Tucked away in the beautiful mountains west of Lijiang, Shigu has quickly developed into the premier sport climbing destination in Yunnan. The quality of rock here, beautiful scenery, and lack of crowds or chaos make for one incredible climbing experience. The nature of the limestone varies by crag, but generally the climbs are long, the rock is sticky and unpolished, and the bolting is very friendly. If you like the climbing in Yangshuo but don’t like the hectic touristy scene there, come to Shigu!
The climbing here is mostly single-pitch sport with a preponderance of climbs in the 5.10-5.12 range. It is recommended to bring a 70-meter rope and 14 or so draws to access some of the long, classic lines like those at the Diamond. There are a few multi-pitch lines that are worth getting on, and the potential for additional multi-pitch development is incredible. It’s hard not to stare at the soaring cliffs across from the Rainbow Wall and imagine all of the wild climbs that could meander up these faces.
The crags are all scattered along the road that goes up the valley, and it’s possible to walk to any of them, though it’ll take about 40 minutes to walk the full length of the road to the Diamond. Other options include chartering a ride from one of the locals for a few dollars, or renting bikes from the Stone Drum, which makes the end of the day an exciting downhill cruise.
A stick clip may be helpful at some of the crags, particularly the Cave area, but once on the wall the bolts are safely spaced so this is a good place to push your limits. Plus, the grades are maybe a letter soft here (think Tonsai level), especially if your endurance is good.
There is a lot of other useful information on the Stone Drum website, so check it out.
- Everything on the Diamond Wall
- Everything on the Rainbow Wall
The best months are November-March or so, when the nights are cold but the days are crisp and dry. The rain season (May through August) is pretty wet, but still climbable on many days if you hide underneath the overhangs at the Cave or parts of the Diamond.
There are some good and cheap lodging options right in the valley. The Stone Drum House, located in the Village of DaMaiDi at the bottom of the valley, is highly recommended for the great food, nice setup, and super friendly owners. They even have good beer. There are also a couple other places in the valley to stay, including the Shigu Climber’s base camp, which is further up the road from the Stone Drum.
Any of the guest houses should provide boiled or filtered water.
All of the guest houses offer good Chinese-style food, which is nice because your options are pretty limited when staying in the valley. The town of Shigu is a 30 minute bike ride or 10 minute drive from the valley, and has many restaurants and an interesting market on certain weekdays.
All of the guesthouses in the valley will have showers, and there’s really no other options.
The area around the valley is full of incredible scenery, and riding a bike around is the best way to take it all in. You can rent bikes at the Stone Drum.
The market in Shigu town is worth a visit, and the views of the Lijiang river at the town park are incredible:
By Tyler Wellman
PS: As of 2019, 40 minutes away sits a giant 500 meter multipitch playground. The premier route up it is Allegory of the Caves 5.11, 17 pitches. Check out a trip report here.