BD athlete Brittany Griffith reports on attending the first-ever trad climbing festival in China
In November, BD athlete Brittany Griffith, along with fellow BD team members Yuji Hirayama, Cedar Wright and Mike Dobie attended China’s first-ever trad climbing festival in Laojunshan National Park. Along with the quartet of BD athletes, a host of Black Diamond employees also attended, including CEO Peter Metcalf. The event was established by Black Diamond and The North Face, and was a huge success—due in no small part to the herculean efforts of Jack Lin and Kai Zao of Himalaya Gears (the BD distributor in China), as well as the dozens of volunteers. Below is the email Brittany sent us shortly after the event, along with a great video Kai sent us that showcases the culture and community that made China’s first-ever trad climbing event such a success.
From: Brittany Griffith
Subject: China trad climbing event
Date: December 1, 2012 11:24:04 AM
Just got back from China a few days ago and have almost shaken off the jetlag. The event at Laojunshan was awesome. It was a huge honor to be able to be a part of the first formal trad climbing event in China. Such an amazing setting and the people—climbers and locals—were so psyched! I had no idea there would be that many people there—at least 300 at the cliff each day and even more at night during the evening’s festivities (dancing and music shows performed by the locals as well as slideshows by Cedar, Mike and Yuji. Oh, and Metcalf was there! Dancing on stage and taking whippers at the crag—it was great to see such a busy guy still be so psyched for climbing.
Even though sport climbing is quite popular in China, trad climbing is still very much in its infancy in China, and most Chinese climbers at the event had never hand jammed before in their life. Crazy! There’s just not that much trad cragging opportunities in China right now, but that is changing—and this event was part of that change. The event was three days long and we spent each day at cliff, teaching our clinic groups the basics of trad climbing from how to place Camalots to crack technique.
The event's organizers recognized the benefits of hosting an event like this for a few reasons. First, they felt that there was a real need for trad instruction in China. Secondly, to demonstrate to the local park officials—who were initially not supportive of climbing because they didn't understand it and were concerned about the general safety of climbing in the park—that climbers are concerned about safety.
This event was not only good for the future of climbing and access in this beautiful park, but also got Chinese climbers stoked on trad climbing. I have been to many climbing events and taught countless clinics and I have to tell you that these climbers were the most stoked participants I have ever experienced! They were mad for it!!! And they were also some of the most appreciative participants I've been with. I made a lot of good friends and hope to go back next year.