TOPO Climbing

Butterfly Valley, Sport Climbing, Cat Ba Island, Vietnam

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Chuyen Nui

Butterfly Valley, a pretty sector with some sixty routes in the heart of the island, a little above the village of Lien Minh. A scooter takes us through the jungle to reach the area. Discovery of the leftmost sector, Pond Wall, reached by crossing a small pond (Pond) on a makeshift raft using a long bamboo... original. We warm up on the 3 central routes in 6a and 6a+ before attempting option 7, thinking we were dealing with a 7a+ (in fact 7c+!). We return the next day to discover a sector further to the left: Upper Mantle with a few accessible routes, then in 6 and above if we have the level. The foot of the routes is protected by lush vegetation, with some pretty incredible colors. A beautiful place, even in the rain, peaceful and green. The atmosphere is peaceful, the nature beautiful and relaxing. Beautiful days.

Technical summary

Access to the place

Cat Ba is easily reached by scooter. Take the road heading due west out of the village and turn right at the 1st junction towards Natural Park, then quickly left onto a road with a red and white barrier at the entrance (road under construction). Follow the road through a small village, past the Mai Chau cave and then, after a bend to the left, straight ahead on the cement road. It climbs and descends through the jungle, ending up in a tiny village. At the entrance, turn left towards "The Hive", then right. You arrive in an undergrowth area with a shack and a small parking area for scooters. There's even a series of hammocks for siestas, eventually...

Map & topo

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 5'

For the Pond Wall sector, continue straight ahead on your scooter to the bottom, where a path leads to the fields facing the cliff. Leave the scooter there, in front of the pond. Use the raft and bamboo to cross the mini pond and disembark at the foot of the local tracks.

For Upper Mantle, take the narrow path that starts just behind the parking lot. Follow the slope to reach the foot of the tracks on the left-hand side of the sector.

Course Les voies

They are very well equipped, and also on the easy ones, which is quite rare. Good-quality rock, but beware of vegetation and beasts that have made their nests in the beautiful holes. The topos were taken from thecrag.com.


POND WALLS


Rome to hanoi express (18m, 6a)

Nice cracks, impeccable rock, no diffculty apart from a more athletic finish. Great for warming up.


Argentina's Delight (27m, 6a+)

The start is common to the 3 central routes. A small dihedral to negotiate to reach the foot of a sort of inverted triangle. Follow the easy dihedral to the left before finishing vertically. The last movements are the hardest, quite physical but not too difficult either. The final climb is on a ledge, and the belay is also common, a little to the right.


Mother Butterfly (27m, 6a)

Perhaps the most beautiful. Identical start to the previous one, then at the foot of the triangle, cross to the right, aerial passage. The rest is pleasant, with fine but straightforward horizontal cracks. Finish by turning left to reach the shared belay.


Flight of the bumble bee (27m, 7c+)

Here too, a shared start, then straight on. A very tricky first move (6c?) and from there it gets more complicated. One or 2 doable steps aboveuss before arriving at the last movement, which seems totally unfeasible!


UPPER MANTLE


Chuyen Nui (18m, V)

Start at the foot of a magnificent banana tree. Only one difficulty: the traverse step at 5/6m, quite thin. The rest of the route is on slabs with no major difficulties. Relay under a roof.


5 Fun (25m, IV+)

Same start but crosses to the right with a slightly airy step. The 2nd part is very easy, from III to the relay.


Vu Duyen (10m, V+)

Central route, very short but interesting. Climbs in increments with a tendency to pour to the right. The last movements are the trickiest, a little technical. Good warm-up route. A 6b next to it to try out next time.


Grass is always greener (22m, 6a+)

Nice route, very invigorating and sustained, especially the 1st half. A more difficult step at 4/5m, then the 2nd part in a fine traverse. We finish with our arms pumping!


Dublin Mudslide (25m, 6a)

Starts just around the corner, to the left of the previous route. Watch out for hornets' nests (?) in the holes... Less sustained, through awkward vegetation. The 2nd part is more interesting. Relay a little above Grass. There's a forked option on the left, but it's now almost overgrown.

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