Long Dong, 2010, plagued my mind before i arrived in Taipei. We didnt know if weather, gears, accommodations and many other stuff were going to work out well. It didn’t help when i called my Taiwanese friend Xiao Hu Zhi and he told me there is a cold front and it has been raining for the last 1 week!
Heck, I told ginno, if there is no climbing we go shopping and see Mei Meis. So that was the Taiwan plan!
When we arrived, it all turn out well, the weather was cooling, no sign of rain and when we got to Long Dong in the morning, we were super psyched to see tons and tons of splitter cracks in the sandstone cliff! Awesome! We also had one of the strongest climbers in Taiwan as our tour guide, Xiao Xhiang.
So we spend 2 days at School gate, introducing Ginno to Trad climbing and climbing some easy route to get use to the rocks in Long Dong. Cool temperatures + Sandstone = Phenomena friction . I was climbing in my La Sportiva Ganda Guide for most of the 2 days only changing into climbing shoes when i climb sports or harder trad routes.
This is School Gate taken from my Iphone.
The next day we decided to jump on the adventure wagon, we headed to Lower Dragon Ridge to climb the ultra classic, Commissary Crack, 5.10a, 55m. Im not sure if its the splitter cracks that makes it classic or the loose rocks. We dislodged some serious loose rocks that exploded into the air when they hit the ground. Despite all these, i loved the finger crack mid way of the route and the wide cracks that leads us to the top of the ridge. This is the first time i did not use a nut on a climb which i later found quite common in Long Dong. We decent from the North face of the Dragon ridge which we climbed with Ginno and Munch few days later.
Ginno exiting the wide cracks of Commissary Crack 5.10a (top) and
Qx starting out the same climb (right)
Golden Valley is a happy spot in Long Dong, with crashing waves and daredevil fishermen, there is tons of hard sports, some of which we jumped on without knowing the grades/name of the the routes. There also lies some of the classic trad routes in Long Dong. We cant resist doing some roof routes on trad since so many photos has been posted by Matt Robertson on his website and the guide books of Long Dong. So we jumped on Golden Shower, 5.10a, allowing Kelly to onsight the route.
(Above) Kelly climbing the roof easily, before heading up a slab wall before the chains.
While climbing in Golden Valley, I set my eyes on Goldline, 5.11b R, a beautiful golden wall, gently overhang, with a crack that i cant seems to jam my hands in, just as the cracks splits up, the climb continues to a face climb with no protection and some bouldery sports moves before topping out with your last protection 4m below you. Im not sure does that qualifies as a R climb, meaning you may get yourself injured if you fall. But this is my first R climb, so i was kinda *meow* and Matt Robertson told me that no one ever onsighted this climb. So i figured that i climb the route beside it, Pearl Necklace, 5.10b, to top rope Goldline. It was indeed a wise decision as i found out i would have shit in my pants if i jump on Goldline without top roping it.
I left the project and head to Taipei celebrate Xmas with Matt Robertson, Xiao Hu Zhi and gang who greeted us with the Taiwanese hospitality. We ate and drink and basically enjoyed ourselves taking a break from the 5 days of climbing while waiting for the cold front and rain to go away.
(Above) Munch on the decent point of North Face of Lower Dragon Ridge, 5.6, after leading the beautiful climb in the shade.
The sun was out and we got out to sent more routes. Ginno sent his second 5.10, on Pearl necklace, while i get ready to jump on Goldline. I had a long break and felt good. The climbing was strenuous with a lot of tension moves, placing protection wasn’t too easy too, just before the crux, i placed a .4 camalot (smallest on my rack) and prayed it would hold if i got too pumped at the crux. No dramas on the crux and i send it. Super happy.
(Above) Qx on Goldline, 5.11b R, placing the last protection before the crux. (Photo by Munch)