David Ferguson unveils a burgeoning climbing scene with plenty to offer in Baihe Valley, Beijing Province, China.
Really miss these destination articles. 3 old articles from the archives here have been the kickstart for our own adventures. More of this.
While appreciating these articles focus on destinations climbing potential, in line with potentially highlighting environmental considerations on travel which is done with some of these destination guides there would seem to also be a potential to highlight geopolitical/security considerations or at least link to relevant foreign office travel advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/china
"China’s authorities have under certain circumstances detained foreigners citing ‘endangering national security’. National Security is interpreted broadly and you may be detained without having intended to break the law. There is also a risk of arbitrary detention, including of British nationals."
The same comment could be applied to a number of other destination articles eg Iran.
Advice for US travellers to the UK:
Be cautious and aware of your surroundings.
Be vigilant, as pickpocketing, mugging, and “snatch and grab” theft of mobile phones, watches and jewelry can occur.
Do not leave bags unattended in restaurants, pubs, hotel lobbies, and parked cars.
Be alert to other criminal schemes, such as impostors posing as undercover police officers and “fining” tourists for bogus minor offenses. A legitimate Metropolitan Police Services officer will never demand an immediate cash payment.
Use only licensed Black Cabs or pre-ordered car services (minicabs). Unlicensed taxis or private cars posing as taxis may offer low fares, but in some instances, travelers have been robbed or sexually assaulted while using these cars. See Transport for London for additional information on cabs and car services.
Avoid using ATMs that look temporary in structure or location or are located in isolated areas – they may not be legitimate. Use ATMs located inside a bank branch.
China is one of the safest and friendliest places I've been. (Many times). The climbing community is more than welcoming and the climbing itself is incredible.
Don't be put off visiting, but maybe refrain for taking photos of police or military installations and you'll be fine.
Great advice but not related to actions of the government of the country (more the inactions?). The stance/behaviour of the government of the country on a range of issues is something I factor into my travel/destination considerations eg I currently wouldn't travel to Russia no matter how good the climbing or how friendly the general population.
> Advice for US travellers to the UK:
If your point is that Foreign Office advice is risk-averse nonsense that's best just ignored, this doesn't really support what you're saying: it's good advice.
Well that's a valid position, but I take the view that the more that different cultures interract and mix, the more likely that both internal and international politics can be influenced for the better. I have many Chinese frends and would not want to see them deprived of the opportunity to travel or share their own climbing and culture due to the actions of the CCP.
I could also argue that UK government action has lead directly to the social inequality that is the root of the crime in the UK described in the US Govt.advice to travellers.
Anyway an interesting topic, on which we each have to follow our own values and beliefs.
No, my point is that such (often good) advice shouldn't prevent you from visiting some amazing places, as long as you use your common sense.
Maybe we should be promoting more local activities and venues? Or those with better human rights records?
> Maybe we should be promoting more local activities and venues? Or those with better human rights records?
I get the environmental argument for going local, but am unconvinced about the human rights argument if you are travelling independently. Would someone like to try to convince me rationally (not just a knee jerk thing)?
> Maybe we should be promoting more local activities and venues? Or those with better human rights records?
Having had a quick scan of the last 10 destination articles we've published on site, all of them - barring this particular one - are what I'd describe as 'close to home' (i.e. either within the UK, or in Europe).
Having had a look a little further back, there's a little more eclectic a blend, including articles on Namibia, Egypt, and India; however, these are very much within a minority within the overall number of destination articles that we publish. I think we get the balance about right, peppering in the occasional one that' further afield, but keeping the focus closer to home.
When it comes to human rights, it's a very complex subject. If travelling to China isn't acceptable, then what about buying products that are made there? I've no doubt that many of us - if not all of us - have products that are made there, but is that somehow ok, but travelling isn't? To put this into context it's worth mentioning that all of the last 5 products we've reviewed are made in China (and I suspect if I went back further, there'd be even more).
I'm not saying for a minute I disagree with the issue you're trying to raise, but what I am saying is that it isn't as simple as 'don't publish a destination article'.
I'll take a hit for that, the China article is arguably against your recent trend of more europe and uk based pieces, I just don't think promoting locations that far away and least of all China is justifiable. That's obviously only my view.
This is a really complex issue and something I thought about a lot while living in China for 3 years and when I wrote the article.
The climate change issue is clear: sadly flying is something that must become a very rare treat. My personal view is that we should use our carbon credits for destinations that are spectacular rather than mundane. Regular fly-drives to El Chorro are no longer okay.
The human rights question is very very hard. The flippant view is that the UK is, frankly, not one to lecture (historically, at least). But there's no avoiding the fact that China is currently doing some nasty things to minority groups. Foreigners I met who managed to go to Xinjiang told some fairly gnarly tales. Conversely, my experience was that foreigners are almost totally ignored by the CCP and the authorities.
