We started late. Usually every climb with Ryan is a late start. It’s great actually. I was mildly uncomfortable still with a waning cold, Colin was in a similar condition and Ryan was just….Ryan. The beer from the night prior never has an effect on him.
Colin set up our transportation and we found a driver to take us out of beautiful Dali on a two hour excursion that ended at a small, quaint town called Shuan Long; the crags were located a good 30-minute, steep hike above the village.
As we took a small but distinct path off the main one, we rounded the mountain and the exposed limestone was in plain sight. Simple, one-pitch wonders that almost lined themselves up by rank for us….5.7, 5.8, 5.9, 5.10 and so on with one 5.14. This was a newly developed area that an American was bolting.
The view was incredible. We could see small villages on the coastal landscape..actually, it was like a coast but not really. The huge lake is called Er Hai (Ear Ocean). They call it an ocean because it’s so huge. Sadly, no fishing due to the lake being polluted. A touristy but pretty island and puffy, marshmallow clouds crowning the area topped it all off. It was a beautiful day of fellow world travellers and climbing friends sharing peanuts, beta and laughs.
Then the rains came before the evening did. As Ryan was on his last climb with Colin at belay, I quickly gathered all loose items to hide underneath the most protruding, protective areas. To no avail really.
We raced down the red, soaking paths; careful not to slip or twist our ankles on the garden of plentiful rocks embedded within our trail. With the village finally in sight, we ran under a cover already occupied by some elderly men and one woman who had spent the day sitting and watching the events of their neighborhood; piqued with curiosity on why we had trekked up the hill with bags only to come back wet and muddied. We hailed for our ride and our hungry stomachs led us back to the town of Dali. The day couldn’t have been more satisfying.