This weekend we decided to give slab climbing at Devil’s Peak a go. I can see Devil’s Peak out the office window – distracting me on a daily basis – so had been wanting to go there for some time. The less than vertical grade of slabs can make them look easy but that can be anything but the case. They offer a mental challenge unlike a vertical or overhanging route. If you take a lead fall on a slab, you may not fall cleanly into space but rather slide or tumble down the face if it all goes wrong.
Devil’s Peak is a 45 minute or so walk up the hill from Yau Tong MTR Station on the Kowloon side. From the access point you can abseil down or scramble around the headwall to access the top of the main face and several anchors from which you can abseil to the bottom. We had two ropes – 60 metres and 70 metres – and mindful that we didn’t know much about the place, we used the longest rope to do what looked like the shortest abseil. So far so good. We’d got to the bottom safe and sound.
We decided to have a crack at the routes in sequence moving across the face from left to right. The first two routes proved easy enough with some really fun sections although it was clear that slab climbing would be a different challenge from the routes we normally climb. In some sections there are literally no hand or foot holds and it came down to technique and trusting your feet which took a bit of getting used to. The various slab climbing tips I’d read (hips out, heels down, keep moving) definitely helped.
It was a stinking hot and very humid day. The crag is exposed and the rock radiates heat. Not the best day to be there. The next climb was far harder with a difficult opening sequence. By the time we’d climbed it we were shattered and out of water (we’d taken several litres). Time to go home. After climbing the main face again, coiling the ropes and packing all the gear, scrambling around the headwall, and walking back to the train station, in direct sun and without fluid, dehydration was really starting to kick-in.
Convenience stores are ubiquitous in Hong Kong. The walk down to the MTR station felt like the only stretch of road in Hong Kong without a convenience store every 20 metres. I contemplated trying to buy water off passers-by. Finally, we found one. Sports drink never tasted so good. Home. Thumping headache. Passed out on the couch. Woke up a few hours later feeling 50% lighter than when I had gone out in the morning. Keen to head back on a cool and cloudy day.