The more important point is to separate people and climbing from the politics. I didn't vote for today's UK government or its policies (in fact, like in China, no one did!), and I think many of them are cruel or stupid. But still I would consider myself a good person and the UK a great place to climb. Same for China. The more relevant thing is the day-to-day reality. My day-to-day interactions with chinese friends, neighbours, colleagues and citizens were almost universally wonderful and I strongly believe that more interactions between cultures brings us closer together. If you are going to boycott China then anything that increases cultural interaction should be *last* on the list.
Clearly all of this is complicated, and personal judgement is required.
Agree re flying being a rare treat. Many still don't see it that way.
Don't agree with ditching the El Chorro trip in favour of far flung places. 0.68t CO2 for a return flight to Malaga whilst it's 2.6t CO2 for the same to Beijing. That's 4 El Chorro trips.
Like the article though
> Don't agree with ditching the El Chorro trip in favour of far flung places. 0.68t CO2 for a return flight to Malaga whilst it's 2.6t CO2 for the same to Beijing. That's 4 El Chorro trips.
Presumably the idea is to replace several short haul flights with one long haul flight and do the trips within Europe overland.
> Yes mostly likely. And that results in an increase in CO2 emissions
Well ok, but if you are going to emit a certain amount of carbon, then it makes more sense to use it flying long haul than short haul.
We’re all adults able to make our own decisions on where to travel, based on whatever you want to base those decisions on.
I don’t need UKC to make those decisions for me by deciding what destinations are ok to promote and which aren’t.
I hardly think a UKC article is going to have a massive effect on anything consequential.
In my opinion more the merrier on the destination article front.
> We’re all adults able to make our own decisions on where to travel, based on whatever you want to base those decisions on.
But what are you basing your decision on?
> I don’t need UKC to make those decisions for me by deciding what destinations are ok to promote and which aren’t.
See point above. I guess it's about changing what we see as normal or acceptable. UKC destination articles are just a tiny piece of that mega complex jigsaw. It's hard to change the way I see the world, my family is the result of being able to use relatively low cost trans European flights. Had I met my partner 25 years earlier or later she might not have been my partner and our kids might not have been our kids. We've globalised our world views and our experiences but don't have a non-damaging way of travelling physically to fit that mental expansion.
> But what are you basing your decision on?
A lifetimes worth of experiences, not a UKC article.
My point if it wasn’t clear, is that it’s up to the individual to make those decisions. I don’t want or need UKC to nanny me or self censor what they show me.
Will I be going to this particular destination? No, doesn’t mean I don’t find the information interesting. I was reading about someone’s experience as a tourist to N Korea the other day, doesn’t mean I intend on going there either.
> A lifetimes worth of experiences, not a UKC article.
Which is called socialisation - and that includes the UKC article, the article from the tourist in N Korea, and I'm sure totally depressing articles from the Guardian or some other half decent news source going on about the impacts of climate change that are happening now, displacing populations, causing new diseases etc. along with the rest of your life experiences.
> My point if it wasn’t clear, is that it’s up to the individual to make those decisions. I don’t want or need UKC to nanny me or self censor what they show me.
It's not a matter of self censoring, it's about Rob and Nat and Alan and Dan and the rest of the UKC team deciding what their position on this is, and going for it. And that may be the occasional 'long haul' destination is fine if much of the focus is on UK or train accessible European destinations. It might be they is not much a -relatively speaking- tiny and specialist hobby website can do to limit climate change so it doesn't matter. But I don't think it's unfair for people to lobby in a respectful way for them to not publish such articles. You can make a similar and fair argument that UKC shouldn't keep publishing gear reviews (which I contribute too), because most of us don't need another fleece or harness or set of quickdraws. I think you can make a fair argument against that position as well - but it doesn't mean someone thinking climbing or hill walking is over commercialized don't have a point.
A novel defence that just crossed my mind is, that although the website is UKC we know there are loads of readers not in the UK. A China article might be of interest to Chinese climbers in other area, expat climbers already living in China or other nearish climbers in other countries (South Korea? Japan maybe?) that might give them ideas that don't include getting on a plane to Chamonix or Yosemite.
I suspect the strongest argument against going to China currently is that their health system appears to be on its knees after ending the zero covid policy. Hopefully for Chinese people more than anyone else - that will pass soon.
I’ve not said it’s unfair for people to lobby them to change… They’re welcome to. Just stating my thoughts, I don’t want UKC to stop these articles.
Research carried out by surveyor Alan Dawson, owner of the Grahams hill list, suggests that Ordnance Survey maps - and the hundreds of guidebooks and websites that rely on them - list the wrong summit height for 'over half' the mountains...