Lion Rock: Hong Kong’s most beautiful climbing destination

Travel

Hong Kong (CNN) — If one had to single out which of Hong Kong’s 100-plus mountains best represents the city, the choice would be simple — Lion Rock.

This 495-meter-tall monolith, named for its resemblance to a crouching lion, is sandwiched between Kowloon and the New Territories.

It’s arguably the best place to take in sweeping views of the Hong Kong cityscape, offering a 180-degree travel snapshot of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island across the famous Victoria Harbor.

The mountain became an emblem of Hong Kong in the 1970s thanks to popular TV show and eponymous song “Below the Lion Rock,” which depicted the lives of the city’s versatile residents.

The term “the Spirit of Lion Rock” was coined to symbolize the perseverance and solidarity of the city.

But more recently, the mountain has earned fame for its rock-climbing routes, the most scenic and challenging in town.

Local mountaineering associations rate Lion Rock a 6b, one of the highest technical grades in the UK’s climb grading system, which goes up to 7b.

“Lion Rock is located in the center of Hong Kong — it’s only half an hour away from the city,” says Tsang Wing-chi, an avid rock climber.

“So you just need to spend three hours in the weekend and you can release all your burdens. When you climb to the top, the view is magnificent. You’ll fall in love with the city if you come to explore the nature. It’ll amaze you.”

Hong Kong's dramatic Lion Rock.

Hong Kong’s dramatic Lion Rock.

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Most challenging rock climb

Lion Rock might not be Hong Kong’s highest peak — that honor goes to the 957-meter Tai Mo Shan — but it’s certainly one of the most dramatic, thanks to its exposed granite face.

Dubbed the gweilo (‘foreigner’ in local slang) route, as it was first explored and summited by foreigners, it features five different pitches.

After warming up with a slab climb and a relatively easy second pitch, daredevils move onto the physically and mentally exhausting third, fourth and fifth pitches.

“The third pitch tests your traditional rock-climbing skills — it requires a crack climbing technique,” says Gordon Hon, climbing instructor and founder of Hong Kong Rock Climbing Adventure.

“This pitch will be tiring, and it needs more techniques to finish. The next pitch challenges your ability to overcome mental barriers, which is a traverse.

“There are skyscrapers in the background, you will be aware of the surroundings and realize you are high up in the sky so it will be stressful. But nothing compares to the last pitch.

“It doesn’t test your rock-climbing skills, but it’s a mental challenge. You will clearly feel that you are high up in the sky, and the surroundings [make the climb feel] extremely dangerous.”

This route is recommended for experienced climbers fitted with the right equipment.

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