Category Archives: Climbing

Climbing round the world with kids can be great fun for them and for you too! During our round the world trip Ingrid age 8 and I, her mum, did some amazing climbing in China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Peru and Bolivia. Get inspiration and tips for your own rock climbing adventure here where you can read about our top climbing adventures.

Rock climbing in Bolivia

Sucre – climbing with new friends in Bolivia

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Carlos and Ingrid

We desperately wanted to go climbing in Bolivia as we had not managed to do any climbing at all in Peru. When we were in Peru the catastrophic floods and landslides made it impossible to reach many climbing areas and unsafe to climb in many places. It had been 4 months since our last outdoor climb in Cat Ba Vietnam and we were itching to get back on the rock. At the same time I was wondering if I still would have enough climbing fitness in me to really enjoy it.

 

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Beautiful Ha Long bay Vietnam back in December 2016.

Once we got to Sucre from Potosi and started looking at things to do there, we immediately realised that there is plenty of rock climbing in the Sucre area. Happy days! There are 2 main climbing companies that operate in Sucre and through a friend of climbing friend that met in Lima 2 months earlier, I got in touch with Carlos at ClimbingSucre to se if he could help us out.

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Climbing at base camp Lima

By the time Carlos and I got talking we only had 2 days left in Sucre before our flight to Santa Cruz. Luckily Carlos offered to take us out climbing that same afternoon so that we could fit 2 climbing sessions in before leaving. Perfect! With such a long time since our last climb, to fully enjoy it we would need a proper warmup session before trying any harder climbs. We agreed on 2 half days of climbing at BS1000 and headed off out to Sica Sica crag just a few hours later.

Rock climbing at Sica Sica Crag, Bolivia

With only a handful of climbs in the last year in China, Malaysia, Australia, Thailand x 2, and Vietnam. Ingrid and I were lacking our usual climbing strength, especially in our fingers so we were both hoping to  enjoy climbing some lower grades than usual.

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View over Sucre from Sica Sica crag

Carlos met us at our hostel and a taxi buddy of his picked us all up and drove 10min to the crag at the edge of town. How amazing to have such a big wall to climb right on your door step at almost walking distance from the centre of Sucre. No wonder foreigners have settled here to run climbing businesses.

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Bolivia, Sucre, Sica Sica crag set in a tranquil eucalyptus forest

Getting back on the rock after 4 months break

Ingrid was soo excited she was almost hyper. She was skipping along the steep path up the 20 min ascent from the road to the crag and singing non stop. We soon arrived at the gorgeous crag and enjoyed the great view over Sucre right behind us. The 25m wall has a steep path up one side, perfect for setting up top ropes. Carlos went to set up the ropes, while Ingrid and I got our gear out.

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Ready to climb

As he came back down he was keen to point out that there are a lot of unsafe routes set up by amateurs in Bolivia. 2 routes he pointed out on this wall were set up with unsafe bolts and unless you come here with a guide, you would not know this and perhaps have an accident as a result.  Bolts and drills are hard to come by in Bolivia, and although climb Bolivia pay for some of the routes there guys set up, Carlos also explained he and other climbers have invested a lot of money in bolting routes and buying gear that is more expensive in Bolivia than in most European countries.

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Sore toes

I was not looking forward to unwrapping our smelly shoes that had been hiding in layers of plastic bags in the bottom of Ingrid backpack for months. Happy to find that they were ok and good to use…my feet however were not as pleased. I got another little bag out with what i thought was chalk, only to discover it was a bag of pasta! What a plonker, a days climbing without chalk as Carlos had not brought his either! At least the crag was in the shade so we would hopefully not be climbing too hard or sweating enough to really need it…

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Lovely routes on the Sica Sica crag

We started easy on a couple of 4s on the giant slab and were happy to find that the technique was still in us. We were also pleased to start the 2 days of climbing on a slab as it meant more leg power and less reliance on our weak fingers and arms. Most of the climbs were along flakes and cracks and friction on this sharp sandstone was good all they way. We continued climbing through the 5bs and 5cs  and finished on a couple of lovely long 6as. What a lovely afternoon of climbing.

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Ingrid on top rope at Sica Sica crag Bolivia

Lead climbing on Garcilazo Crag, Bolivia

Day 2 we headed off at 8 and had only a 15 drive to Garcilazo crag. The driver who’s car was running on something other than petrol was struggling to get the car up the hill to our drops off point, but eventually we made it.

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Tricky approach to the Garcilazo crag in Bolivia

Once there I could not see the crag anywhere…turns out that we were on top of it and the approach was s steep scramble down a slippery hill to the impressive wall of exposed sandstone. Luckily Ingrid is like little mountain goat these days so we managed to get there safely in the end. The Garcilazo crag is a high quality vertical sandstone with long cracks, some tough crimpers and a distinct lack of foot holds.

