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Laojun Mountain: Rock Climbing in Splendid Seclusion

Although northwest Yunnan is famous for the towns of Dali, Lijiang and Shangri-la, huge swathes of the mountainous terrain outside the normal tourist haunts remain little-visited. Looking for some respite, Yunnan: The China You Never Knew host Jordan Porter headed into one of the province’s most varied, remarkable and sparsely visited places, Laojunshan National Park.

Yunnan’s state-protected natural places vary considerably from those overseas in the sense that indigenous groups native to the land continue to live and work inside the parks. And while tourists certainly do go to Laojunshan, most keep along the protective boardwalks leading to scenic overlooks. This means that for those interested in serious backcountry hiking, camping and other outdoor activities, the park is a godsend.

During his travels in the region, Jordan traverses some of the extraordinary sandstone formations, meets with a local elder from the Lisu ethnic group and goes rock climbing for the first time in his life. The show’s title, Laojun Mountain: Rock Climbing in Splendid Seclusion, is a nod to the unbelievable traditional and sport climbing options in the region, but also to the fact that the forests, trails and meadows of the park often feel devoid of people.

One couple who found the allure of living close to the park are Reuben Greenbank and Zhang Ling. The couple not only teaches Jordan how to rock climb, but also graciously prepare dinner for him at their guesthouse — called Stone Drum House — when the climbing is done. They’re a wonderful couple living in a wonderful place.

See the entire episode of Laojun Mountain: Rock Climbing in Splendid Seclusion on YouTube!

Destination China, where you can also catch the seven other episodes of our travel show Yunnan: The China You Never Knew.

The first of these centers on the provincial capital, Kunming, while the second through seventh find Jordan in the charming old towns of Weishan, Donglianhua, Dali, Heshun and then amongst the volcanic splendor of Tengchong. Just before heading to Laojun Mountain, Jordan stopped to explore the history surrounding the bucolic Yunnan town of Shaxi. Enjoy!

See the entire episode of Laojun Mountain: Rock Climbing in Splendid Seclusion on YouTube!

Rock climbing across Yunnan, and southern China

While our travel show focuses on the climbing spots available near Laojunshan National Park — notable Liming and Shigu — the options in Kunming and Yunnan specifically, and southern China in general, are enormous. Over the years, and with the help of a hardcore and indefatigable group of climbers based in the Spring City, GoKunming has done our best to publish articles on some of the more fantastic places you can strap on a harness, cram into a pair of tiny shoes and hit the rock.

Liming in Yunnan’s Lijiang Prefecture is one of the best climbing spots in all of China, and the scene there is still only in its infancy. Further toward the county’s center, Guoliang, in Henan province has some absolutely huge and stunning options as well.

And, if you can avoid the rain, humble Guizhou contains endless variations. For those fearless few, the province abounds with truly gargantuan sinkholes and highlining alternatives where you can stroll along a four-centimeter wide slackline over a roaring river 300 meters below. Have fun!

See the entire episode of Laojun Mountain: Rock Climbing in Splendid Seclusion on YouTube!

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