Sunday, September 21, 2008

YanShou Crazy

Well since my last posted I've had an interesting two weeks. Here are some highlights

* Our first school group arrived after training and I was assigned to work Tyrolean. This is basically a zip line or fly fox with a rappel/abseil in at the end. To do this we usually have 4-5 guides, one sends, one receives, one back up rappels by attaching a top rope, one lead guide who sets the kids on rappel and talks them off the cliff and one doing the fireman back-up on the bottom. I was assigned to receive the kids. They were all given the safety briefing by the send-off guide and the first kid was ready to go. Everyone was cheering and clapping and off goes the kid. He's screaming! We are screaming! Then I realize he's screaming in fear and really freaked out! The zip line doesn't have enough height difference for you to make it all the way to the end without pulling yourself over hand over hand (really easy...). The kid is stopped halfway through the line and doesn't want to move and is really freaked out. I'm like "What do I do?", this never happened in training. Finally one of the lead guides yells "Hey, get your friend Jay to pull you over!" At this point I realized I have a line attached to his zip line device for retrievals! I start hauling and getting him calmed down, he was pretty cool when I got him over. In fact after everyone had gone, he went again and had no problem. After this kid I had my hand on that retrieval line for every kid and hauling in rope and giving them a little slack to make sure I wasn't pulling them. Was a bit freaked myself as it was technically my first hour on the job.

* I went Trad climbing here one day. Not recommended, more like adventure climbing with dirty rock, no rap anchors and questionable gear. Supposed there are some semi-decent places around here but I haven't seen it yet.

* We had a Bathroom Party here at ChinaClimb. This is basically we turn the whole bar into a bathroom. Everyone comes in their bathroom gear, which in this case meant swimwear covered by towels. We sprayed water and beer all over the place. We were dumping water out with 5 gallon buckets. We were hosing people from the bar and people were just dumping beer on each other. When I showed up I went upstairs and left my shoes there and went down to the party. After a while we gathered good tourist attraction in front of the bar forming a semi circle. At this point a few of us ran out and randomly grabbed someone and pulled them into the action. Later in the night we started throwing water out the door too. Real crazy. I ended up tending the bar that night to help out with the crazy business. Towards the end of the night 2amish, I went up looking for my shoes and found them missing; someone had worn my shoes home and there was broken glass ALL over the bar. We shut the bar down around 3amish and I walked home barefoot only to find my shoes in our dorm room, one of the staff/roommates had worn my shoes home!

* The next day I had agreed to help one of the main guides setup the Tyrolean to help train some new people who showed up late. I get up at 8ish still groggily and slightly hungover. I dress and walk over to work, finding it surprisingly cleaned up... There I find out there were three customers who had signed up for Day Guiding and were waiting for a guide. The person who signed them up wrote Friday the 20th. Friday is the 19th, 20th is Saturday. So the main guides assumed it was the 20th and no one was assigned to guide that day. So 9am after a night of crazy partying, no one was up. After some discussion I was assigned to guide the three along with another staff who really doesn't guide but used to guide a little. Now, up to this point I've followed a main guide who's done this many times and knows everything down to the T. Here was I was about to be the lead guide a day after a crazy party, and still groggy... crazy! So the three clients knew of our party, they were sitting nearby watching the craziness and even told me they hoped their guide wasn't too hungover. I tried to be diplomatic, and that I would be awake in a few and all would be cool. Then I find out that one of them used to run a ropes course and has climbed in the Gunks before with REAL guides. If they were newbies I could BS my way through a lot of shit, but the fact that at least one knew what she was doing meant I had to be careful in what I BSed... In the end everything went off without a hitch, a slightly later than usual start but everything went as planned. We went swimming afterward and they even tipped, which for those who don't understand Chinese customs, NEVER happens in China. You are not required to do so, this was the first of 3 groups I've guided that have tipped.

* One of the crew, slightly new to climbing had been bought up to speed really quickly. He led his first 5.10a and was set to clean the route. He calls 'safe', I call up 'Belay Off' and give him some slack. I watch him, people come up, I chat, I watch him, I chat. Next thing I know I'm yanked off the ground and him screaming 'Wow!'. Turns out he had released himself from his personal anchors and back onto the rope without calling 'Take'. Lucky for him, when I said 'Belay Off', I really didn't take him off belay, I just gave him a lot of slack but kept my hands on the rope, so when he sat back down on the rope he didn't fall far... lucky him. I think he's learned the lesson of weighting the rope before he takes himself off the anchors.