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Typical route on Garcilazo crag in Bolivia

It is south facing so in summer, this shady spot provides great protection form the sun, but as this is winter it was very cold in the shade so I was glad we had brought our hats and puffers. Yann (one of Ingrid climbing coaches back in London) says cold is good for friction said Ingrid with a smile.

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No hanging about, I has asked to lead and that is what I got. I set up the first 5a route and Ingrid second it after me. We were both really suffering with cold fingers, especially the 1st third of every route. It was total agony and  sharp rock on our cold weak fingers made for an uncomfortable start.

Fingers apart, I felt really confident leading this route as it had many options for hands and feet. As the crag is approached from the top, all the ropes can be cleaned from the top as we were leaving, meaning could spend more time climbing and less time cleaning routes.

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Excited and happy to be lead climbing again
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Ingrid working her way up this 6a+

We moved on to top a few other routes of the same line and started to feel the pain building up in our relatively weak finders and feet after months of no climbing. I loved this crag, such a perfectly clean and sharp vertical rock towering up above you and a great mix of comfortable and hared moves. There are also many different routes to climb in a great range of grades from 4 all the way up to 7b+.

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Having a rest before topping out on this long crack

The first few moves on all the route were quite reachy and hard so Ingrid opted to second me while I led. Even I struggled to get the first 2 clips in on all routes and was secretly pleased she opted out of leading today. With more recent climbs in the bags I’m sure she could have led these routes with confidence, but lack of regular climbing does quickly take your top performance and climbing confidence out of you.

 

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Sore fingers after 2 days of climbing

After 4 leads and 2 top ropes my feet were absolutely killing me and Ingrid was getting hungry. Time to head back into Sucre to meet up with Scott and Paul who had been out to se the dinosaur footprints and park.

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Over 5000 dinosaur foot print on this wall
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Having fun in the dinosaur park

 

 

Rock climbing on amazing Railay beach

Opting for a cheaper stay in Ao Nang

The main reason we went to Krabi in Thailand was so that Ingrid and I could do some longed after rock climbing. We opted to stay on the cheaper mainland area in Ao Nang where we could also afford a place with a pool and got a bonus pingpong table at the same time. From Ao Nang the crags at Railway and Tonsai Railay beach is just  a quick boat ride away.

Choosing a guide to climb with in Railay

There are many climbing companies operating in the area to choose from, some are better than others…. For me the most important thing when choosing who too climb all the way through this trip is safety, official certification and insurance policies as Ingrid is very young. Prices for climbing range from 2000 Thb for a 1/2 day in a group of 4-8 to 4000 for 1/2 day with a private guide and 6000 for a full day with a private guide.

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You can rent just the gear and climb on your own, but with limited time to climb, I prefer to hook up with a guide who can show us the best routes and help us set up ropes and to clean the routes. That way we usually get to climb more and I get the trusted belay I need to do some serious climbing myself.

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We booked 2 x 1/2 days climbing with Real Rocks on Railway beach with a private guide. We paid an additional 500 Thb for Paul and Scott come along in the shuttle and boat so that they could hang out at the beach for the day while Ingrid and I climbed.

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Getting to the 123 crag at and Railay beach

img_8425The Real Rock shuttle picked us up at 7.30 and did the rounds collecting people, then a 20min  boat ride from Krabi Town to Railey beach. Once at the climbing shop the boys went off exploring while we met our guide Wan and got kitted out with ropes, quick draws, slings and helmets.

To get warmed up we started off with some gentle top ropes on the 123 crag. This is the really big crag often used for beginner classes so it was quite crowded through the day. The good thing about this crag is that it had a range of routes suitable for both me and Ingrid. It was also in the shade all day, perfect for climbing in the hot weather here.

Our last outdoor climb climb was over 2 months ago in Yangshuo China so we were feeling a bit rusty to start off with. I was worried about how much my hands and feet would be able to take as well and so with 2 days climbing planned wanted to make sure i left them in a good place for some harder climbing tomorrow.

Ingrid lead climbing at 123 crag Railay

The sand and sea keeps the friction on the rock pretty good with lots of little pockets for your hands and feet. Most of the routes are straight up with little overhang or slabs. A couple of top ropes to start and them I was leading Dr Jekyll & Mrs Hyde remembering how much I love lead climbing. Ingrid started leading indoors a few months back and now wanted to give it a go on this wall. Wan was great supporting her, giving her the right routes to lead and the confidence to do it.

