received a pile of new shiny bolts from Kailas, the Kunmingrock team has been quite busy with developing new climbs around Kunming. In the past couple of weeks 3 new routes have gone up at Swallow Cave (between the grades of 5+ and 6b), and then over the long weekend of Qing Ming Jie we bolted a two-pitch climb in Fumin canyon, on Doug’s Wall.

As with many bolting missions, it involved a lot of walking, sweating and cursing. Tom was out in the area the day before scouting out what line to bolt and at the same time he stashed the static line and bolts for me in a bag, under a bush, on the side of the mountain. He also said it was near some red earth…..with some grass. Clear enough. I set off early Saturday morning to make sure I could finish bolting in time for us to still try send it that weekend.

Well, it took about 3 hours to find this bush that the bolts and rope were stashed under, then it took another 2 hours to carry about 35kg of gear to the top of the wall and locate the top of the climb we wanted to bolt. I finally got set up, kitted out with all the gear in place on my harness and backpack, established a rappel and lowered myself down the wall. Once over the edge I soon realized I was on the wrong part of the cliff! Had to pull back up the rope, move down the cliff line, reset the rappel anchors and gear up once again. By now I was tired, thirsty and grumpy. But, off I went, over the edge, in the right place this time. I placed located the correct place for the anchors, placed the bolts and then got ready for the rest of the bolting to come.

As I looked around and down the wall I got really excited, the line was going to be a good one! Two long pitches, gradually getting steeper and finishing at the top of the wall on some lovely tufas and overhanging rock. I set off bolting with a smile on my face. I bolting went smoothly; very little cleaning was required (only a few blocks to pull off). I managed to get most of the climb done before my drill batteries died and I had to quit for the day.

The next morning we asked a local farmer if he would charge our drill batteries, and he happily obliged and we chatted with him about his fruit trees while waiting. Tom then set off and bolted the remainder of the route, cleaning off some flakes and blocks and doing a nice job and spacing out the bolts. He was done before lunch, which meant we had an afternoon to open the climb. I had a friend visiting from Shanghai who joined us as a team of 3 to open the climb; given the nice stance at the top of the first pitch we figured it shouldn’t be a problem. With a bit of effort and some grunting, and a touch of sunburn, we got the two pitches open with plenty of daylight to spare.

Pitch 1: 38m, 6C+

Pitch 2: 28m, 7A+

We called the route “Funny Looking White Guy”, because my friend Mark is exactly that!

Note – you should be able to rappel off with a 70m rope in 2 rappels, if you have a 60m rope or are unsure if your 70m will get you down, you can do the lowering off in 3 rappels by lowering to the set of anchors about 10m down and left of the first stance. Given the steep nature of pitch 2, you will need to use some quick-draws to keep you close to the rock and prevent you swinging out into open space when lowering to the first stance (the second person can then clean, while the first person holds the end of the rope to pull him into the stance). Knot the ends of your rope!!




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Sending Genevieve

Published 2014

Now that “Genevieve” was finally bolted, I needed a rest day after all the bolting and hiking to the mountain top, so I lazed about the next day, went for a short run, cruised about on the bike and generally tried to relax my tired hands. It turns out one rest day wasn’t enough. Tom and I set off nice and early the next day to climb. I attacked pitch 1 with some nerves, as I was excited to open this wall. But by a third of the way through the first pitch my hands were already cramping, then my pec started. I pushed on but had to rest before the end of the pitch. So I came down and Tom went up and opened this pitch in good style, it is a long, 35m, slightly overhanging line, which goes at about 6c+. This meant pitch 2 was now mine to try, I managed to open this pitch, only about 6b+. Tom joined at the second stance and we were now getting excited, despite the hand cramps. Tom’s turn, pitch 3, the long parallel tufas. These gave us a good run for our money. Tom managed to get the draws in, but this pitch was far from open. I gave it an attempt, made some progress, that is, right up to the crux….I tried and tried, but was just losing skin on my finger tips and not progressing. I really wanted to at least figure out how to do this section, so that when we returned to try again, we would know what to do. After much cursing, I figured out a good sequence, using some less than ideal crimps, but they worked, so did my fingers, and I got through. We descended and went home, worn out.

