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Luca De Giorgi & Gavi Piper


Authors/Editors: Luca De Giorgi Gavi Piper Contributors: Jean Verly Nate Mathy Chris Johnson Luca DePiper Giorgi LucaDesign: De Giorgi & Gavi

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VIETNAM CLIMBING Authorized retailers for this book and its contents limited to: Asia Outdoors, VietClimb and Amazon. Don’t support piracy. Copyright: © 2018, Luca De Giorgi, Gavi Piper. Version: 20190119 ISBN-13: 978-1727545128 ISBN-10: 1727545125 Copyright for the entire content, unless otherwise specified, by Luca De Giorgi and Gavi Piper. This book’s content may not be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission of Luca De Giorgi and Gavi Piper. All rights reserved.

Every effort has been made to contact copyright-holders. Please advise publishers of any errors or omissions, and these will be corrected in subsequent editions. Photos (unless specified otherwise): © Luca De Giorgi Front cover: Chris Lindner in Ha Long Bay. © Brian Solano Back cover: Douglas Talbot climbing at The Arch in Huu Lung, p 58. © Nguyen Lê



VIETNAM Hanoi Mai Chau

CHINA Huu Lung Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba Island




Nha Trang

Ho Chi Minh City


6 8 10 14 16 18 19 20 21 22 23

INFORMATION Vietnam Rock Climbing History Climbing in Vietnam Climate / Karst Geology Access and Ethics Bolting / Gear Climbing Safety How To Read Climb Descriptions Legend / Grading GPS Dangers

24 26 28 31 32 34 36 38 44 46 48 52 54 56 58

HUU LUNG Introduction Climbing in Huu Lung Getting To Huu Lung Rest Days Mao’s Homestay Huu Lung Overview Map Head Wall Chuc Suc Khoe Wall Squirrell Wall La Conche L’Ile Noire Papaya Wall Passe-Muraille The Arch

62 64 67 68

HANOI VietClimb Bouldering Gym VietClimb: Community Action In Huu Lung Quoc Oai

74 76 80 84 86

MAI CHAU General Information Goat Shack Ban Be Narwhal

88 90 91 92 97 98 100 102

HA LONG BAY Introduction Climbing in Ha Long Bay Asia Outdoors The Cat Ba Langur Cat Ba Town Map Getting To Cat Ba Rest Days

104 106 128 132 142

ISLAND CLIMBING Butterfly Valley Buddha Cave Hidden Valley Ben Beo

144 146 148 152 154 156 158 160 161 162 164 166 166 168

BAY CLIMBING Moody Beach Tiger Beach Pirate’s Belly Van Boi Trong Big Ben Chu Bien Tower Amphitheatre Monkey Wall Flying Fish Wall Hon Dua The Corkscrew Saigon Wall The Face

170 172 173 174 175 176 180 182 184 186 187 188 190 192 194 195 196 198 200 201 202

BAY DEEP WATER SOLO Fine Wine Shit Rob Streak of Lightning Crag X Hawaii 5-0 Three Brothers Tung Thit Jellyfish Wall Andy Cave Never Never Land Unemployment Wall Pyramid Cave Stingray Wall Bond Bastic Band Tastic Hang Ca Cave Le Mekong 1947 Fishermen’s Way Gingerbread Monster Face

204 206 208 209 209 210 211 212 214

MORE CLIMBING Nha Trang Bouldering Dam Mon Hon Chong Nui Da Chong Hang Rai Mui Dinh Ho Chi Minh City Climbing Gyms Climbing in Southeast Asia

216 217

Photo Credits Acknowledgements



The Arch is a must-do for every climber visiting Huu Lung. Stunning scenery combined with great lines makes this crag an exceptional place to climb. What are you waiting for? CLIMBING: The long approach is quickly forgotten when The Arch comes into sight. Currently existing lines lead up gorgeous rock to the base of the arch’s roof. The rock is highly featured and often looks easier than it actually is. Once at the top, don’t forget to enjoy the unique view of the arch and valley below. You will find yourself scanning the rock for possible new lines: there is huge potential for new routes here. Routes at The Arch stay dry even in persistent rain, with the possible exception of Quit Your Job and Climb. Because of the cliff under the arch, tying a knot at the other end of your rope is essential. Bring 18 quick draws. The Arch was bolted in 2013 by Giacomo Crivelli and Jean Verly. Routes are equipped with 10 mm stainless steel Kinobi and Mammut expansion bolts (EN 959 UIAA).

ACCESS AND ETIQUETTE: Be very respectful while hiking up private land: do not use the cableway and take care not to harm trees. Refrain from letting anything fall: The Arch is situated above an orchard and farmers do not wear helmets.