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As in many situations, in sport or with school I find that Ingrid respond much better to coaching from an outsider than me telling her what to do. In Yangshuo I was amazed at the confidence and grit she showed when being pushed by Alex and Karst climber.

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The same happened here with Wan, and as she was one of the best and most experienced climbers on the crag that day, surrounded by beginner climbers, she pushed her on that bit harder as well. Ingrid lead 3 routes starting with Little Monkey, finishing  and topped 3 while I led 5 and topped 1. The last route was a 25m+ 6a hat she simply took in her stride.(cannot remember which one.

The landscape here is too beautiful, its such a privilege to just be here let along climb. Ingrid is already planning her own climbing trips for when she is  older and can go on her own with her buddies. Seriously need to come back for some more climbing as well.

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We climbed from 9.30-1 then went to the other side of the island for a cooling swim afterwards. Definitely something I recommend. Boat back at 5.30, shuttle just after 6 and back at the hotel for 6.30

Day 2 Climbing Diamond Cave

Day 2to was just Ingrid and me, the boys opted to stay at home. Wan took us to Diamond cave crag which was less busy and offered some shorter but more technical and very enjoyable climbs. The 1st hour here was totally exposed and we were sweating profusely during our first climbs. Slightly higher grades, Ingrid opted not to led, but I lead all day finishing on a couple of great 6bs.

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The other great thing about this place is the amazing coffee right at the bottom of crag where Highland Rock climbers have their “office”.img_5016

A hot latte never tasted so good as it did that day. I am excited watching Ingrid climb today, full of confidence and with fantastic technique. My favourite was watching her conquer the overhang on KFC and  effortlessly out climbing top young men on the routes next to her. We were buzzing after 2 days of real rock and eager to plan our next climb in Chiang Mai a couple of weeks later.

Climbing round the world with Ingrid, 8

Getting into rock climbing

I first started indoor climbing 15 years ago, enrolling in beginners course in West Way, London  with a friend of mine. Back then I think the male talent had just as much, if not more pull than the climbing itself. It was just the kind of sport I’d been longing to try out, since my days ski bumming round Europe in my early twenties.

My climbing adventure was short and sweet as I stopped 6 months later when I moved south London and had no close access to a good indoor wall. Some time later I met Paul, got married, had Ingrid and Scott. After we bought our 1st house together, 5 years ago in Surbiton, SW London  I got back into climbing again when I discovered the new White Spider climbing wall 10 min bike ride from our house!

 

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Climbing at Swiss cheese crag in Yangshuo China

Before leaving London for our round the world adventure, I used to go to White Spider 2 times a week climbing, hanging out with friends and taking Ingrid to her junior competition squad training sessions.

Passion for climbing

There are so many things I love about climbing, the fitness and strength it requires to be good, the mental part of clearing your mind and focusing only on the climb you are doing and all the great people and friends I have met through climbing. It can be a competitive sport, but you mainly compete against yourself together with other people. In the last 2 years I have also grown to love the outdoor climbing and just having an adventure in the mountains challenging myself and simply enjoying climbing.

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Ingrid, 8 first started coming with me to climb and found she loved it just as much as I do. In the year before we left London she was training very hard in the competition squad, developing technique and strength. In April 2016 she did her first outdoor climb and was totally hooked.  2016 was also the year when I properly started climbing out doors as well and went on my first outdoor trip with my favourite climbing girls to Villa Nueva del Rosario outside Malaga in Spain.

Ingrid leading Do It For Billy Joel on Moody beach, Han La bay Vietnam

Climbing our way round the world

So in planning our round the world trip, we agreed that part of the adventure would be to try and climb in all countries on our trip. The world famous beach of Raily and Tonsai in Thailand were high on the list, as well as the more obscure and less climbed Yangshuo in China. We also had our minds set on climbing in Vietnam and are hoping to find lots of places to climb in Central and South America.

123 wall on Railay, Krabi Thailand

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Diamond wall- diamonds are forever!

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Can you spot Ingrid on the wall!

I was looking at ways to keep climbing fit on our travels, but the weight and size of or bags dictated that we could not bring any gear for training. We have shoes, harnesses and chalk only and so plan to climb with a guide and, or rent gear as we go along.

In places where we struggle to find the time or money to climb outside, we try to find some cool indoor walls to try out. This will help somewhat to keep climbing fit while travelling but I’m sad that my finger strength has already faded away to nothing.

Ingrid climbing Captian Kirk Eats Bruchetta at Swiss cheese and me climbing Blood at  Twin Gate

So I have finally come to terms with the fact that I will be doing some amazing outdoor climbing this year on a lover level than I’d really like, but will enjoy it for what it is. At home I would happily climb 6b+ , 6c and project 7a , while here I’ll be settling for 6-6b+. Ingrid is not pushing the grades either this year due to lack of regular climbing, but is building technique and confidence in lead climbing and all other outdoor climbing. It will be interesting to see the effects of our Christmas Deep Water Soloing when we go climbing next.

