In October 2017, Asia Outdoors(one of the main Vietnam climbing providers ), based in Cat Ba Town in Ha Long bay, needed a rock climbing instructor to provide deep water solo staff training and assessments for their whole team and I took on the task. So that I could provide them with professional training on both how to manage rock climbers on the cliffs safely and how to coach their customers to enable them to use their skills anywhere in the world, I ran 3 courses with just 3 to 9 people on each course.
After a 13 hour flight from the UK, I arrived in Hanoi where I was collected and driven up to Mai Cho about 3 hours further north. Asia Outdoors has set up a new crag for beginners and has found an amazing crag with no bolts in it. I guess the grades would be from 6a to 8a. Just as I was leaving they were heading back there with new bolts and with all their drills charged to the max! I can’t wait to see some photos of all the new lines. I met up with Rich Fergus who now runs Asia Outdoors who showed me the new crag and I enjoyed a quick play.
We were soon back on the road and headed back south toward Ha Long Bay to meet the rest of the team and get the training courses under way. To my surprise I found that my hotel was right next to a crag called Ben Beo which has about 10 routes on it. If I was feeling fit I would do a few routes before heading off to work (#living the dream). To ensure the quality of the courses was top notch, Rich Fergus, my beautiful assistant, and I ran the 3 courses at an inland crag called butterfly valley (Lien Minh).The crag itself is nestled in a valley about 30 mins drive from the main town. The crag is limestone and is about 40 m high with about 75 routes from 5s to 8a+.
So, less about the work and more about the climbing! Over the 3 weeks I had 5 days off to go and enjoy the climbing sites of Cat Ba and the surrounding Islands. I spent a day climbing the best routes in the valley. I headed out for a few days of deeping/ dws. That’s deep water soloing, which is climbing above water without any rope. If you fall off you get wet, but in warm water, not like in the UK!
You climb the karst, which are limestone towers anything from 50m to 320m high and the water is no deeper than 10 m throughout the bay. The best cliff to warm up on is three Brothers and then head to Hawaii 5-0. Both are close to Cat Ba town. If you fancy a longer boat ride then head north to Pyramid Cave and Unemployment wall.
The best way to explore is to get Team Asia outdoors to arrange for a guide and boat with driver. Their drivers are great and have a good understanding of managing the boat in relation to climbers. Some of the other local boat drivers don’t have that important knowledge and experience and it shows!
Over all I can highly recommend Ha long Bay and Cat Ba as a climbing venue as part of a 2 week climbing trip. Team Asia Outdoors are the guys you need to make all the arrangements.