is a massive crag that is about 200 metres long. The crag has a myriad of climbing routes to choose from, although they tend to be fairly sustained climbs and lean towards the more difficult grades. More than half of the routes that you can find there are graded at 7b
and higher, but there are a couple of routes for beginner climbers that are around 6a
To get to the crag, you need to make your way to the small village of Zhoushang (Mandarin : 洲上). The best way to get there is to head in the direction of the much larger town of Puyi (Mandarin : 普益乡) first, but turn right about 9 kilometres in. Soon after you turn off the main road, you'll come up to a t-junction where you need to turn left as the right branch leads to Yansi (Mandarin : 岩寺). Then head down the road for 600m or so to reach Zhoushang.
That morning, the taxi (CNY8
per person) drove us to Zhoushang and the driver told us to walk in from there. We continued to follow the occasionally muddy path that led south past bridges and large swathes of farmland. Vegetable plots and gardens were abundant here and swifts flitted around above our heads. Eventually the massive crag appeared to us on our right. We slowly looped around the crag and approached its south face from behind. From there a path led straight to the wall. The crag, like most of the crags around Yangshuo, is fairly remote and does not have shops or eateries anywhere nearby, so we had purchased some sticky rice (CNY11
) for lunch beforehand.The massive (not quite white) wall
The further to the left we went, the more overhanging the rock became. This did two things: it kept the rock fairly dry, but at the same time significantly increased the difficulty of the routes. The routes became easier the further to the right we went, but those routes tended to be gunky and fairly slippery with a lot of them passing through darkened slimy streaks in the rock. My medial epicondylitis had yet to subside so I made it a point to stay on the easier routes and to give my elbow long rests in between. That gave me lots of time to explore and observe the local denizens..Ian doing his best to avoid the darkened streaks
There were all sorts of insects around, from those that buzzed around our heads to those that slowly crawled under our feet. The ones that immediately caught my attention were the one with long, long legs. There was one stick insect (Order : Phasmatodea
) in particular that seemed very curious and wandered over to our bags and crawled over our climbing rope, whilst a harvestman (Leiobunum sp.
) scuttled around in the underbrush.Like spiders, harvestmen are arachnids. Arachnids are distinguished from other insects by several features, namely their four pairs of legs instead of three, and the fact that their head and thorax are fused into something called a cephalothorax, leaving them with two body segments instead of three. Harvestmen are not spiders though. Their body segments have taken it one step further and seem to have fused into just one segment. This is not the case of course, the connection between their abdomen and cephalothorax is just a lot wider, which makes it seem as if they just have one body segment. Harvestmen also do not have silk glands and as such are unable to build webs. Some harvestmen have been known to sway their bodies in order to confuse their predators, a tactic that is similar to that of some spiders
!A curious stick insect (Order : Phasmatodea); the joint between the body segments of this harvestman (Leiobunum sp.) is not obvious....whereas it is quite apparent on this orchard spider (Leucauge sp.)
There were also several leaf-footed bugs (Family : Coreidae
)--which are actual bugs
--that were climbing over the plants around us. Most people tend to confuse them with stink bugs (Family: Pentatomidae
) as their morphology is quite similar. One quick way to tell them apart is by the number of segments of their antennae: leaf-footed bugs have four segments, whilst stink bugs have five. In fact, the name that has been given to the family that comprises stink bugs, Pentatomidae, literally means 'five sections' in Greek!Leaf-footed bug (Family : Coreidae); yellow marmorated stink bug nymph (Erthesina fullo)
Weevils also seemed to be relatively commonplace here. They are easily identified by their distinctive long snouts which they use to bore holes into plants before they lay their eggs. After hatching, the larvae then goes on to eat the plant from the inside out. As such, a lot of weevils are considered serious pests by the agricultural industry; even I have had my own fair share of gripes when dealing with the rice weevil (Sitophilus oryzae
). One strange weevil that I came across was a female giraffe weevil (Trachelophorus sp.
). The giraffe weevil is sexually dimorphic, and the neck of the male is most often multiple times the length of that of the female--hence the name.Hypomeces weevil (Hypomeces sp.); female giraffe weevil (Trachelophorus sp.)
We made our way back to the Yangshuo-Puyi road and turned left at the road that lay just up the road
. The road first passed the crag of 'Tuo Bei Shan' on its right before making its way west for just over half a kilometre, passing farms whilst being flanked by karst towers to the south. The crag known as 'the Egg'
lay at the end of the path, but to access it we had to first circumnavigate it anti-clockwise and climb up to the belay ledges via its northern face.The Egg has a decent choice of climbing on three sides of the tower, so climbers are able to move around it depending on where the shade is. We encountered a group climbing at the northern face, so we instead continued to edge our way along the slopes and towards the north-east face instead. There were several caves that we had to walk through to get there, and after sizing up the areas for belaying (some were on ledges), we squeezed in the final few climbs of our trip.Climbing at the egg; the caves that we had to walk throughThe karst landscape reflected off the water. The towering 6-pitch (4, 4, 4+, 6a+, 6b, 4+) crag of 'Tuo Bei Shan' can be seen on the rightRows of banana trees (Musa sp.)
We made our way back to the main road once again as the sun began to set, and managed to flag down a taxi (CNY8
per person) that was willing to bring us all the way back to Yangshuo.** Dinner that night cost CNY17
and the early bus the next morning from Yangshuo to the Guilin airport cost CNY50