A Guide to Climbing in Baihe, near Beijing (for experts)

For experienced climbers looking to find out where to climb in the area, please check out the article by Ola Przybysz below.
It contains useful information about Baihe, a great area for outdoor climbing in the Beijing area.

 Climbing outdoors is probably one of the most amazing and fun experiences a person can have. However, as with any "extreme sport" there are definite risks involved. Rock climbing is an inherently dangerous activity that can result in serious injury and death. The penalty for inexperienced mistakes can be severe. The information presented in these topographic maps is intended for experienced and competent rock climbers. If you are not experienced and competent at outdoor rock climbing, please, seek assistance and instruction from a qualified guide or rock climbing instructor.  Feel free to ask the staff at O'le Climbing for training course information or for recommendations of other professional training programs. We want to help you to get outdoors and safely enjoy the rock. The following information is, like all rock climbing topographic and route information, largely personal opinion. These climbing areas are constantly changing and developing, therefore the information presented here may be inaccurate, not up-to-date, or even no longer true. You as the climber must use your own judgement to decide what is or is not safe. O'le Sports, O'le Climbing, 
and the authors of the following material accept no liability whatsoever arising from the use of this information. By reading, downloading, or in any way using this material you are accepting full responsibility and liability for yourself and for those who may be affected by your actions.
This "work-in-progress guide" is a community based project. If you are a rock climber who is using these climbing areas, you are part of this community. If you discover that any information we provide here is in any way inaccurate, please do not hesitate to email us and let us know so that we can make the changes or at the very least alert others to any potential hazards. If you put 
up a new climbing route let us know so that we can include it and help other climbers find it and enjoy it. A huge thank you to Ola Przybysz, who has done all the work here and who is constantly devoting her time to the Beijing and Chinese climbing community.
Baihe: An introduction to Beijing climbing

by Ola Przybysz

While travelling around the world with a rope and a set of quickdraws in our backpack we often discover beautiful but less-known, or sometimes even completely unknown climbing areas. China is full of such pearls; in this country we not only have great climbing, but there also are many places that we can go to and relax far from the jungles of skyscrapers. Definitely one of these pearls is a granite region known as Baihe (白河 ) located near Beijing. Because of Baihe's proximity to Beijing, the area has a permanent community of dedicated climbers and so the region has developed very quickly. Today, it is possible to climb there on about 200 documented routes distributed over 19 small crags. However, there are dozens and dozens if not hundreds of climbs spread out around Baihe and the Beijing area that have been climbed but haven't been documented. There are tons of sport and trad climbs in Baihe, and in winter months, numerous frozen waterfalls are frequented by a hardcore community of ice-climbers and those who like dry-tooling. Everyone can find something special for themselves and the place is never overcrowded. On workdays it is pretty unlikely to meet 
other climbers at Baihe.

 The first routes in Baihe were bolted sometime during the end of the year 2000. Among others Xu Xiaoming, the mysterious Andes, and Craig Lubben (RIP) are often mentioned as the precursors. The latter was also active in the development of Yangshuo, where we can find over ten routes authored by him. In the next few years local climbers from Beijing established the "Baihe jijin" fundation (白河基金) to take care of the quality of climbing and route development in Baihe, and to promote and develop the area. Since 2006 the China Mountaineering Development Institute (CMDI) organization has constantly been active in the area through organizing routedevelopment training courses, during which new routes are being bolted. The Bee Gorge (蜜蜂峡谷), the largest sector in Baihe and also one of the most popular due to a large number of easy and moderately difficult routes was opened as a result of their activities. Because the routes in Baihe were almost all established quite recently, there aren't too many dangerous old bolts or rusted anchors. The locations of some bolts may be questionable, but the overall condition of the protection can be described in one word as 'good'. That having been said, always check the condition of all the bolts that you use and use your own judgment when deciding what to trust. As in many other climbing regions with similarly formed granite, rock fall is a big concern. Helmets are strongly recommended for both climbers and belayers.
 If we want to describe the style of climbing in Baihe, it is a little difficult to cut the long story short. Sectors differ widely in both the quality and the kind of rock. The walls are mainly vertical or slabs, though there are some overhanging cliffs and roofs to be found. There is a lack of comfortable pockets and it is recommended to have some training on side-pulls, pinches, rounded ledges, or cracks before the trip. Generally, strong fingers are more useful here than huge biceps. For those who are looking for some warm-ups, the 
Bee Gorge (no. 1 on the map) mentioned earlier is worth checking out. For stronger climbers, we suggest climbing in the Lao Guai sector (no. 4 on the map). The route which the area is named after is a classic test piece (Lao Guai 5.13a/b). The grades here are not easy, so don't expect to be climbing at a high grade very quickly.

Most of the routes fall into the 5.10 to 5.11 range. Beginners and the advanced may feel a bit disappointed; however, a few 5.14 projects are still waiting for their conquerors. The single pitch routes are never longer than 30 meters, so the standard equipment is a 60 m rope and 15 quickdraws.

The 'added value' of the region is its proximity to The Great Wall: many of the routes here offer the opportunity to have a seldom seen view of the proud stone snake slowly winding over the hills. On rest days, it is worthwhile to visit some restored sections of The Great Wall because the Wall here is really impressive (e.g. Simatai (司马台) and Jinshanling (金山岭). Those more ambitious or those looking for less-crowded places may enjoy trekking on nearby hills or along the 'wild' sections of The Great Wall.
Transportation and accommodation:

The trip to Baihe from Beijing starts at the long-distance bus station at Dongzhimen (东直门). From here you have to first go to a large town called Miyun (密云), which is about 60 km north-west of Beijing. There are a number of ways/buses to get there, but be careful because some of the buses make frequent stops at small villages on the way, which makes the journey much longer. The best choice is the express bus (快), number 980, which gets to Miyun in roughly 1 hour. In the town you have to look for private transportation: usually it is a shared-taxi minivan. Literally at every bus stop in the town, you can find some 'private' taxi drivers, but definitely the best stop to look for them is gulou. The price is negotiable, and it is recommended to negotiate and never accept the first price. Not all drivers know the climbing spots, so the knowledge of popular tourist places scattered around the area is useful. The region closest
to Miyun is located around 500 m north of Heilongtan (黑龙潭). Laoguai and Xiaoguai are about 500 m from Jingdudiyipu park (京都第一瀑). For those who plan to stay a few days there, transportation from the hostel may be more covenient. There are many 
hostels of various standards in the village of Zhangjiafen (张家坟). One can also find a lot of accommodation options here, starting from 15 RMB per bed. There is also a climbing hostel called Delaijia(德莱家)which is centrally located in this area. The owners know the location of all the climbing spots and for a small fee will take you there. You can also meet other climbers here and find maps of the area. Every hostel offers simple Chinese food as well as the famous roasted fish from the nearby artificial lake. The lake is a source of potable water for Beijing and is very clean. In the village there are only two small shops with a limited scope of products. For the most part, it is close to impossible to buy any vegetables here.