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Ain’t no mountain high enough

By Zhang Zihan (Global Times)

08:50, May 30, 2013

A group of expats climb a mountain last week in Baihe in Beijing's northern district of Huairou.Photos Courtesy of Simon Adams

As Simon Adams clung almost completely horizontally to an artificial boulder wall, he felt his strength drain from weary muscles and stiff joints. Just an arm's length from glory, sweat raced down his brow as he contemplated his next and final move. Eyeing narrow hand and foot holds to dig his fingers and feet, he gradually extended a steady hand and foot as he dangled with Spider-Man-like agility.

A swift scamper later, he was atop of the boulder wall enjoying what climbers call "the rush" that comes from conquering a summit.

"Climbing is a challenging sport, which is not only physically challenging but also mentally challenging. It demands power, logic and even imagination," said Adams, director of the Beijing Climbing Club (BCC).

Adams, a 32-year-old Scot who has lived in China for 11 years, leads climbing expeditions in Beijing's rural counties Yanqing and Miyun.

Climbing, both indoors and outdoors, has made great strides in China in recent years, luring a mix of adrenaline junkies drawn to an extreme sport and outdoors enthusiasts who enjoy combining nature with fitness.

Climbing pioneers

Since assuming the helm of the BCC, Adams has sought to broaden climbing's appeal in Beijing to expats and Chinese alike by opening new routes.

"There are usually two ways of building routes. For traditional climbing routes, climbers go up on rocks and wedge small 'safety sticks' into cracks. Their rope is clipped to these sticks so they won't fall too far, but [the sticks] are not stable enough," said Adams.

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