Cat Ba Day 2

Go back to Cat Ba Day 1.

Go back to Vietnam.

The Black Slab

The Black Slab.

Next day we headed for the main dish of the trip: a route on Big Ben Tower, an imposing formation that overhangs on one side. No junk boat this time but an hour long ride in Chu Bien’s little basket boat (our shuttle from the previous day) through some heavy chop instead. Pretty exciting. As the water was pretty rough, we were not able to belay from the boat but instead had to jump onto & scramble up into a small stance on the tower to get things going. We did a combination of Clockworks to Westminster routes totaling 4 mostly short pitches and clocking in at about 5c or 6a (multiple variations exist). This tower was also the reason we would haul 2 sets of very large cams through Vietnam for two weeks. This was motivated by inaccurate beta; you don’t need anything larger than a #4 (if that). Got our first taste of the very sharp limestone on this one but the summit with its 360 degree pano of Hanla Bay was fantastic. Pain in the ass rap down an overhanging face requiring some acrobatics & on-the-fly inventiveness.After lunch, which included a few shots of happy water (notes of corrugated iron and a slight diesel finish), we headed out to the Black Slab formation and its only route called Ross’s Closed Project (2 pitches, 5a). This one is exposed to the open sea and so the water was very rough. We doubted that our driver Chu Bien would be able to deposit us onto the slab. He proved us wrong – with a bit of acrobatics and a lot of good timing, we were both able to jump onto a small stance at the base of the slab without capsizing the little boat. Quick 2 pitches – easy but very aesthetic – and we were rapping back down into the boat. Again, some good timing and driving skills on the part of Chu Bien ensured that we were sleeping back in our hotel room that night and not on the tower.

Photos

Ha Long Bay

Shirley and Andrew looking for Chu Bien’s boat in the morning (Nov. 2018).

 

Ha Long Bay

There he is (Nov. 2018).

 

Ha Long Bay

Departing the port (Nov. 2018).

 

Ha Long Bay

A basket boat piloted by Chu Bien’s son I think (Nov. 2018).

 

Chu Bien Tower

Chu Bien Tower…we’ll be back in a day or two (Nov. 2018).

 

Big Ben Tower

Approaching Big Ben Tower after a pretty nauseating ride (heavy chop) in Chu Bien’s basket boat (Nov. 2018).

 

Big Ben Tower

Big Ben Tower. Clockworks to Westminster climbs the large, somewhat brushy dihedral system just right of the light colored, overhanging face on the left. OK climbing but stellar tower and position (Nov. 2018).

 

Clockworks

Shirley scrambling up to our stance on Big Ben Tower while Chu Bien is trying to keep his boat from smashing into Big Ben (Nov. 2018).

 

Clockworks

The Ha Long Bay limestone bites back. Learned to be a bit more careful after that (Nov. 2018).

 

Clockworks

Our ride, safely away form the limestone (Nov. 2018).

 

Clockworks

Leading the first pitch proper of Clockworks belayed by Shirley and photographed by Andrew (Nov. 2018).

 

Clockworks

Chu Bien and Andrew on the basket boat (Nov. 2018).

 

Clockworks

Shirley on pitch 1 of Clockworks. Photo by Andrew (Nov. 2018).

 

Clockworks

Arriving at the first belay on Clockworks (Nov. 2018).

 

Clockworks

Short but bushwhacky pitch 2 of Clockworks (Nov. 2018).

 

Clockworks

Starting up pitch 3 of Clockworks. This is an easier variation which was recommended to us. The other variant is a crack on the left which looked good except for the razor sharp texture of the rock (Nov. 2018).

 

Clockworks

Leading pitch 3 of Clockworks belayed by Shirley. Photo by Andrew (Nov. 2018).

 

Clockworks

Shirley starting pitch 3 (Nov. 2018).

 

Clockworks

Shirley on pitch 3 of Clockworks belayed by yours truly. Photo by Andrew (Nov. 2018).

 

Big Ben Tower

Views from high on Big Ben Tower (Nov. 2018).

 

Clockworks

Shirley topping out on pitch 3 of Clockworks. Photo by Andrew (Nov. 2018).

 

Clockworks

Shirley topping out on pitch 3 of Clockworks (Nov. 2018).

 

Westminster

Starting up Westminster. We joined this route on our pitch 4 (Nov. 2018).

 

Clockworks

Looking back on our ride (Nov. 2018).

 

Westminster

Higher on the summit pitch (Nov. 2018).