Rear entrance to The Arch








Avoid climbing at The Arch after rain: the last section of the approach is on steep ground which easily turns to mud. Your only defense against sliding will be trees (not recommended in terms of caring for vegetation). GPS: 21°34’7.18”N, 106°24’36.67”E




GETTING THERE: Coming from Hanoi, continue on Highway 1A 3.3 km past the left turn onto DT 243. (Coming from Yen Thinh Village, follow DT 243 south to Highway 1A, then turn left onto Highway 1A for 3.3 kilometers.) Turn left onto a dirt track leading into the hills. Drive 2 kilometers: pass the quarry and park your bike when you arrive to two material cableways that lead up and left. Follow the path that leads in the same general direction as the righthand cableway. The path will wind up the hill and lead you to the end of this cableway. Follow the path five more minutes to a simple hut, where another cableway starts (The Arch’s rear entrance is located above the upper end of this cableway). Continue on the path for a few more minutes, scramble up the custard apple orchard to its highest point, and continue upward until you see The Arch opening up under you. Should you need to ask a local for directions, ask for Hang Hong, which is The Arch’s Vietnamese name.

View of The Arch





Giacomo Crivelli climbing L’Arrache Coeur - 6c+, at The Arch. © Nguyen Lê


© Nguyen Lê





The first two routes are located on the east side of the arch. 1. QUIT YOUR JOB AND CLIMB - 6b+ 30 m, 15 Bolts, FA Douglas Talbot 2013 The lefthand of the two routes on the east side is a solid warm up: slabby and with good rests all the way. The crux is a short but hard traverse to the left on pinches and sidepulls. Many try it; few succeed. 2. TRANG’S LOVE - 5b 20 m, 12 Bolts, FA Trang Bui 2013 Weasel your way up through tufas and bushes. Fun!

⁕ 3. WE’RE ISLAND - 7a

28 m, 17 Bolts, FA Jean Verly 2013 A beautiful line connecting three bouldery cruxes with good rests in between. Same start as L’arrache-coeur.

⁕ 4. L’ARRACHE-COEUR - 6c+

28 m, 14 Bolts, FA Giacomo Crivelli 2013 A steep start on surprisingly polished rock leads to a crux just before the end of the steep part, where it’s all about finding the right sequence before smearing off the wall. Easier climbing on great holds to the top. 5. L’ANARCHO - Project 28 m, 18 Bolts, Bolted ground up by Giacomo Crivelli, 2013 Open project.


Conveniently located in a beautiful spot near Mai Chau Village, the Goat Shack is a fun introduction to climbing in Mai Chau. The cliff sports 11 unique climbs from lowintermediate (4+) to difficult (7c). Beware the occasional goat on the mid-wall ledge... and remember to turn around and take in the view from the top! CRAG HISTORY: Goat Shack, Mai Chau’s first crag, established in 2011 by Onslo Carrington and Vu Nguyen as an avenue to encourage continued climbing growth in Vietnam and provide a beginning crag for Hanoi locals and school groups. Goat Shack saw first ascents by Onslo Carrington, Vu Nguyen, Matthew Raue and Jo Bulmer in 2011. Further development by Nate Mathy and Arjan Nekoie followed in 2016 and 2017. CLIMBING: Goat Shack offers an awesome slice of limestone with some quite unusual cracks and pockets. Lines are mostly vertical: the only overhanging moves are found in overcoming a ledge halfway up the face. Rock quality is excellent in the upper half and has been cleaned thoroughly in the lower half. Nonetheless, beware of loose rock on easier lines. Protection is excellent: Goat Shack was bolted between 2011 and 2017 in bolt type A and bolt type B. Bring a 60-meter rope and at least 13 draws to climb the longer lines at the Goat Shack. As usual, be prepared to thread the anchor for your rappel. No entry fee is currently required to climb at Goat Shack. Goat Shack faces NE and is shaded from late morning onwards. It is not protected from rain. ACCESS AND ETIQUETTE: Goat Shack occasionally plays host to school groups from Hanoi: please give them priority.



GETTING THERE: Goat Shack is located approximately 10 minutes by motorbike from Mai Chau Village. Turn right (southwest) from the Mai Chau Lodge parking lot and follow the main road for 2.9 km. Turn right on a dirt track and cross the river, heading through the rice paddies toward the quarry at the other side of the valley. Before reaching the quarry, turn right and follow the dirt track for 500 meters. You will see the crag at your left, located next to a small farm. Park your motorbike just under the crag. GPS: 20°38’26.0”N, 105°03’50.2”E

Leah Thomas belaying Rob Lucking on Ryan is a Chump - 7c at Goat Shack, p 80. © Zach Mahone



1. BABIES RUNNING ON BOATS - 4+ 12 m, 6 Bolts, FA Onslo Carrington, Vu Nguyen 2011 Start on the left side of the dirt mound in wide, juggy cracks. Move to the left onto a vertical flank and proceed up through the right blocky, sharp ledges. Anchors are on the left face. Refrain from holding onto tree roots. 2. THANK HEAVENS - 5a 10 m, 7 Bolts, FA J. Bulmer, M. Raue 2011 Start as for Babies Running on Boats. Climb up and right for five bolts through ledges, into the big vertical flakes, and finish at the anchor left of Venom.

