Why travelling 20km takes an hour (or more)

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…

village road excitements

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…

village road excitement3

village road excitement

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.

village road escitements 4

Variable four:

Livestock always has the right of way…

village road


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Riding the willy stick

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…

Riding the willy stick

Riding the willy stick

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

Riding the willy stick

Riding the willy stick

Riding the willy stick

Riding the willy stick

Riding the willy stick


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Directions to Xi Shan

Would be easiest to check the Kunming climbing guidebook released by Red Point Gym (Click on their logo to the left when on our main page for a link to their site) for directions.


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Directions to Da Mo Yu/The Wind tunnel

We say Da Mo Yu, as this is the nearest village, but the climbing (Wind Tunnel and related bouldering) is actually a little way from the village itself. To get there, take the same bus as for Xiao Mo Yu (bus C61), but you don’t get off at the drop off point for Xiao Mo Yu, stay on the bus for maybe another 1 or 2 km. After the Xiao Mo Yu drop off, the road bends left and then right, and goes down a long hill. Climb off at the bottom of the hill, as the road levels off. As usual, the bus driver will be confused as to why a foreigner would be climbing out here, just stand up, shout, take off your clothes, whatever is needed to get him to stop. Then, once you have put your clothes back on, cross the road and head back up the hill for a short distance, to the first road on the right hand side, this is a dusty dirt road accessing a nearby quarry (i.e.: many trucks). Follow this road for about 1km (less?), going under the new superhighway and head up a short dirty hill. At this point you should see the crag up and left, above a small forested area. The topos section should provide a clear picture of the crag and bouldering areas. As you near the top of the dirty hill, you’ll see a small road on your left, turn in here. There are a couple of paths heading up through the forest to the crag/bouldering, maybe a little overgrown, but it’s a short walk, so shouldn’t be a problem accessing the climbing.

Sadly one of our pads was stolen from the bouldering wall, so now we make a good job of hiding the remaining pad in the bushes near the bouldering. If you find it, please make sure to put it back.


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Directions to Swallow cave


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Directions to Fu Min 富民 canyon

Fumin Canyon is a little further away from Kunming than the XiaoMoyu area, however with close to one hundred climbs ranging from 5c to 8a, and a number of undocumented new multi pitch routes, as well as a few decent camping spots it is definitely worth visiting.

The first part of the journey is to the northwest bus station 西北部车站 which can  be reached either on the number one bus or by taxi. Here you must buy a ticket (from the left hand booths) to FuMin 富民 . You will find the bus at the far left hand side of the platform, and it will leave when it is full. The buses also act as a delivery service to the villages, so don’t be surprised if you pull in and somebody fills the aisle with sacks of corn. The journey is not unpleasant (except for the tunnel) and will drop you off at the bus station in FuMin. Turn right out of the bus station and carry on until you cross the river, the next turning on your left will take you to the climbing. The road here continues for about 4km before arriving at a bridge, and the climbing areas. You can take either a cheap seat on one of the knackered looking donkey carts, or a slightly quicker ride in one of the 面包车 minibuses for about 5 kuai.


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