Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Shek O 石澳 bouldering

Spring is here. Hong Kong is WET!

Weather forecast was predicting at least five days of rain, which meant any hope of bolt-clipping in Tung Long during my short stay in HK was effectively gone, so before it started getting properly wet, I decided to give Shek O a go.

Taking my rock shoes and the excellent guide provide free by the kind people at http://www.hongkongclimbing.com/ (and no, I did not have a crash mat!), I took bus no.9 from the bus terminal just outside the Shau Kei Wan (筲箕灣) MTR station. The journey took about 15 minutes, the normally scenic route was sadly not very scenic in the light drizzle and the heavy mist.

Arriving at the village, I followed the aforementioned guide and found my way to the boulder spots easy enough. The laid-back setting of the village itself provided the perfect antidote to my last few days of being constantly bombarded by car-horns in Mumbai and by people talking about the latest news on the fund-raising plan by HSBC on their mobiles in Hong Kong. Even though, I suspect if it had been a weekend and if it had not been raining, the place would have been heaving like the rest of Hong Kong!

I warmed up on a couple of V1 problems on "Block 3" in the Village Boulders area just before the footbridge. The holds were positive enough and the friction was certainly good on the granite, but I was constantly being reminded by the scattered blocks underneath my feet of the certain possibility of my ankles breaking if I was going to fall. I did not have the nerve to try the harder problems which consisted mostly of slopers for hands and flat-smearing on the slightly overhanging boulder.

I then crossed the footbridge to look for "The Corridor" but did not hang around long as, again, technical climbing was the order of the day and I was not getting over the fear of potentially breaking my ankles. Some problems certainly looked interesting and I wished I had a crash mat.

Following the path, I made my way to the "Headlands Boulders" area. "Lone Block" was definitely fun. The V0 problem was a well-deserved 3-star, albeit being a bit short. I also managed the 360 traverse but could not do it in one go. Unfortunately the area stank of piss (or maybe it was something coming from the concrete hut next to it), which was a shame as the atmosphere was perfect otherwise (despite the constant drizzling, which I had kind of forgotten about by that point). I then moved on and tried out the three aretes on the "Cliff Top" boulders. The V0 was easy enough and it was kind of fun, but the V1's did not have much in terms of hand holds on them and, again, technical climbing on hard landing was not quite what I was prepared to put myself through. I backed down both climbs.

The drizzle was getting more and more annoying, and being disheartened by my failure to climb the two v1's, I decided to call it a day.

Pretty crap climbing (not a reflection on the quality of the area, but rather a reflection on my own incompetence and the fact that a crash mat is pretty essential), but 30 mins from my doorsteps to a bit of rockclimbing above crashing waves, I could not really complain!

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