Yangshuo Day 01 & 02 – Treasure Cave
Yangshuo (Mandarin: 阳朔) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is well-known for the thousands of karst peaks that seem to have suddenly erupted from the flat plains that surround them. Unique karst landscapes like this are produced when soluble rocks (200 million-year-old limestone in this case) are dissolved by the carbonic acid that is present in rainfall. Normally, just caverns and fissures are produced, but when the surrounding bedrock is also removed, tall limestone towers remain. According to the geologist Ray Beiersdorfer, four conditions are required:
The Yangshuo region is also fairly clean and relatively pollution free, which makes it a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of China's major cities. The nearest airport is located in Guilin, but the bus transportation service departs from the airport directly and makes it very easy to cover the 75-kilometre journey to Yangshuo. The buses depart every few hours from 09:30 to 22:30, and all that one needs to do after collecting one's check-in luggage is to head to the bus ticket counter near the bus stop at the side of the airport, purchase the ticket for CNY50, and to wait for the bus to depart.After an hour and a half, the bus should stop at the Yangshuo North bus station. Before it does however, a wonderful yet almost ghostly visage should unfold before you that is framed by the windows of the bus. Mounds and mounds of hills and towers abound, so much so that they sometimes seem to be stacked on top of each other. The limestone towers can be seen as far as the eye can see, their sides still lush with vegetation, and their tops hidden within the low-lying clouds. Paddy fields are ubiquitous in the plains below, and buildings would occasionally be nestled at the base of the towers.
First, you need hard, compact carbonate rock. In Guilin, it's Devonian limestone. Secondly, you need strong uplift, in this case provided by the collision of India with Asia to form the Himalaya. Third, you need a Monsoon climate of high moisture during the warmest season. Finally, the area must not have been scoured by glaciers, which this region wasn't.
The little hostel that is known as Climbers Inn (Mandarin: 攀岩客栈), is fairly well-known amongst the climbing community, and the owner, Lilly, makes everything so much easier. She speaks fluent English and is a veritable treasure trove of local climbing information--from where to go climb when it is raining, to how to best get there. Read the online reviews if you still need some convincing.
It was raining the next morning, so we were forced to wait out the weather for a little while. As a result, we left around 11:00 which was fairly late, but in doing so managed to procure some tips from Lilly and purchase a second-hand Yangshuo rock climbing guide book (CNY80/2), proceeds of which were to go to the local bolting fund. Lilly also knew of a place nearby that rented out bicycles for CNY10 a day, so she called ahead and made sure that they had some available for us.We cycled out of the hustle and bustle of Yangshuo, the route of which can be found in the movescount data below. Cycling helmets were not provided, so we had to resort to using our rock climbing helmets instead. We kept our bicycles on the dedicated red cycling lanes at the edge of the road, and cycled south past Sinopec petrol stations and the ubiquitous blocky white square buildings that had huge stamps on their walls.Just after crossing the bridge that straddled the Yulong River, we passed the public park that housed the 'Big Banyan Tree'. This huge banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) was reputed to have been planted in the Sui Dynasty (581 - 618 CE), and if this were true, would mean that it was more than 1400 years old. Having been exposed to trees of all shapes and sizes over the years, with some in the Malaysian rainforests towering hundreds of metres above us, we felt that the CNY20 entrance fee (or any entrance fee for that matter) was not quite justified. We instead continued on and turned right at the junction just after the public park. The Treasure Cave limestone formation was quite apparent from the main road, and the sight of the opening to the cave itself spurred us onwards.
Suunto Movescount Stats
We walked back towards the Treasure Cave and made our approach to the crag at the bottom of the slope below the cave itself. Most of the routes around the stairwell were graded from 6a+ to 6b, although there were some very easy ones, as low as 5, at the base of the staiwell. The problem was all of the routes were completely soaked. We climbed up the stairs and entered the gate, eager to at least attempt a few of the easier routes, but were ultimately forced to bail because they were all simply too slick. Apparently the moisture can sometimes blow into the cave when the rain is very heavy. Some of the ceiling routes looked like they would have been an absolute joy to climb, but all we could do at the time was to head back down to our bicycles.
I love the lotus because while growing from mud, it is unstained