Three weeks ago I tore myself away from a perfect October in Yosemite, to partake in the Petzl Roctrip in the Getu Valley, China... What a crazy contrast, after an epic two days of traveling, I found myself in rural China, staying in a tiny village surrounded by an amazing amount of incredible limestone walls.
This was my first experience of a Roctrip, I did not know what to expect and was at first a little intimidated... However, this was definitely unnecessary - I was greeted by an amazingly supportive and welcoming crew of strong, psyched and supportive climbers from all over the world. The vibe was awesome and the focus was definitely on just having fun climbing and exploring this unique area.
The Getu Valley is an incredible place - unlike anywhere else I have been... Walking through terraced rice fields and bamboo plantations (which were all still plowed by hand), being taken across the river by a boatman with a bamboo pole and walking up well over a thousand prefect steps to reach a massive limestone arch, containing the most incredible features and very diverse climbing. From powerful climbing on crazily slick scooped slopers down low on the walls of the arch, to creative three-dimensional climbing through upside-down forests of tufas on the massive horizontal roof - A stunning location which is several hundred meters up above the ground and littered with stalactites.
It was a shock to my system to suddenly be clipping blots and throwing myself at hard sport routes. However, I really enjoyed it, especially being able to climb multi-pitch routes without needing to take anything other than a few quick-draws! The highlight of the trip for me was climbing one of the classic multi-pitch routes with Lynn Hill. "Lost in Translation" 5.13a was the first route to be established to the top of the arch... It is a four pitch route which takes an impressive line through the right hand side of the arch. It was incredible doing a multi-pitch route on such steep terrain. Luckily the route had been equipped with suspended bamboo rods at each belay, prefect and authentic seats, without which it would have been a much less pleasant experience.
For the duration of the roctrip, the tiny village turned into a swarming hive of activity and the crags were super busy... It was great fun climbing with such an amazing crew, but our psyche levels wavered... Non of us understood a word, we quickly got sick of eating noodles and most of us got sick at least once during trip. However, I am thankful that I was able to stay for another week after the event. To climb with the Five Ten athletes and watch the town slowly return to its normal rhythm - a sleepy little village where life is simple, machinery is scarce and everything happens on the street... there are water buffalos wandering down the street, kids playing, babies pooping, food drying, being prepared and being eaten, even parties (bonfires) happened in the middle of the street.