- Huashan Shaaxi, China
- 34⁰28’44.00”N 110⁰04’10.00”E
- Leo Houlding, Carlos Suarez, Wang Zhi Ming
- July 2009
Huashan is one of China's Five Sacred Daoist Mountains and is revered in China in a similar way to Lourdes in Europe. Visited by four million Chinese pilgrims annually, it is of huge cultural and spiritual significance. Regarded as the birthplace of Kung Fu, it is steeped in more than 2000 years of imperial history and myths of epics and heroes.
After gaining rarely-granted permission, Leo, Carlos Suarez (Spain) and Wang Zhi Ming (China) made the first ascent of the impressive 600m west face via the skyline ridge. Having defeated the French, Spanish. Japanese and Chinese attempts, the team encountered vertical tree wrestling mixed with difficult, scary rock climbing on the severely vegetated face. Despite a heavy rainstorm they climbed the route (with a few points of aid) in 13 hours without placing any bolts or pitons.
They were met by a heroes’ welcome on the summit; their ascent making hundreds of headlines all over China. So impressed by their effort, the management of the national monument declared they would carve the names of the victorious climbers into the stone alongside those of Emperors and Kung Fu Legends.
They named their route, Northern Celestial Masters (E6 6b, 600m) after a Daoist movement founded by Master Kou Qianzhi, who reached enlightenment at the base of the sacred face.