Yes, I giggled too the first time I heard the name of the popular outdoor climbing spot here in Taiwan. Long Dong translates to Dragon Cave in Chinese. Long Dong Bay, just outside of Keelung, does look like somewhere that a dragon could call home.
The bay is popular for climbers and divers alike, we even saw some BMX bikers! I’ve heard people say (ignorant ex-pats), that Taiwanese are not an adventurous people, those people, obviously haven’t really seen Taiwan.
We climbed Saturday and Sunday, and lucked out with the weather on both of them. No rain, not too much sun, and the air was cool enough that climbing was comfortable.
There are many different climbing sections, ranging from very beginner to expert. It is all natural rock that at some point someone fixed bolts to, so that anyone could climb. There is a whole guidebook, in English and Chinese dedicated just to climbing at Long Dong, that gives the name, level and describes each route,
Getting there is just the warm up.
On Saturday we climbed Long Lane. Long Lane is an alley with lines on both sides, that opens up to another wall of lines.
We had our two best climbers lead.
and took turns to top rope and belay for the rest of the day. We set up three lines, I am happy to say I top roped all three plus another line that another pair already had set up.
I can’t accurately describe the feeling of getting your hands on natural rock. It is a different sensation than climbing on a constructed wall. I can only compare it to running on a treadmill vs running on a trail, running is great, but it’s amazing outside. Climbing is great but its better in the wild. The only other place I have climbed natural wall was in Vang Vieng in Laos, so that is all I have to compare it too, but the sandstone walls of Long Dong were much more challenging than the limestone in Vang Vieng. Limestone has a lot of natural pockets, so it is very easy to find handholds and there are many options, that make for fast easy climbing. Sandstone has a rougher surface and is not as jagged so there are significantly less options. Almost no natural pockets, a lot of celing, and a lot of natural crack. For most lines there were really only one or two ways you could top rope properly.
It is impossible to climb all of Long Dong in one weekend, even a good portion of it. You could spend a week there trying each line. We decided that we couldn’t get enough so we went back on Sunday to climb Front Gate and Back Gate.
In Front Gate we had three lines set up.
Two were warm up while the third was the most difficult, that members of our group tried for the whole day to accomplish.
Climbing is addicting. After hiking, I think it may be my favorite activity. Once you top rope you get an instant rush of gratification when you look down and see what you have accomplished, it is a very satisfying feeling. And when you can’t make it, or when you feel like you could have done it better, you will try again and again because it will consume you. There isn’t really another activity that you can so closely track your progress and how much you improve in each move you make, because in climbing there is only improvement. It is all about pushing yourself, seeing what your personal limits are and trying to get as high as you can get. So keep climbing that crack.