 

Westminster

Looking back at Shirley from the lead of Westminster’s final pitch (Nov. 2018).

 

Big Ben Tower

A slice of Ha Long Bay from the summit of Big Ben Tower (Nov. 2018).

 

Westminster

Sharp as fuck (Nov. 2018).

 

Westminster

Shirley topping out on Big Ben (Nov. 2018).

 

Big Ben Tower

Shirley on the summit of Big Ben Tower (Nov. 2018).

 

Big Ben Tower

Extending the rap anchor on the summit (Nov. 2018).

 

Big Ben Tower

Slinging some shit for the traversy, overhanging first rappel off the summit of Big Ben Tower (Nov. 2018).

 

Big Ben Tower

Shirley on the first, pain in the ass rap off the summit of Big Ben Tower. Photo by Andrew (Nov. 2018).

 

Ha Long Bay

Big Ben Tower (Nov. 2018).

 

Ha Long Bay

Big Ben Tower and a small floating settlement (Nov. 2018).

 

Ha Long Bay

Another floating settlement (Nov. 2018).

 

Ha Long Bay

A concrete boat (Nov. 2018).

 

Ha Long Bay

Shirley overwhelmed by the quantity of food being served for lunch on the junk boat (Nov. 2018).

 

Ha Long Bay

Chilling on our private junk boat (Nov. 2018).

 

Ha Long Bay

Teamwork while pulling up the anchor (Nov. 2018).

 

Ha Long Bay

Typical day in Ha Long Bay: climb some in the morning, overeat for lunch, chill and let the food stick to the ribs while the boat moves to the area of afternoon climbing (Nov. 2018).

 

Ha Long Bay

Chu Bien’s boat in tow (Nov. 2018).

 

The Black Slab

The Black Slab formation. Ross’s Closed Project route climbs the face on the right visible in profile (Nov. 2018).

 

The Black Slab

Complicated landing on The Black Slab in some heavy chop (Nov. 2018).

 

Black Slab

Established at the base of the Black Slab formation. Photo by Andrew (Nov. 2018).

 

The Black Slab

Starting up Ross’ Closed Project route on The Black Slab (Nov. 2018).

 

The Black Slab

Starting up pitch 1 belayed by Shirley.  Photo by Andrew (Nov. 2018).

 

The Black Slab

Leading pitch 1 belayed by Shirley. Photo by Andrew (Nov. 2018).

 

The Black Slab

View from the first belay inside the chimney (Nov. 2018).

 

The Black Slab

Shirley on pitch 1. Photo by Andrew (Nov. 2018).

 

The Black Slab

Shirley on pitch 1 with Andrew and Chu Bien chilling on the boat (Nov. 2018).

 

The Black Slab

Nearing the first belay. Photo by Andrew (Nov. 2018).

 

The Black Slab

Shirley arriving at the first belay (Nov. 2018).

 

The Black Slab

Starting the lead of pitch 2 of Ross’s Closed Project. Photo by Andrew (Nov. 2018).

 

The Black Slab

A close-up of the start of pitch 2. Photo by Andrew (Nov. 2018).

 

The Black Slab

Easy but aesthetic crack climbing on this one (Nov. 2018).

 

The Black Slab

Looking back from the lead of pitch 2 (Nov. 2018).

 

The Black Slab

A beautiful face. Photo by Andrew (Nov. 2018).

 

The Black Slab

Summit views (Nov. 2018).

 

The Black Slab

Shirley starting up pitch 2 (Nov. 2018).

 

The Black Slab

Views from the summit (Nov. 2018).

 

The Black Slab

Shirley on the enjoyable pitch 2 (Nov. 2018).

 

The Black Slab

Nearing the summit of The Black Slab. Photo by Andrew (Nov. 2018).

 

The Black Slab

Shirley topping out on the route (Nov. 2018).

 

The Black Slab

Setting up the rappel on the summit of The Black Slab. Photo by Andrew (Nov. 2018).

 

The Black Slab

Shirley starting the descent (Nov. 2018).

 

The Black Slab

And dealing with the double rope clusterfuck (Nov. 2018).

 

Ha Long Bay

Mr. Chu Bien, our boat driver, chilling out (Nov. 2018).

 

Ha Long Bay

Oh yeah!

 

Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay traffic (Nov. 2018).

 

Ha Long Bay

Hiking back to the beer after another successful day in Ha Long Bay (Nov. 2018).

Go to Cat Ba Day 3.

Go back to Vietnam.