Watch this space for our next epic climb!

Deep Water Soloing in Cat Ba, Vietnam – Best mum and daughter day ever

Ingrid 8, goes Deep Water Soloing – her one and only Christmas wish come true

We planned to stay in Cat Ba for a week over Christmas to give Ingrid her a very special Deep Water Solo climb for her Christmas present.

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Ingrid getting all set for her deep water solo Christmas gift

We hooked up the the AsiaOutdoors team as soon as we arrived on Cat Ba and booked in 2 days of climbing with a friendly discount that Rich the GM had promised us while climbing together in Chiang Mai a few weeks earlier.

Getting ready to climb our first ever deep water solo climb.

We arrived on Cat Ba quite late on the 20th and headed straight out to climb early on the 21st as this was the day with the highest tide for the duration of our stay here.

AsiaOutdoors run all sorts of outdoor activities here, mainly kayaking, climbing and hiking. The bus that took us to the harbour was full of people going out for the day doing different activities. We all got on a AsiaOutdoors junk boat where we would later be having lunch as well.

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ON the boat with AsiaOutdoors

On our Deep Water Solo boat was Rob, an AsiaOutdoors guide originally from NZ, Ash & Lilo, Ingrid and me. The grey morning skies were not looking too inviting and I was worried about the temperature of the water but I needn’t have worried.

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Feeling nervous as we head out to the crag

By the time got got to our 1st crag, Hawaii 5-0 the sun was starting to break through and our spirits excitement levels were running high.

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Sun shining as we approached our 1st Crag Hawaii 5-0

I was feeling excited and nervous not sure how Ingrid would react once we actually started climbing. AsiaOutdoors had never taken anyone under the age of 15 Deep Water Soloing before so Rob briefed us all on safety, especially for Ingrid to make sure we would all be able to help if needed.

AsiaOutdoors use local boatsmen to manage the climbing boats and they are very skilled at getting in and out close to the rock. This helped a lot in making us feel safe as well.

First climb on Hawaii 5-0

Ingrid was looking so nervous and I was trying to put on a brave face for her but I was a bit worried about what we had let ourselves in for. What is she freaks out on the wall, there is no option but to jump into the water…. Ash want first  followed by Ingrid then me.

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Ingrid getting onto the wall Hawaii 5-0 for her first climb

1st climb was a 6a+ traverse,  long, slightly overhanging but with good hand  holds along the main flake and with some sketchy feet. The climbing was not too hard but the nerves of knowing we would have to jump into the water below was making us tense and tired. I managed half the traverse before I took the leap into the water. Only 4 m up but still felt like a really big jump and it took forever to get back up to the surface again.

Ingrid was next, I was more scared for her then for myself. She got the first couple of holds then started to look down at the water freaking out, I want to come down! a few minutes hesitation and then into the water she want. She looked really upset when she surfaced again and the same happen on the next climb again. On climb 3 we set a goal of reaching a land mark 1/3 along the traverse and she decided not to look down. Once out of the starting blocks she just kept going and going and almost finished the whole route.

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Happy about our climbs getting ready for the next ones

Epic 12m climb & jump off 3 Brothers Crag

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Ash, Lilo, Rob, Ingrid and me having a blast on the DWS boat

Next crag, 3 Brothers offered more of a range of climbs but with all routes vertical we had to jump from much higher heights to get back down again. We had all overcome our nerves by now and started enjoying climbing up. I was surprised to find that wet climbing shoes did not slip too much but Im glad I wasn’t using my own. Ingrid did 4 routes here ranging from 4c to 6a and did not hesitate climbing or jumping into the water. The last 2 climbs and jumps were over 12m high!!

I loved the feeling of climbing without gear and the thrill of falling into the deep blue water and Ingrid was having such a great time. The least enjoyable part was sitting on the little boat between climbs a bit cold with the constant engine noise and rocking.

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The beautiful spot where 3 Brothers Crag is

The last climb was epic as Ingrid and I climbed side by side and jumped into the water together from 12 up! After almost 4 hours of climbing we headed back to the junk boat and had an amazing lunch together with all the other climbers and kayakers.

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What a day! What a girl! Cant wait to climb some more!

Awesome climbing at Camp 5, Kuala Lumpur

Asia largest indoor AC climbing gym

I was soo excited to discover that Asia largest indoor climbing gym can be found in Kuala Lumpur! My fingers were itching just thinking about going there to try it out. As we had a day to kill in KL before flying out to Australia it seemed a perfect time to go and check it out.

