CAT BA TOWN, Vietnam // It was a sad day because our rock climbing trip in Asia has come to a close. We climbed in Railay, Tonsai, Thakhek, and now Cat Ba Island, which was our final stop. There are not many more really great climbing destinations in the next countries we plan to visit, so this the end.
Before our trip started, the plan was to take all of our climbing gear with us, and then leave the rope in Vietnam. This is precisely what we did. The rope is 60 meters long, and weighs about 15 pounds. It takes up more space and weighs more than all of our other climbing gear combined. We sold it to one of the guides in town for a really low price. He gladly took it off our hands, and we were happy that someone can use it since it's still in pretty good condition.
We were a little skeptical of rock climbing in Cat Ba because the main climbing area of Butterfly Valley is well outside of town in the middle of nowhere. Instead of going right to the crag the first day, we did a deep water soloing trip with Asia Outdoors that was amazing. The routes are marked and labeled in the guidebook, so you know what you are climbing instead of blindly hanging onto the rocks. We met a few other travelers, and it was a great chance to see Lan Ha Bay as well. For the next day, the people who worked there pointed us in the right direction of a reputable motorbike dealer, aka Mr. Khan. For 4 to 6 dollars you could rent a motorbike for the day. No drivers license, passport, or credit card was needed.
We took all of our climbing gear, loaded it up to the motorbike, and drove to Butterfly valley, which was a spectacular ride through rolling hills and valleys. It took about 20 minutes to get there like we thought, but the walk was pretty easy from where we parked the bike. There were water buffaloes and ladies farming, but the crag was right there. It rained both mornings which delayed our climbing until the afternoon, but we did 2 routes the first day, then 2 routes on the second. They were all really long single pitch sport climbs 24 to 29 meters, which used up the entire rope, so they took a little longer to complete.
- Bread and Butter, 24 meters, 9 bolts, 5c // 5.9
- Rome to Hanoi Express, 24 meters, 9 bolts, 6a // 5.10a
- Mother Butterfly, 29 meters, 13 bolts, 6a+ // 5.10a
- Argentina's Delight, 29 meters, 13 bolts, 6b // 5.10b
This place lived up to it's name and there were Butterflies everywhere. It if wasn't for climbing we would have never made it out to this area. Although our rock climbing adventures are over, it's time to switch gears on activities. We have not had the chance to scuba dive or surf yet, so we plan on focusing our attention there. We head next to Hoi An, based on recommendations from other travelers. From here we will spend our last few days in "Indochina" before heading south to Indonesia.