Cat Ba, Vietnam
November 28, 2010
It’s Sunday night and we are on the boat back to the harbour. The last few days have been full. Our
second day in Cat Ba, Simon and Lee took to the sea to rebolt a few lines. The girls headed to Butterfly Valley for the first time.
Butterfly Valley is a limestone crag in one of the valleys on the island. I am told there are 6 such
crags with potential for development in the area. Each of the crags has access issues and Slo of Slo Pony is sorting that out. To help with access to
Butterfly Valley, Slo has worked out a fee/leasing arrangement with the locals and the landowner. There is a fee you pay to climb at the area (I’m actually
not sure how much it is because Slo keeps arranging all of our outings), but sometimes you can get a waiver if you buy the lunch from the lady who owns the
land you cross to get to the crag. I recommend the lunch, at least once, if visiting. She’s lovely and makes a very traditional but edible meal for you.
I also recommend asking for the lunch later in the day so you can sit and appreciate the meal without the worry of returning to climb. The lunch cost us
50,000 VND ($2.50 USD) per person.
Access to Butterfly Valley can be sorted at Slo Pony Adventures in Cat Ba the night before. You can arrange
scooters for $3 USD or for larger parties, hire a car. The drive to the Valley takes around 3o minutes and you get dropped right at the entrance. There
is an obvious path either up and left after exiting the home grounds or down and right through the fields. At different times of the year, the different paths
would be more suited. Right now, you can go both ways, but a few weeks ago, the Valley had several feet of water and the only approach was through the high
The cliff is Southeast facing so temps can get quite warm and the rock quite slick in the morning. Temps
usually drop by afternoon and you can maneuver yourself along the cliff in an effort to chase shade. The climbs are single pitch up to about 30m, but most are
in the range of 20 to 25m. The bolts are well placed and the climbs are fantastic. Grade ranges are from 5 to 8a+ so far. Just about every climb I’ve sampled
is a classic on the wall. My favorite is the ‘tree’ climb. The grade is 5 but well worth the experience. Mid-way up the climb, you navigate the labrynth of
tree trunk to the top. Fantastic! A little beta for this climb, unclip the 3rd bolt under the roof as you go.
With Simon and Lee wrecked from bolting, we opted for another day climbing at Butterfly Valley. We declined
the lunch this day but I managed to squeek out a motorbike ride to the cliff with Slo. Since Monique and Simon have Coco to handle, we’d been pampering
ourselves with a hired car to drop and pick us up. Cars can make their way up to the crag, but the roads are very narrow and motorbikes are the preferred
method for transport.
2 days in the Valley and we realize we only have 2 days of DWS opportunities left.
The tides are on their way out and there won’t be another high tide coinciding with a day trip for the rest of our days here. We hadn’t considered this
before booking the trip, but for future DWS trips here, that’s a key point to plan around.