Review: Rock Climbing Taiwan guidebook 台灣龍洞攀岩

Matt Robertson, author of Long Dong Trad Climbs, has put out a new guidebook on the area - Rock Climbing Taiwan(台灣龍洞攀岩) – Sport Climbing & Trad at Long Dong (運動攀登 傳統攀登).

And it looks good! How good? Click on “Read the rest of this entry” to find out!

Although Long dong has been covered to various extents, on websites  and in previous guide books(LungTung Rock Climbing Guide - Yum Yum & Chin Yin Lu, Long Dong Trad Climbs - Matt Robertson), up till now there has been no definitive, up to date book that talks about sport and trad routes. Rock Climbing Taiwan aims to be this ultimate guide to the area, covering all types of climbing in the Long Dong Area.

The English title of the book – Rock Climbing Taiwan, is slightly misleading in that the book only really covers Long Dong. Though Long Dong is certainly the premier area for climbing in Taiwan, at TaiwanRocks.net we are obliged to point out Taiwan Rock climbing is not just Long Dong – other areas like Guanziling, Rehai, Soushan, have quality climbing as well.

That minor quibble out of the way let’s move on to the review:

Design

The new book’s slick design is courtesy Maurice Chen of Studio M.

The size of the book is about 17x23x2.5cm , a bit larger than an A5 sheet of paper, and it weighs about 800g(2lb). The paper quality is quite good and the cover is sturdy.

Layout, typography and use of color and white space is great. A lot of information is in here but it’s presented in a way that’s easy to read and easy on the eyes.

Organization

The first and last pages of the guide is a full 2 page spread map of the long dong area.

Then the book starts off with General information about Long Dong- how to get there, weather, emergency/first aid information, etc.

Well organized, the guidebook associates each area with a color.

Areas are correspondingly color-labeled on the edge of each page. As you flip through the book, the feeling is of walking through the crag from west to east(left to right facing the rock). Very intuitive.

 

Each area starts off with an introduction overlayed on a striking, full color spread photo. The intro text lays out the highlights of the area and a little of bit of local flavour or history. You really get the sense of a seasoned local climber giving you the lowdown.

 

 

Topos

The next page is a diagram of the overall area, with key beta

  • Approach details
  • GPS coordinates
  • Sun exposure
  • Warnings
  • List of popular/classic routes
  • Distribution of routes by grade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each area is then broken down into individual crags, with a full color, high resolution topo, and route descriptions on a facing page.

The full color photo topos are highly appreciated. Because of diverse rock coloration at Long Dong, full color photos capture the details of the rock much better and greatly aid route-finding.

Route names are colored red for trad and blue for sport. The route is given a Yosemite grade, as well as a “quality” rating — basically a subjective rating of how sweet the climbing is.

Route descriptions vary from one liners to paragraph descriptions. but are generally more than adequate. Occasionally a description is sparse — e.g. sport route 67 “Cowboy Arrete” does not list the # of QD’s needed, but by and large the routes, especially 3 star routes, have quite complete descriptions with gear needed, First Ascent(if known), and notes about where the route goes if the line isn’t obvious. Safety notes are given about chossy routes and bad anchors.

Given the number of routes listed, the amount of detail in some of the routes is astonishing. Matt seems to have done a good job of not just covering newer routes, but also finding out tidbits and history about older routes.

Extras

The book finishes off with a useful index of routes by grade

As well as a traditional alphabetical index

There are also a few pages of just photographs of climbers(as well as some ads). We would complain about fluff, but the photos are just too beautiful.

Cons

We really can’t think of any. The only real “con” with the book is the slightly heavy weight(mostly because of the quality of the paper). Since approach times are relatively short, climbs are single pitch, and the book is not physically big, we don’t see this as a real problem.

For climbers really trying to shave every last ounce, a good option is to photograph(at high resolution) just the pages you need and bring your camera to the crag

Verdict

Rating: ★★★★★ 

This is an amazing guidebook. Clearly a labor of love, hundreds of routes have been labeled, drawn out, and beautifully photographed. The book is fully bilingual and every word of English is also correspondingly there in Chinese.

The design is not only beautiful, but intuitive, easy to use, flip through and find the crag or the specific route you want, or if you prefer, casually browse through and find interesting routes.

For any climber to Long Dong, and for any serious Taiwanese climber, this is a must have, even for the beautifully printed sea cliff climbing photos alone.

Where to Buy

The guidebook retails at 800TWD/$30 USD.

It’s available at iClimb gym in Hsinchu, and Tingsaniou in Taipei.

If you don’t live in Taiwan or Hsinchu and Taipei is too far, Rock Climbing Taiwan is also available online at Climbstone.com.

 

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