Another rest day was needed. This meant we only had 1 day to send the climb before our holiday ended. Nothing like a bit of pressure to get things done. We returned before sunrise the next day, everything obscured by a thick mist. I set off on pitch 1, managed to send it, Tom joined me at the stance. He set off on pitch 2, fell at the anchors when I hold broke. I shot up it and we found ourselves back at pitch 3. Tom was hurting, his skin was worn out, not in a good space to be sending the crux pitch, so I geared up for it. I knew I only had enough skin on my fingers for 1 good attempt, but I took some strong painkillers before climbing, hoping that this might dull the pain in my finger tips and allow for a second go, should I make any mistakes.

Fortunately it didn’t come down to this, I climbed it well, made it through the crux, not without a fight though, and nervously cruised the finishing sequence, worrying about a hold breaking and ruining my attempt. I happily clipped the anchors and belayed Tom up to join me. We gave this pitch a grade of 7b, time will tell what it settles at. I offered to climb the next pitch, Tom didn’t argue. This pitch proved to be an amazing piece of climbing, pulling through a small roof, standing on tufas with open air below, great stuff, at about 6c. The final pitch now waited. Tom’s turn, I was expecting nothing more than 6c, hoping for less because we were both pretty damn tired by this point. Tom went up about 3 bolts and it became very clear that my predicted grade was a bit off. He tried various sequences but wasn’t progressing. He came down to the stance and we were both a little quiet. Worried that after all the excitement and work, we wouldn’t get to finish this climb.

I tried to put on a brave face and positive attitude, I think Tom saw though it. We had some whisky with us, so we each had a shot or two and I geared up. Tom said something about it being a time for someone with more experience, someone who really wants the climb, can grit through the hard sections, dig deep. It was a general statement, not necessarily referring to me or him in particular. His words rang true. I fought my way up that pitch like I have never fought for a climb before. Maybe the whisky helped. It was relentless and not obvious, it just kept throwing cruxes at me when I wanted rests. But in the end, after about 30 minutes of sweating and whimpering I clipped the final anchors. Such an amazing feeling. I graded it 7a+, but have no idea what it might really be. Tom dragged himself up, topped out and slugged back the whisky like it was water. Our final bit of excitement was to launch an “AP BOOM!” off the top of the mountain, basically a little stick of dynamite. Our friends climbing in an adjacent valley had no doubt what the explosion signified as they were climbing a multi-pitch of their own.

At about this time Corlie texted to ask if I liked the name Genevieve if we had a girl, I mentioned this to Tom and we simultaneously decided this would be a great name for the climb.

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Bolting Genevieve

Published 2014

It all started with the big plans for Tom and I to bolt a huge sinkhole out in the hills beyond the Getu Arch. We were well equipped, I had shipped my motorbike ahead of us, to be collected in a nearby town and driven through, giving us easy access to the sinkhole and allowing for the carting of gear back and forth through the hills. We had about 200m of static line, more than 100 bolts, drills, bits, all sorts of gear to help with the bolting and weeks of pent up energy! Once arriving in Getu it soon became clear that the sinkhole was to be put off for a while longer, road closures, massive rains, flooded rivers and generally bad conditions for missioning into large pits convinced us to look elsewhere.

I spotted a large orange face in a nearby valley, with easy access and dry rock, I couldn’t believe nobody had developed this wall yet. I set off slightly possessed (Tom hadn’t arrived in Getu yet), hacking paths, carting gear (along with a few trusty “Sherpa friends” – Vanessa and Douw) to the top of the mountain, bolting rap anchors, stashing food and water, getting everything set up and ready for bolting. It was not without some trepidation that I slowly lowered onto the face, with the trees blowing in the wind far below me, to set the anchors for the climb. I pulled off a few microwave size blocks and watched them free-fall for an eternity before exploding into the valley below. This was a little exciting, and a little nerve wracking. Once I’d set the anchors I got into the swing of things, it is quite a free feeling being all alone on a big wall, swinging about, cleaning of loose rock, placing bolts, choosing the line to climb.

Envisioning the path that the climb will ultimately follow is probably the hardest part of opening a route like this, that is if we ignore all the sweaty hours of carting gear back and forth. I had spied out the line using a pair of binoculars and made mental notes of stances, features to aim for and features to avoid. In the end this proved a good method and the line moved almost straight up the wall. The first session of bolting was slow, mistakes were made which meant I had to jug up and fetch things, come back down, rap further down to check the line, jug up again, place a bolt. This cost me a lot of time and resulted in me being rather tired before I had even finished the first pitch (that is, the first pitch of bolting, which would be the last pitch of climbing).