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It all worked out beautifully as Camp 5 climbing is located in the worlds 4th largest shopping mall Utama 1 and we had a few things to get before hitting Oz that we could get at the same time. We decided that the boys would go shopping while the girls went climbing! Perfect plan if you ask me:-)

The sign up process at Camp 5 was simple, quick and cheap. We paid £10 for Ingrid and me to climb for the day and to have our details registered. That means that when we stop by KL on our way back to SE Asia we can come back for more. Yey!

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The bouldering walls are really varied and has a lot of routes on offer. We spent 1 hr working our way round the caves and the main walls. We also dedicated an hour to the top ropes and auto belays, of which there are 4. The walls here are higher than in the UK 14-20m. Also, one of the top rope walls is synthetic rock, which is great training for outdoor climbing.

For those loving lead, there is an amazing choice of walls with a great range of grades. The longest route is a 30m overhang which looks totally awesome!

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6 wks of no climbing and the last 10 days on the beach have unfortunately left my hands with baby soft skin and I was gutted to have to call it a day after just 2 hrs….We will be back soon though!

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Rock climbing in China

Best rock climbing China

Back in England in preparation for the trip, Ingrid and I set ourselves a challenge to climb rocks or walls in every country on our itinerary. In China, Yangshuo is the place to go, with the best and most developed rock climbing scene in all of China.  img_3412The other reason we wanted to go to Yangshuo was to get out into the Chinese countryside with less tourism a for a good rest and an opportunity to soak up the atmosphere of real China.

Yangshuo Loong Old House

Yangshuo Loong old house turned out to be the right place for this. Although we soon discovered the location is Yulong, next to the Yu long river and not Yangshuo as we had assumed simply from the name of the place. img_3118Yangshuo Loong old house is a traditional style house with a courtyard, a swing seat, balls, instruments, a self serve kitchenette, swim rings, fishing nets and best of all bikes. img_3102We got a tandem for me and Ingrid and bike with child seat for Scott.img_1781-1

The only problem with being out in rural China was the limited access to different places to eat and consequently the expensive menu at the guest house. Food at the guesthouse was ok but very expensive so we made due with pot noodle lunch, lots of fruit and daily bike trips to try out the other eateries close by.img_2038

Top 5 in Yangshuo

Yangshuo rocks!

A few days into our stay here , we went looking for a climbing centres in Yangshuo to talk to the guides and set up the climbing trips.  After hours of looking we were disappointed that we could not find the office or either of the 2 main climbing clubs that operate here! Eventually we found a small climbing wall called Rock Abode so we stayed here for a little boulder session and a cool drink before heading back to the guesthouse.img_1730

It turns out that the best way to arrange climbing is to email or call, Karst climbing or Black rock climbing. We went climbing with Alei and Ginger at Karst climbing in the end. Due to the hot afternoons we opted for 1/2 day sessions in the morning at 2 different crags, Swiss cheese and Twin gates. Once there we managed around 6 routes each day with grades ranging from 4-6b+.img_3342-1

Ingrid did all routes on top rope while I did mainly lead. Swiss cheese was amazing, full of friction and tiny pockets with routes up to 28 m.

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img_3340 At the bottom of the crag big bamboo trees offer belayers & climbers a cool, shady space to rest and keep your gear. Once at the top the view is truly stunning.

Our second day of climbing was our 1st day of rain in China. Alei had told me we would still climbed if it rained so I was hoping I would not be disappointed. Twin Gates crag has a quirky overhang at the very top that keeps it dry in almost any weather. img_3410 It has to giant caves at the bottom where you can keep your gear dry and hangout while the rain pours down. The rock here was more like traditional granite and quite polished in some areas. However, we enjoyed this crag more as it  was  much more technical and had  some really cool routes. img_3414

img_3415My favourite was “Blood” and Ingrid loved “Crocodiles head”.img_3423

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Climbing with a guide is quite expensive here, 800Y for a full day and 400 for 1/2 day  per person. The price includes, transport, gear, insurance and guides.  I would love to come back here with some buddies for weeks of pure climbing trying out some of the 50 odd crags on offer.

Pedal power

We love cycling back in England and found that it was the best way to experience and enjoy the landscape here. Roads are flat most of the time and traffic is generally accommodating to cyclists as it is a common mode of transport. img_2001We went everywhere on the bikes, up and down the Yulong river, visiting ancient bridges and local villages. img_1757We also cycles to Baisa, the nearest town for food and trips to the supermarket to get fruit and snacks.