* Climbing here has be just awesome. Easy to get to, quality routes and tons of stuff. Been hitting it hard at 11d or so, aim to hit the 12s in a few weeks.

* Three of the crew set up an Urban Adventure race. This involved swimming, climbing, leading the blind through a park, making a PBJ, bouldering, running, biking, tubing, drinking beer, riddle solving and taking pictures. The rules stated that 'Sabotage was encouraged.' We were divided into 4 teams of 4, Blue, Red, Black and Yellow (my team). To start the race off I decide to disassemble of the bikes from the competitor team. This didn't get very far as we didn't start until 15 minutes after I did this. We biked to a nearby bridge where we each swam a leg of a 4 person relay. At this point out egg was stolen; each team was given an egg to protect for the day, by the judges as we later found out. Then we biked to the climbing place. At this point the sabotage has begun full on, I stole a few seats, a few tire were deflated, etc... From climbing it was to a park where 2 members were blind folded and the two others were to lead them through the park with only their voices. We finished the course as the Black team caught up to us. One of their members left her bag un-attended so her egg was stolen. When they found out about this I was targeted and wrestled to the ground. At some point someone yanked my dry bag off of me and smashed it against the ground breaking 2 water bottles in the bag with two cell phones, both soaked. One cellphone survived and is working. The other, mine is dead, a brand new Motorola V3.... Going to see if I can get it fixed cheaply. The race continued with little incident... In the end we (Yellow) won the race. During this race we were also given a sheet for picture taking, points were given for taking a picture with a hunchback women, with 5 random people, 10 random people, 20 random people, mooning a bus, everyone's left butt cheek, climbing a tree, etc... We did manage to do most of them. Over all great day.

* I had Tyrolean duty again for the school group in this week. Pretty much went well until the last kid. He completely freaked out. Took him 30 minutes to walk 4 steps to the edge, had to back out and let the teacher go first, then after the teacher went, another 30 minutes for him to take the remaining 3 steps. I had to patiently talk him off the cliff, everyone was so bored watching us... He even cried a few times during this 'ordeal'. He was Korean and from what I've heard from the old guides they are the worse; their parents are very over protective. One kid was allergic to heat, dust, dirt and cold. WTH?? That is saying a lot from a group of kids who have led very sheltered lives. A normal steep hike for most of us was grueling for the kids. They show up with Canon/Nikon SLR cameras worth more then $1000 USD. They all have cellphones, iPods and PSPs. I heard some of them saying their monthly allowance was in the 2000Yuan range (about $300USD). I got $5 every time I mowed the lawn!

* My lens is at the manufacturer getting fixed. It had spent a week in postal limbo because the shop I had purchased it from was closed. Looking forward to getting it back soon! Pictures will be taken and posted then!

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Been in training for China Climb ( for a week and it's been blast. The place has it's own cook who cooks breakfast and dinner Monday to Saturday. Really good authentic Chinese food. They have free beer, orange juice and Sprite upstairs (surprisingly the OJ and Sprite runs out before the beer). Monday was a biking and water rescue course. We rode tandem bikes, which was a first for me, didn't help my confidence that 10 minutes into the ride one of the staff's bike broke in half. Tuesday was first aid in the morning and caving and kayaking in the afternoon. Wednesday was Tyrolean, learned to set it up and then Orienteering in the afternoon. Really funny part of Orienteering was I paired myself with a local who lived in the area we were Orienteering. He just looked at the map and the marked flags and didn't consult the map again. We found some of the most random trails to get all the flags; the only group to do so. Thursday was a bike ride in the morning in the mud and rain and afternoon climbing. We got so muddy my underwear looks like I shit in it. Really fun! Friday was a hiking and camping trip, a day hike out and camping in the meadows. We had a surprise exercise on Wilderness First Aid on the way in. One guide broke his neck and back, one his arm and the other his knee. We managed to stabilize them after much confusion. The vista here is just awesome! Hiking through the valleys just awesome; through the rice paddies and among the rounded limestone cliffs. Just Google Guilin and/or YangShuo for pictures. I'm dying to get my lens fixed so I can take pictures of this place!

Anyway, mostly caught up on my photos, so go check them out!