After a few weeks of acclimatizing to steep limestone in Yangshuo, we left our creature comforts and headed to the remote Getu Valley, in Guizhou province, site of the 2011 Petzl Roc Trip.
The train-and-bus network in China is impressive to say the least (America, get on it!) You can actually sleep on both trains and buses (though trains are more comfy, especially for the tall and the car-sick inclined) and the prices are reasonable.
All tucked in for the night in the ‘hard sleeper cabin’ of the overnight train
After more than 24 hours of travel we finally arrived in Getu. Traveling into an area less traversed by foreigners, we were greeted with great curiosity. We held babies for photos, were handed drinks by groups of teenagers, and were constantly photographed from afar and UP CLOSE. If you want to know what it’s like to be a celebrity, go visit rural China!
On route, moments before curious locals swarmed our gang
In terms of development, Getu Valley is light-years away from the bustling metropolis of Yangshuo, sporting 24 hour-crowing chickens (unfortunately not Kentucky-fried), cows blocking the road, and pig and dog slaughters behind guesthouses. It’s the first experience we’ve had where someone ordered chicken for dinner, and two minutes later, the cook carted a live chicken through the dining room and to its death!
Somehow this sleepy village (and a very dedicated Petzl team) managed to host 500+ climbers for the four day climbing festival. The park became a campground and every kitchen, a restaurant. The local government declared a school holiday and converted the dorms into a makeshift climber lodge. Unfortunately, similar conversions were not possible for more showers and toilets!
We happened to arrive in the midst of a rice harvest, where for the first time in a while, Steve enjoyed an honest minute’s work
Rice fields in harvest
A common sight: chillies out drying in the sun / Unbelievably tasty walnuts that appeared one day, sadly to disappear the next
The area’s main climbing feature is The Arch, approachable via a hand-poled ferry and 1500 steps!
A Petzl photographer spent most days hanging out in the center of the arch
Gabriel, Jon, and Ethan share the walk home with the cows coming back from grazing
On a rest day, we rowed a tiny inflatable boat inside the lower arch
Just moments before popping a giant hole in the outer tube of our boat
Luckily, Steve managed to paddle us to shore in the crippled boat
The main arch we climbed is just the start of caves and arches in the area. On another rest day, we hiked to a minority village situated inside a cave.
I was quite smitten with this little boy, who stood peacefully like this for nearly the entire time we roamed around the village
Playing basketball on the court inside the village
A friendly local lady posed for pictures at the arch river crossing
The Roc Trip ended with a massive dance party and hundreds of local teenagers from the surrounding villages coming to enjoy the spectacle
Said works the tables as climbers storm the stage
Mr. Social, Cody, enjoying the big party
Lynne and Mumin on stage and enjoying the party even more!
Sean showing the communists how to have a good time
Literally dancing with the stars: Chris and Daila take a turn on the stage
By the end of the Roc Trip, bottles were everywhere
Sasha getting her text on the next morning
Sean works the red carpet for Mayan
The town happened to throw their own massive party after the Roc Trip ended (to celebrate the end of the harvest)
Of course it didn’t take long for the climbers to join the action
The village mayor made sure everyone had plenty of baijiu
A rather unnerving fire show
Local women performed a traditional minority dance
Chinese chess, played outside a store in the village
Head-Petzl organizer Erwan on his handy bike
Wiz playing with his food as per usual
Sean showing off what he can do with his new crotchless big-wall pants
We didn’t take many climbing photos given the number of photographers about, but since it was all about “climbing”, here’s a shot of Sasha at the Arch
We’re certain that this area will soon boast some cozy guest houses geared towards westerners, but in the meantime, it’s a village experience and you may want to prepare accordingly. BYO: fruit, chocolate, coffee, and snacks. And it will help to know a few basic Chinese food words or have a dictionary so you can order more than eggs and rice!