Swim in the river

Swimming in the river was probably the kids favourite activity here. Paul and I did go in for a dip or 2 but the lack of locals swimmers made us a bit unsure how clean the water actually was. Our landlady assured us the water was safe and the kids didn’t mind so in we went. Despite a longwinded explanation and a map at our hotel we struggled to find the spot where you go in for swim, but when we eventually got there it was shallow and fresh, perfect way to end a hot and sticky day.img_1818

Electric Majong

Majoring is an ancient and still popular Chinese table game. We bought a set in Yangshuo with the intention of learning how to play and hopefully play with the locals while in China. Paul and Ingrid spent an afternoon working out how to play, then taught me and Scott. img_3258The best part of playing Majong here was the landlady inviting us to play a game on her electric majoring table. You put collected all the bricks in a pit. The table then arranged them and spat them up up the table in 4 neat rows. How can you not just love that!!

Time for tea

Ingrid and I got a lesson from the landlady in the art of making tea Chinese style. Not only did we both love making it but also drinking it, black!img_1695-1 This is how Ingrid and I developed our current evening ritual of writing our diaries over cups of black tea. Long may it continue:-)

Heads in the clouds – Family trek Poon hill, Nepal

Poon hill trek – a child friendly classic Nepal trek

Ghorepani Poon hill trek is one of the short trekking routes in the Annapurna region that can be done in 3-5 days. After some research we decided this would be the best route for us. It is long enough for Paul and me to enjoy, at 3210m, the altitude in not too high for the kids, and if done in 5 days we were hoping the daily treks would be short enough for Ingrid 8, to be able walk all they way.

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Ingrid feeling excited to start our 5 day trek in the Annapurnas

Over 5 days, this trail takes you through beautiful local villages and rhododendron forests with panoramic views of Nepal’s most famous peaks from Poon Hill – Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri and Annapurna South. The trail can be congested in high season October – February, but was almost empty when we were there in August, at the end of the monsoon season.

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Poon hill trek map

Its a 1hr drive from Pokhara to Nayapul, the starting point of the trek. From there you make a circuit over 5 days from Nayapul to Hille (near Tikhedunga), then Ghorepani and Poon Hill followed by Ghandruk and Landing before finally returning to Nayapul and Pokhara.

Basket case solved – gaffa tape saves the day!

In order for us all to enjoy this trek, the most important thing we had to consider was how to keep Scott happy and motivated to walk as much as possible. Scott is physically strong and usually happy to walk for about an hour or so most days. Unfortunately, just before starting the trek he was really ill for a week with a tummy bug and had to take 2 course of antibiotics to recover. Needless to say, we were a bit were worried about how he would cope in the hills after being so poorly.

In planning or trip to Nepal, we had already considered getting a porter to help Scott round the trail and with the recent tummy bug illness we decided at the trip could only be done with a porter that could help us carry Scott all the way round the trail.

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Our trekking team, Trunkie, Eddi. me, Ingrid, Paul, Scott and Dpak

We booked our team consisting of 1 guide and 2 sherpas, through Funnys travel in Kathmandu. 1 sherpa would carry our big backpack and 1 would carry Scott in a traditional Nepalese basket.

As we arrived in Nayapul, ready to head off it became clear that the typical basket we had agreed that Scott would be carried in did not exist. The guide and sherpas suggested they could carry Scott on their back and shoulders for 5 days, which was not what we had agreed nor would it be safe or comfortable. We watched in disbelief as the team set about constructing a make due carrier basket, which promptly broke.  Without a safe carrier construction for Scott we would have to go back to Pokhara and try again in a few days once it had been sorted out to our satisfaction……not ideal.

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Kids carrier Nepali style that did not work

Its amazing what you can do with a pocket knife and some gaffa tape.  Paul finally took charge, bought another basket and made a safe, comfortable and strong carrier with gaffa tape, some rope and a bit of insulation material ….finally 2 hrs later we were ready to go.    

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Solid child carrier construction made with a traditional Nepalese basket

Day 1 – Up, up and away

We started our first walk up from Nayapul to Ghorepan on a trail initially made up of an old gravel road. Eventually we were crossing streams, passing rice paddies and teahouses on lingering stony path that slowly took us up higher in the mountains into slightly cooler and more manageable temperatures.

It was not a difficult walk but the very hot and humid weather made it hard work still. Scotty was in the basket most of the time, snoozing while Ingrid walked every step with a smile on her face. She had been looking forward to this trek for a long time and was happy to finally be on our way.

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Sherpa carried Scott in a basket when he got tired

Finally after 5hrs walking, at Ingrid pace, we were pleasantly surprised to find our accommodation for the night. A large and clean teahouse with comfortable beds in twin rooms with delicious food on  offer.

