In between throwing himself off cliffs in a wingsuit in preparation for The Asgard Project, Leo Houlding found time to visit China and with fellow Berghaus climbers Carlos Suarez and Wang Zhi Ming climbed a new rock route up the sacred mountain of Mount Huashan in the Qinling Mountain Range of Shaanxi Province, Northwest China.
Huashan is one of China's Five Sacred Daoist Mountains and has had temples at its base since the second century BCE. It is a popular pilgrimage to climb one of its five main peaks and an area of retreat for those in search of 'the way'. There is a airy plank walk-way up one face and a cable car up another. Climbing a rock route on the mountains west face required special permission from the Chinese government.
Leo, Carlos and Wang Zhi Ming pioneered a 600m route up the west face that was 'less classic rock climbing and more vertical tree wrestling' due to the extremely overgrown nature of the cliff but done in good style as Leo explains, ".....with just 2 ropes, no drill, bolts, or even pegs or a hammer. Balls to the wall, death or glory.".
Leo continues: “It was a much harder climb than we anticipated, but even in the most severe and dangerous times we all kept smiling and enjoyed the adventure. Motivation is the key to success and it was a pleasure to climb with such positive guys as Carlos and Wang. It was pretty f*cking epic and hard - HXS probably E6 but so over grown so hard to grade.
It has been one of the best climbing experiences I've ever had."
The team received multiple flesh wounds on the ascent.
Leo has named the route, Northern Celestial Masters after a Daoist movement founded in the area by Daoist master Kou Qianzhi.
The teams ascent was a big deal for the locals too.
"A celebratory banquet was organized in our honor when we got down. There were about 50 people, journalists, communist party dignitaries, and a host of others present." Banners were strung across the streets celebrating the teams return.
You can read Leo's blog of this eventful ascent at www.berghaus.com
In other Berghaus sponsored athlete/ambassadors news, Sir Chris Bonington has just had a climbing trip to the Lofoten, Norway and is now off to China, you can read his despatches and blog at www.berghaus.com.
Last September Berghaus announced plans to open 200 stores across China in partnership with Symphony Resources Ltd. Read the press release at www.berghaus.com.
Richard Cotter, Berghaus brand president, comments:
“As Berghaus continues its development into one of the world's top five outdoor brands, Asia will be a key territory. We have already made great progress in Japan and South Korea and have also created Berghaus Asia, a self-sufficient division based in Hong Kong that is an invaluable resource to support our Far East activities. Over the next few months, we will be working with the team at Symphony Resources to build their understanding of our brand and plan for a successful first season in the Chinese market. Suffice it to say, everyone at Berghaus is very excited about the huge opportunity that this deal presents.”