But in the end the pitch was finished, I made a stance, had a snack, stashed some gear, set the static lines and prepared for the next pitch. This went smoothly until I ran out of bolts. I’d left a bag of bolts at the top! More jugging, more sweat, more cursing. Now my batteries were flat. The drill batteries, not my personal life batteries, though these were nearing empty as well. I decided to rap off the wall in one long rappel. This way I could see the line as I descended. I have since read that it is not recommended to do rappels of more than 30m at a time using the gear I had, off I set on a rap of more than 3 times that. It got a bit scary as the devices heated up and my sweat started to steam as it dripped onto the devices. I slowed down, spat on the devices, and blew on them constantly. At least the slow descent let me get a good look at the wall as I went past. Eventually I made it down, tired and a little demotivated as so much of the wall remained to be bolted. I happily cruised through the farm lands on my motorbike and got back to the guesthouse. A quick coffee got me perked up and I decided to charge my drill batteries and shoot out to complete 1 more pitch before dark. A bold plan as I was very tired, but it paid off, I completed the first pitch from the ground, fed many a mosquito and headed off home as the sun was setting.

Up at sunrise the next day, hiked back up to the top of the mountain to rap in, as this was likely easier than jugging up 100m of rope. This time round I was quite efficient, and set to it with fresh energy. I completed a couple more pitches, including a pitch with a stunning roof section that made me really excited to try the climb, and another pitch following 3 long parallel tufas, which proved to be the crux of the climb. I came down at lunch, with only one pitch left, the second pitch off the ground. Tom had now arrived and was keen to contribute, so I happily let him go up and bolt this pitch, which he did in good style, with only the odd “Tom placement” here and there…Now it was done, bolting and cleaning complete, all that was left was to climb it!

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Why travelling 20km takes an hour (or more)

Published 2014

We often wonder at the variety of ways in which our journeys to the local crags go from a straight forward drive to a bit of a mission. I guess if you factor all of the variables into the equation it is not at all surprising that the 15 – 20km journeys often takes about an hour (or sometimes more).

Variable one:

Development is much more important than free flowing traffic. Therefore the road going through the village is not really a road it is a public space to be used for construction work…

Variable two:

Saving money on construction costs is very important. So, in order to save money the nails securing the solar panelled lamp posts into the ground is only 15cm long…

Variable three:

It is very important to stay entertained whilst driving. So to make sure that people don’t get bored of the tedious task of driving with a car full of passengers, the rear view mirrors are fitted with DVD screens so that the driver can watch movies while he drives.

Variable four:

Livestock always has the right of way…



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Riding the willy stick

Published 2014

About a year ago I was referred by a close friend to a certain page on climbingtrash.com detailing the uses and abuses of a willy stick, and a ridiculous idea was born, to copy what we had seen on the page and try it out for ourselves. Jim and Peter brought some decent size bamboo back from a secret location, and me and Peter started kitting it out with slings, and a rubber foot to prevent the dreaded windscreen wiper.
After the initial excitement, and taking the willy stick all over Kunming and the surrounding villages to try it out, it got neglected and abandoned and the rubber foot got stolen. Then one day it was unexpectedly brought out of the damp corner it had rolled into…

The Willy Stick is a simple method of bolting on lead, without having to climb the route while you bolt, or use hooks, however in my experience a combination of techniques was necessary. In the examples given on the website, the rock was at a slightly different angle to what we ended up experimenting on and so I ended up sat on top of the stick, wedged into the roof, shuffling out and slithering about in a general tangle of ropes and bolting gear and sweat, much to peter’s amusement and corlie’s apparent concern.

I couldn’t complain, I had forgotten half my stuff, and still wanted to bolt, and even offered to use the stick. When the going gets tough, bust out the willy stick.

I managed to place two bolts in this way, in about an hour, or more. It felt eternal – time crystallizing into a moment of infinity each time the stick creaked or the rock it was sitting on crumbled. All I know is that the willy stick will be back, soon, and hopefully I will be on belay next time.

– Tom Wright








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