2010 Yangshuo, China Climbing Festival

Before the FESTIVAL, we climbed two days in a row at Lei Pi Shan, and since the event is just around the corner, spectators came out to the crag to watch Yuji and Emily and I climb. It was pretty cool, and we managed to impress them with some sending and some big victory whippers. There has been increasing energy in the area as people have been arriving for the event. Also, the weather has remained great for climbing, so the general psyche is high.

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Noodles for breakfast

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Noodles for breakfast…Spi-to the-cy!

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Yuji and Lei Pi Shan

On the day of the festival, 10/30/10, we rented scooters again, and went out to White Mountain early. Some American employees from Black Diamond have been in Asia working out of the new BD facility in Zhuhai, China, so they came to Yangshuo for the festival and to climb. We were a gang of 5 racing out to the crag, and it was fun weaving through traffic and speeding along together. There was a solid amount of laughing and shit talking and risk taking. It was a really cold morning, and my hands went numb from the wind, but it was refreshing. It made me think of the cold and the snow and the ski areas, which all await me back in Colorado.

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Yuji and his scooter

Check out this little video I made:

Scooters to climbing in Yangshuo, China from Sam Elias on Vimeo.

We arrived and hung out for a while as things got going. Then, Emily and I lead a group out to The Egg crag. There, she taught a ‘steep climbing’ clinic, and I gave a ‘beginners’ clinic. Though an element of work and preparation must go into these instructional sessions, they are truly rewarding to do. I seem to learn and have fun as much as the participants. The people always seem to have genuine enthusiasm and curiosity. I had some people that had never climbed before. It is inspiring to me to watch them try and to field their questions. Their minds are so open and unbiased; the beginners mind. They have no notions of expectations and performance. It feels good to be around this kind of energy. Their approach is not attached to a goal or outcome, because they know nothing of things to come, so they simply exist in a present state of effort. I think this is the most pure way to experience something. We walked back to White Mountain, where Yuji had remained and taught an ‘onsighting’ clinic, and Abond taught a ‘redpointing’ clinic. Abond is a young local climber, and one of the strongest Chinese sport climbers ever. He is kind and generous, and I coincidentally met him for the first time when we were in Kentucky just a few weeks ago where he was on a month long trip to the Red.

We rallied the scooters back to town to freshen up and do some final preparations for our slide show that evening. As is the norm, I of course couldn’t make it all the way back without incident, and narrowly avoided t-boning another scooter as the rider was perpendicularly creeping into the Saturday evening traffic indifferent to the inertia of hundreds of vehicles travelling at right angles to him, and apparently convinced of his imperviousness to them all.

Emily and Yuji and I presented the videos and photos from our trip to Turkey in April to a packed house. We killed it. First Em, and then I, and then Yuji. We were all really happy with the flow and energy of the show, and the crowd responded. Afterward, the bouldering comp started, and Em and I signed hundreds of posters as well. Literally, for almost 2 hours straight we greeted people. Everyone wanted a signed poster and a picture with the 3 of us. The night continued as we went for some food and drinks, and it got late quickly, but we were all amped because of our successful show and the festival and people in general.

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Giving the slide show at the festival

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At the bar

Here is a friend and BD co worker Nick Rueff’s gallery of the festival.

On Sunday, we got a late start, but went to Moon Hill for our last day of climbing. It was Yuji’s first trip up there. To get up to the breathtaking formation of rock, one must ascend a long hand made stone path with about 800 stairs. It is a pretty cool approach and it winds through a forest of bamboo and other Asian trees and bushes. We met the BD crew up there, and had the place surprisingly to ourselves. It is generally the windiest and coolest crag, and as today was no exception, it was great conditions. Abond joined us all a little after we arrived. A fatigue from climbing days past and a couple late nights of enjoying the festival, as well as a sadness of the awareness of the finality our trip created a mellow pace that carried us through the day. Though exhaustion was present, we climbed happily into the darkness and slowly braved the steep stairway downward and out of our dream.

We went to dinner…To the bar… And, late into the night, until the unfortunate but necessary disbanding of our three-strong crew. Yuji back home to Japan, Emily to Mexico for the Petzl Roctrip, and I to Zhuhai, China to the BD Asia location before Hong Kong for a night and then home. It was made easier however, by the knowledge that we would meet again in practically a single week in Banff, Canada on the other side of the world for the North Face global athlete summit.

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Bar 98 where all the climbers hang out

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