We are mixing things up a bit and starting with the video! For more description and photos continue below.
For the first time in this trip we ventured into territories unknown. Pyn had unsuccessfully attempted to get into China about four years ago (it was on a whim and he didn’t have a visa) using the same route overland via Laos. (He did however manage to illegally swim to China across the border river from NE Vietnam later the same year, but that’s a different story)
This time we had played the stupid China visa roulette game and waited for two weeks in Chiang Mai to get the precious visa stamp. Both of us have independently travelled throughout South East Asia and therefore the last 3 months has been a lot of revisiting our favourite spots. South China was going to be a completely new adventure.
Without much planning we lucked out and boarded a sleeper bus going directly from Pak Nam Noy, Laos, through the Boten border to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan, China.
Our final destination would be the climbing mecca of Getu, which has been immortalised by the Petzl RocTrip of 2011. This would involve three more buses, a train and a bit of hitch hiking – in total about 36 hours of non stop travelling. The joys of travelling overland, although it did mean a good catch up on sleep.
We really didn’t know what to expect in Getu, there are a few blog posts and obviously the Petzl video, so when we arrived we managed to drive straight through the village without realising it. It was low season and the whole village main street was like a ghost town with only the farming locals going around their business.
Communication was interesting as they assumed Pyn could speak Chinese but actually Silvia can speak more words. Another slight concern was that none of the ATM’s we had tried on the journey would take any of our Singapore, Swiss or UK cards.
The main attraction of Getu for tourists and climbers is the Getu Arch also known as the Great Arch, a limestone cave going through the rock, standing at 50m high, 70m wide and 140m in length it’s massive! On top of that there’s another cave below it with a river running through it.
For climbers it’s a bit off the beaten track and harder to get to than other China destinations like Yangshuo. When we arrived we realised we were the only climbers there. Luckily joining the party the next day was Amit an Israeli friend who we had climbed with in Thakhek and Tonsai. Two French girls also arrived and it was just the five of us climbing together for the whole week.
The approach to the cave involved crossing a river by boat and over 1,000 steps to get to the main cave. Of course Pyn forgot the harnesses in the hostel so had to climb the steps twice.
Photos can’t do the cave justice but it was incredible ……….. the size, the scale and the fact you can climb up to 9b in the cave.
We spent six days in and around the Getu Arch with only three of those climbing as we were constantly battling against the wet weather. The short time we did have there was amazing and we were grateful for having the opportunity to experience a true climbing Mecca.
Getu is a very rural area and the farming landscape and local karst hills are breath taking but Silvia wanted a Starbucks! (only joking). We really needed cash desperately and so we made a mad 12 hour dash with Amit to Yangshuo to join our Thakhek/Tonsai/Chiang Mai climbing crew.