Few other Asian cities are as convenient for rock climbing as Hong Kong. Popular crags are located at places like Tung Lung Chau in the New Territories and Beacon Hill in Kowloon, less than an hour’s journey from the city centre. ‘In other countries, top rock climbing spots tend to be in the middle of nowhere and a hassle to get to, plus you have to take camping gear,’ says Eric Wong, an avid rock climber and mountaineer. ‘Climbers in Hong Kong, however, are blessed with easy-to-reach locations and stunning vistas of both natural and urban landscapes.’
Gordon Hon is training director of Hong Kong Rock Climbing Adventure and specialises in sport climbing, which relies on anchor points permanently installed into rocks for connecting ropes. He used to be a social worker but the outdoor lifestyle was enticing enough for a career change a few years ago. ‘I got the chance to try many outdoor activities when I was working at a youth centre,’ he says. ‘After some time, I realised I wanted a more carefree lifestyle, so I became a full-time rock climbing instructor. I often act as a guide for tourists seeking the city’s best climbing spots.’
In many ways, rock climbing is a solitary activity, one that calls for intense focus from the individual climber. Wong says he relishes this type of challenge against nature. One reason he trains in traditional climbing, which involves attaching anchor points to the crags and removing them afterwards, is his dedication to mountaineering. He has conquered peaks around the world and plans to head to Mount Everest next year. ‘For peaks that rise above 5,000 metres, climbers are usually required to fix their own anchors,’ he says. ‘So while traditional rock climbing is extremely challenging, it’s a necessary skill for me.’
But rock climbing can also be a social activity, especially with indoor bouldering, in which participants use artificial rock walls and no ropes. The social aspect is appealing to Mo Hon, who took up the sport a year ago but already holds a Level 2 climbing certificate; there are five levels by international standards. ‘Indoor climbing is a social activity with quite a few female participants,’ she says. ‘We root for one another, so it’s a supportive atmosphere.’ Some climbing venues even organise ladies’ nights, which attract both women and men to socialise and try out the sport.