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Lovely teahouse for our first nights stay

After a quick dinner and some games with our sherpas we called it a night getting to get some sleep in preparation for the early start and long trek the following day.

Day 2 – Stairway to heaven,  4080 steps to be exact

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Donkey trail passing by as we were having breakfast

After a good night sleep and and eggs and pancakes for breakfast we set off on 8hrs relentless climbing 4080 steps, 1300m elevation. to Ghorepani. Thankfully it was overcast most of the day and we all felt strong and excited to climbing up ever higher and higher in the mountains into the cooler air and the lingering clouds.

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Typical bridge crossing along the Poon hill trail
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Excited to be above the clouds after climbing 4000 giant steps to get there

After enjoying a typical vegetable Thali lunch and a couple of tea breaks along the way we finally arrived at our overnight stay in Ghorepani, 500m below the peak of Poon hill. A lovely warming wood burner at the centre of the common space in this teahouse made it a lovely and cosy place to hangout and a good spot to dry damp socks and shoes. We were all exhausted after the 8hr trek and had a very early night.

Day 3 – Above the clouds at the break of dawn

Ingrid and Paul had decided to climb to the Poon hill peak to catch the sun rise over the mighty Annapurnas.

They set off at 4 pm in the dark with puffer jackets and head torches while Scott got some more sleep and rest ahead of the days longish walk. The climb to the top in the dark took about an hour.

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Moment of glory at the top of Poon hill
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Vire of fishtail in the Annapurnas from the top of Poon hill

After watching the sure rise we all had a breakfast together, chocolate pancakes and eggs.  A quick rest and then we set off on a 7 hr walk up and down on winding trails through the clouds forest.

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Enter a captionScott having a sleep in the basket
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One of Scotts many walks during the 5 day trek

After a tea break and then lunch in a beautiful spot along the river we had to get raincoats and umbrellas out for the last hour walk to our over night stay number 3 at Ghandruk.

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Sleeping in the rain in the comfort of his basket

Wet leaves and vegetation meant leeches were out and about. There are lots of warnings about leeches on the trails in August in the guide books and on the internet. However, we found the leeches to be few and far between, very small and pretty harmless. Once we found them on us they were easy enough to flick off without causing much pain or discomfort. Scott was actually very excited to find one inside his trousers. Must have got there during a pee break.

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Tanipani teahouse, our least favourite

The over night stay in Tanipani, was our least favourite.  Dirty and smelly toilets in the teahouse and a pretty rough restaurant made us all a bit uneasy. We were too tired from walking to think too much about it and enjoyed clear views on the Annapurnas when we woke up the next day.

Day 4 & 5 all downhill from here

Our first clear view of the snowcapped Annapurna range at the breakfast table at Tanipani gave us the energy we needed to walk the days trek 5 hrs downhill. Trails were wet and slippery after a rainy night but Ingrid did great and Scott walked his longest distance so far despite a big leech bite on his leg. We enjoyed a slow lunch at a beautiful village of Thadipani on the way down.

Beautiful scenery and coours along the

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beautiful scenery and colours along the Poon hill trial
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Going down hill is also hard work

Our last days walk down to Nayapul was our least favourite. Part of the trail was along the main dirt road through some larger villages with a lot more people and even cars along part of the way. Typically this was the day with the best view of the mountains. What a great way to end  this amazing 5 day trek!

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One of many streams we had to cross
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Great view on the last day of our trek

Poon Hill  – a great trek for mountain lovers with kids

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Yey we did it and we enjoyed it too!

The Ghorepani Poon hill trek is not the most adventurous mountain experience if on your own, but with 2 young kids in tow is a great mix of hard walks on easy trails broken up by tea and lunch breaks along the way. The walk itself is interesting as it follows part of the old Trans-Himalayan Salt Trade Route.

Most of the the trail is made up stone slabs and staircases that head from village to village and some of the time you walk on simple trails and across small streams and through rain forest like foilage.

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We quickly slipped into a pleasant rhythm of eating, walking, eating, playing cards, drinking tea and sleeping.

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Tiebetan bread, one of the kids favourite breakfasts

We all loved the trek, Ingrid especially and have since also done long treks in China, Thailand and rock climbing in China, Thailand and Vietnam. As we continue down to South America we have our harts set on more fantastic treks.

Good to know about Poon hill trek

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Our last overnight stay on out 5 day trek
  • Poon Hill trek can easily be done without a guide just following a good map. Also, in high season there are lots of other trekkers on the trail that are all going the same way. If we had done this trail without the children, we would have done it alone. As this was our first big adventure in he mountains with the kids we felt safer having a guide with us.