⁕ 3. VENOM - 6a+

10 m, 7 Bolts, FA J. Bulmer, M. Raue 2011 Start on two obvious runnels, under the white streak in the corner. Stay in the center for the true climb, and don’t forget to hand-jam the crack at least once. Find the pockets. 4. PINKY STINK - 5b 21 m, 11 Bolts, FA Onslo Carrington, Vu Nguyen 2011 An extension of Thank Heavens & Venom. Climb straight above the anchors. Continue big crimpers to the anchors under the tree. 5. MELLOW YELLOW - 5c+ 10 m, 6 Bolts, FA J. Bulmer, M. Raue 2011 Start to the right of Venom under the bulge. Climb the narrow face with cracks and pockets, through the bulge. Head up and right above the ledge. The corner to the right provides an easier variation (not good for the lead). 6. BAMBOO BEAST - 5c 10 m, 8 Bolts, FA J. Bulmer, M. Raue 2011 Climb the blocky, thin cracks straight up the face to the anchors.

⁕ 7. HAPPY TO CRY - 5c

24 m, 15 Bolts, FA Onslo Carrington, Vu Nguyen 2011 An extension of Bamboo Beast Proceed onto the face to the anchors above the small overhang. A good warm-up climb on beautiful rock! 8. SON OF BAMBOO BEAST - 5b 10 m, 6 Bolts, FA J. Bulmer, M. Raue 2011 Directly to the right of Bamboo Beast. 9. HOLE IN THE WALL - 5b 10 m, 6 Bolts, FA J. Bulmer, M. Raue 2011 The far right route up the pockets on the face. Be wary of loose rock. 10. RYAN IS A CHUMP - 7c 25 m, 15 Bolts, FA Nate Mathy 2017 Extension to Hole in the Wall. Navigate a starting crux and follow a series of small holds to a diagonal crack. Head toward the dihedral and up onto a ledge before a last stretch to the anchors. The first bolt is worth stick clipping if you have something handy.


16 m, 7 Bolts, FA A. Nekoie & N. Mathy 2016 From the main ledge, start with the under cling and throw to a good pocket. Continue up the technical dihedral to the anchors. (Note: your belayer should use a rope tether to the first bolt to avoid falling off the ledge.)


4 10






8 5




INTRODUCTION Butterfly Valley, or Lien Minh by its Vietnamese name, is a jewel in the jungle within Cat Ba Island. Its location outside the National Park makes it much easier to access, but the landscape is the same. Lien Minh is owned by a few farming families who quietly go about their business of cultivating and herding. The majority of the land, including the crag, is owned by a friendly couple named Trinh and Nga. They also own The Hive, the climber’s hangout in Butterfly

Upper Mantle

Valley. This is where you can safely leave a motorbike, use the restroom, and buy drinks and snacks. You can also ask Nga to prepare a traditional Vietnamese lunch or dinner and enjoy the family’s company. Although the field in Butterfly Valley floods during the monsoon, approximately 50% of the crag remains accessible through a higher trail leading from The Hive.

Gumby’s Hangout

Cool Banana

CLIMBING: Butterfly Valley is the region’s biggest and most diverse crag, with more than 60 climbs spanning all grades and styles. The cliff faces south-southeast and receives sun for most of the morning. Shade moves from the right side of the wall to the left, generally covering the entire crag by afternoon.

The bases of most climbs are sheltered by trees, making it possible to climb even on sunnier days. Unless it has rained much during previous days, it is possible to climb at Butterfly Valley even in persistent rain since there are many sheltered climbs. Bring a 70 meter rope for some of the crag’s longer climbs.

Solitary Wall Dragon Cave

Center of the Universe




Pond Wall



The Face, or Dadung, is one of Ha Long Bay‘s most beautiful and unique walls. Located far out in the bay, the boat ride to the island is an adventure in itself. Originally called Han‘s Island, The Face was first climbed in 2003 by Tim Emmett, Grant Farquhar, Seb Grieve, and Neil Gresham. Tim Emmett made the first ascent of Nightrider after dark, hence the route‘s name. CLIMBING: The Face is a small island with one perfect wall. The cliff gradually gains steepness, transitioning from just shy of vertical to a wonderfully exposed overhang. Much of the rock consists of flowstone, glazed as though wax had been poured down onto it and frozen mid-run, creating small stalactites. Pinching up this wall is pure fun. Rock outside established lines can be brittle. It is highly recommended that the belayer wear a helmet. The climbs receive morning shade and afternoon sun exposure. GETTING THERE: The Face is part of an island complex across the main channel east of Ben Beo. A basket boat ride takes 90 to 120 minutes and is impossible in rough seas. Routes on The Face were not set by Asia Outdoors. Ask at the Asia Outdoors office in regards to bolts‘ current conditions and about chartering a basket boat with a knowledgeable driver to reach the crag. The Face is technically located inside the national park. There is a very small chance rangers may approach your boat and ask for payment of a National Park fee.

