Bouldering in the Tropics

The idea of bouldering on sun kissed beaches surrounded by a tropical paradise might be every climbers dream but give me a grit crag any day.

My first venture into bouldering in the tropics was in Hong Kong which might not be on everyones ticklist but Hong Kong is littered with boulders, many have been built on, and many have been nearly been built on which means you are often climbing in close proximity to someone's house. Village boulders in Shek O is one such place, they lie just beyond the houses and just before the headland proper starts and are great place to boulder being easy to get to and with the decent sea breeze so they don't get too greasy.

I used spend a lot of time here on my days off when I lived in Hong Kong. I'd get back from China sometime Saturday evening head straight for Lai Kwai Fong have a few beers, find something to eat and I'd either be ready for bed or ready to party, either way I'd wake up on Sunday Morning head to Shek O with my beach towel and boots. Go for a swim and then out to the headland for some soloing. Bouldering wasn't really main stream in 1996 so the difference between high ball bouldering and soloing wasn't really on my radar. Just the very simple rule that you don't fall off, because if you do it's going to hurt. Most of the problems where V0-V3 but sometimes felt much harder with no mat and greasy hands.

When we started doing boulder mats I found myself at a loose end in HK with a Woomf. I decided that I should find somewhere new to boulder and with the newly published Hong Kong Bouldering (2004) I decided to try and find Chung Hum Kok. I caught the bus to Stanley and found my way to the access road. The problem with boulders is that they are not always easy to find. Trying to find the Cromlech, Ceuse, El Cap is a pretty easy affair but trying to find the beach boulders or more accurately trying to find the way to the boulders through pretty much jungle is harder than it looks. Basically the instructions were "down the slope" when they should of read push through impenetrable rainforest/hedge. After 2 hours of knowing the boulders were less than 50m away I decided there was no easy way, just the hard way, so I threaded me and the boulder mat headfirst downhill through the foliage, and didn't stop until I got wet as I figured beach boulders meant next to the water.

I found the boulders but to be honest I was in no fit state to climb them. I sat enjoying the view and decided that I should head back but this time I took what the guidebook described as the slighly harder wateredge path which was in fact a doodle if you like hopping between boulders. Only the last 100m was scary due to some scabby looking dogs chasing me along the greasy path. Finally I reached the road with some pretty grim sweat patches showing as I walked back to Stanley.

By Nick