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  • Packing is simple, since you don’t need to carry tents, sleeping bags, or food but can enjoy sleeping and eating in one of many lovely teahouses along the way. We packed 1 large backpack with a change of clothes, micro towels, silk liners, games and electronic essentials that the sherpa carried and a smaller day pack with water, snacks and raincoats, which we took turns carrying. We left our big bags at our hotel in Pokhara as we would return tenth same hotel after the trek.

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  • There are plenty of teahouses along the way of Poon Hill trek where you can stop for food and drinks and to stay over night. The overnight teahouses are like simple, clean guesthouses with basic beds and food on offer. Some of the smaller teahouses along the way just offering tea, coffee, drinks and snacks.
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Typical Nepali lunch vegetarian Thali
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Typical teahouse accommodation on offer when you do the Poon hill trek
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Enjoying a tea break along the Poon hill trail
  • August is the end of the monsoon season in Nepal. While on the trail we had rain most nights night and 2 days with half hour long showers. We also had leeches, and some cloudy days. However, if you want enjoy the quiet time in the mountains,  walk at your own pace and if a bit of rain down not bother you then end August is a good time to go.

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If you like walking in the mountains and want to introduce your children to this fantastic adventure then Nepal & Poon hill is the way to go!

Monkeys and Momos

Monkeys & Momos

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When I asked the kids what they liked most during our time in Kathmandu they both said momos and monkeys. The monkeys I expected, because nothing else has ever made Scott walk 12 km in 34 heat without complaining and I think it will be some time before it happens again. The kids love of Momos and how they embraced the local food was more unexpected, but it certainly helped keep our  energy levels high to fully enjoy our time in Nepal.

Our top 5 things to do with kids in Kathmandu:

Kathmandu in August is 30-35 degrees hot, humid, dusty, busy, noisy full of beeping cars, hustling people, temples and stray dogs. Its interesting and exhausting and at the same time. Thats is why we decided that 1 sight per day and 3 days of sightseeing was enough during our time in Kathmandu. Here is a summary of the things we enjoyed most in here.

  • The Monkey Temple

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The Monkey temple with a huge stupa lots of monkeys and a long staircase to climb.If you get here on foot like we did via the pilgrim walk from the Thamel area in Kathmandu you can avoid paying an entrance fee by simply taking the slightly hidden stairs on the far right. Once at the top you can enjoy the views, spin the prayer wheels, look around the sacred temple and get mesmerised by the monkeys.

  • Garden of Dreams

One of our favourite places was the Garden of Dreams. Its a bit pricy o get in, 60$, but its a nice space for some quality chilling out. This walled garden is like an oasis of peace and quiet in the otherwise overwhelming city of Kathmandu. Ingrid and Scott enjoyed having the freedom to  run around the many ponds here as the streets were to busy and dangerous for them to do so. There is a restaurant/cafe inside but its very pricy so its a good idea to bring snacks and drinks with you.

  • Astrek climbing wall

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We had looked up the local climbing wall up on google and were really looking forward to doing a bit of climbing. It was quite hard to find at first and the otherwise helpful locals and hotel staff had no idea where it was. After  a bit of wondering, we finally found a little courtyard with 2 bouldering walls, a 14m top/lead wall and a little cafe. A few hours of sweating here gave us all an energy boost and lifted our spirits the way climbing always does.

You pay 250$ to climb during the week 450$ on a Saturday . If you want a belay you simply pay 100$ for 5 climbs.

  • Momos and other Nepali food

One of my worries before setting off on this trip was how the kids would get on with all the new types of foods and flavours. We quickly found that the kids were very adaptable and happy to try most of the things Paul and I ate. Momos was by far everyones favourite in Kathmandu. When you order Momos you get a plate of 10 steamed or fried vegetable or chicken dumplings. We all preferred the fried chicken ones that tasted just like most fried dumplings do. Other great food that we all enjoyed were chips/french fries , chicken soup, fried chicken and Nepali set dish called Thali.(see image) A Thali is also really good to share as someone will always come and offer to refill all the little bowls with curry, chicken, soup etc.  At breakfast we all enjoyed pancakes and eggs in every shape an form as well as excellent coffee. The golden rule we quickly established is not to order western food as it rarely will live up to your expectations and to eat where and what the locals eat.

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  • Monks by Boudhanath

This famous stupa was a 30 min taxi ride from our hotel. The courtyard surrounding it is rammed with little stalls and restaurants, but dont let these distract you too much. Our favourite part was walking up to the Monastery from the back end of the courtyard and  meet to the young Monks that live there. You can also get a blessing & a golden scarf by a Monk at the top of one of the temples in return for a little deposit of 100$!

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