GPS: 20°46’7.70”N, 107° 8’10.65”E

⁕ 1. LICENSE TO CLIMB - 7a+ 25 m, 13 Bolts, FA Erik Ferjentisk 2008 Climb 5 meters to the last good rest and push to the top through small pinches and crimps. Technical and sometimes balancy climbing requiring some endurance.




2. LICENSE TO CLIMB EXTENSION - 7c 32 m, 17 Bolts, Lee Cujes 2009 The extension is not often repeated since rock and bolt quality are quite bad.

⁕ 3. NIGHTRIDER (aka THE FACE) - 7b 30 m, 14 Bolts, FA Tim Emmett 2003 It‘s safer to share the first few meters of License to Climb rather than climbing the brittle rock at the base of the original route. A climber with good endurance will cruise through an amazing sequence of pinches to the high crux. The last 3 meters of the climb become difficult, requiring good technique, intuition, and a hidden reserve of power. Oh, it’s also a bit run out. 4. PHOTO SOLO NO MORE - 5b 12 m, 8 Bolts, FA Unknown Smear up the slab for some amazing photos.












Pyramid Cave, or Hang Dam, is a perfectly pyramidal cave. Its few lines tend to be too hard for DWS beginners. Visiting is worth the basket boat ride if only for Ha Long Nights. Pyramid Cave is also conveniently located beside Stingray Wall, which has several easier lines. This area was first explored by Neil Gresham, Tim Emmett, Seb Grieve and Grant Farquhar, who recorded climbs 3 to 5. Swim through the tunnel at the back of the cave to find a hidden lagoon, but make sure to check tides– you could be trapped inside or find it tricky to swim against the current. CLIMBING: All climbs are very steep, following natural weaknesses such as tufas and cracks. Falls are clean and the water deep enough at tides higher than 2.5 meters. Start holds can be hard to reach at tides below 2.5 meters. The cave receives afternoon sun and is completely sheltered from rain. Tufa climbs 3 and 4 may be wet after prolonged rainfall. In this area, rangers may approach your boat and ask for payment of a National Park fee.




GETTING THERE: See access directions for Unemployment Wall. Pyramid Cave lies just across the channel. 1. BROTHER PAT - 6a+ 2. BROTHER OLI - 7c

⁕ 3. WHITE POWDER, GREEN LIGHT - 7b+ 16 m - The harder version of Ha Long Nights. ⁕ 4. HA LONG NIGHTS - 7a+ 16 m - Amazing climb. Make like a langur while swinging from one tufa to another. 5. BLOOD BATH - 7b+

⁕ 6. HANOI TANKS - 7a+ 8 m - Start on a beautiful and athletic sequence of huecos. 7. PROJECT - ? 10 m - Climb and report!

Milly Kay climbing Ha Long Nights - 7a+, in Pyramid Cave, p 190. © Ludovic Luan Tran



Located on a beautiful, quiet spot next to the sea, this is a perfect place for a day of relaxing and easy bouldering. CLIMBING: Hang Rai offers a dozen or so problems, with interesting climbing in a great surrounding. Landings are often rocky and need careful spotting. Due to the immediate proximity to the sea, features tend to be weak and some lines need to be cleaned. Some high ball/small cliffs in the area may deserve a top-rope.

Hang Rai. © Trang Bui

GETTING THERE: Hang Rai is located 30km North of Phan Rang. Follow the TL 702 north and turn right at the obvious dirt track. Drive by some buildings associated with Nui Chua National Park to reach the beach. GPS: 11°40’37.5”N, 109°10’55.0”E


Great rock on an endless sandy beach. Not many lines have been established here: are you looking for a first ascent? CLIMBING: Mui Dinh rates among Vietnam’s most diverse in terms of bouldering variety, sporting slabs, vertical and overhanging lines. The solid rock offers crimps, crags and even the odd pocket. Fall zones are generally good, but bring a saw to clear the vegetation.

Mui Dinh. © Jean Verly


GETTING THERE: Mui Dinh is located 25 kilometers South of Phan Rang. From Phan Rang, cross the An Dong bridge, then follow the coastal road south. The area with most potential lies a few kilometers before you reach Mui Dinh, a romantic cove that also offers some bouldering. Boulders ar located close to a buggy park west of the road. GPS: 11°27’25.4”N, 108°59’48.4”E

Profile for Luca De Giorgi

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