Yangshuo China Trip Report – Twin Gate Mountain and its West Tower

The approach to Twin Gate Mountain was flat and pleasant – occasional breezes took heat away while we greeted the locals. At the crag, there was a big cave equipped with a stone table and benches. When we arrived there, routes were occupied by a guided group. Therefore we decided to head to the West Tower first and do the three-pitch route, Penthouse Platforms (5.10a, 5.8, 5.8).

The guidebook said, “This route has a great top-out with fantastic views.” I couldn’t agree with this statement more. On top of the route, I felt serenity. The houses, fields, towers, and the river were in order, presenting peacefulness. Many bamboo rafts were drifting down with tourists. It was very fun watching the boat owners control their rafts passing through river drops. River water covered the raft and soon sifted through the bamboos poles and returned to the river. It would be great, we wondered, if we could hire a raft to take us all the way back to Yangshuo after our climb.

Penthouse Platforms didn’t seem to get much traffic. The path leading to the base was covered by weeds. The first pitch was the cleanest part of climb, and Ian led it. What was left for me to lead was all sharp and dirty, not to mention fighting with jungles.

Since the second pitch was short, I decided to link it with the third pitch. I soon realized it wasn’t a good idea because the third pitch was longer than I expected and I didn’t have enough draws. Even though I saved one or two draws from the second pitch, in order to finish the climb, I still had to skip at least three or four more bolts. I remember vividly that at one point I had already skipped two bolts in a row and got to this ledge with one draw on my harness. I looked up and I could see the next bolt. I had to climb out toward left from the ledge I was resting on. I was confident that I would not fall but I was still getting nervous, “what if… this is a long runout… damn it!” Anyway, I managed to clip the bolt just fine and got to the final anchor with a perfect belay stance. Ian and I climbed to the top and enjoyed the view until it was too chilly to stay.

We went back to Twin Gate Mountain after Penthouse Platforms. The guided group was packing up. Ian and I sat on the stone bench inside the cave, munching on snacks and watching them leave. The two guides raised two hundred-yuan bills to check whether they are counterfeit with the help of the sunlight and left as well. We then led one route and top-roped another.

I led the route called Da Pi Gu (it means Big Booty). It was rated 5.9, but somehow it was difficult for me. I wasn’t sure whether it was because I was tired or it was because the footholds before the second bolt were pretty polished and therefore I was scared. I top-roped it again after Ian led it. Surprisingly, even though I had knew all the moves already, the climb didn’t get easier. Moves were powerful and I didn’t understand how I managed to lead it!

We used Da Pi Gu to set up the top rope for the first pitch of Kin Jiang Black, which was a fairly technical 5.10b climb. I figured out every move and was able to finish it; nevertheless the climb was very exhausting. The most difficult move was the start; one had to reach really high to get to a jug. Interestingly, at the base of the climb somebody had put a cheater block to stand on. However, the cheater block wasn’t big enough for me; therefore I had to borrow Ian’s knee. Aside from the first move, one move I loved the most was a balancing move. One has to maintain his balance to stand up straight and use his left hand to do a gaston-style of side pull to pass the section. Both Ian and I top-roped it twice before we called it a day.

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