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  • About a wall

    Hello everyone

    I will be spending three days at the walls from mid-month. Unfortunately I can only make it at the weekends. I am looking at spending a couple of days around Jiankou and a day Jinshangling-Simatai. Can you guys help me with some advice?

    About me: I was born and live in the hills in rough limestone country and am mountain-wise. Most of the time I go around on my own and I know my limits. The words. "If you have an accident out there, you will have nobody to help you" are among my first memories as a child, and they remain with me every step of the way - particularly in cities.

    Despite this, I have never had the slightest interest in rockface climbing as a sport. I tried it once and got fed up looking at a blank wall of stone.

    Jiankou wall. Many people seem to talk about walking from Jiankou towards Mutianyu. From what I am proposing to do, it would seem logical to start at Mutianyu and walk west for a day. On the second day, I could continue travelling west(ish)as far as possible then go back to Xizhazi. Does this make sense, or have I missed something?

    The first day seems to present no problems - if I can start at Mutianyu (advice please). On the second day, it might be logical to have a guide. Do I need one, can I get one from Xizhazi or does anyone have any other advice?

    I have looked for private guides online, but these do not seem to fit my style. Most of the pictures show people who appear to be on a Sunday stoll, waving flags or doing somersaults on the wall. I am also put off by the fact that most sites seem to spend as much time talking about the eating arrangements as they do about walking.

    For me, the priorities are to get out there as early as possible and use every minute until just before dusk; see as much as possible and try to wear-out the camera shutter.

    Now that I think about it, I suppose I should re-phrase the question. Could I find a guide who would stick with me for that amount of time? Self answer - I will probably end up doing the walk on my own. Even so, any ideas would be welcome.

    So, onto the Jinshangling-East Simatai wall. It looks like the East Simatai section is now accessible, but I cannot figure out what is going on.

    From what I can see, I can get onto the wall if I bunk in somewhere near the Water Village before 6.30am...or I can go in via the Water Village after 9am if I have booked by phone 24-hours earlier with someone who probably does not speak English...or I might be able to pay to enter the Water Village and the wall and hope that the entrance is opened that day. Has anyone used this system? Does anyone understand it? Was it designed by the same people who wrote my operating system?

    What happens if I start at on the wall at Jinshangling and walk east towards Simatai? Will I reach some sort of barrier and be forcibly ejected?

    Help!

  • #2
    Re: About a wall

    Hi Lenscap,
    I can give some answers as I did these hikes recently.

    1) Hiking from Mutianyu to Jiankou makes perfect sense, on the first day you will have one climbing section half an hour after Zhongbeilou tower, but if you don't like what you see when you reach that point, you have enough time to return to Zhongbeilu and take the easy trail down to the village. Otherwise, climb down the section, continue on the wall until Jiankou pass and hike down to the village from there. Next day pick up your trail at Jiankou pass and continue to hike the rest of Jiankou, then down to the village again. On this second day there are two climbing sections that are more difficult and more dangerous than the one below Zhongbeilou that you passed on the first day. They are located between Tian Ti and Beijing Knot, you'll know it when you reach them, the wall is broken in both places. Coming from Jiankou pass, both sections are a climb downwards. You can take easy detours on the left side of the wall if you don't like to climb. I'd recommend to use the detours, especially if you're hiking alone, since any fall would lead to injury.
    As for a guide, you don't really need one if you are used to hiking in the mountains alone. The trail is obvious and the hike is not overly difficult, just avoid the climbing sections on the second day and you should be fine. You can't do the hike in one day, not enough daylight hours yet and you'll likely use up a lot of your time for photo stops anyway.
    I did the Jiankou hike in January in the same direction that you're planning. Back then I posted some info on how to pass the climbing section below Zhongbeilu tower, which is not that obvious to find when coming downwards. Just search on the forum.

    2) Jinshanling - Simatai: when you are already pretty close to the Simatai reservoir, you'll hit a barrier that you can't easily pass. By that time you've seen the most beautiful part of this hike, so you might as well head back and spend the rest of your day at Jinshanling. It's worth it, especially if you like taking photos. Plan to be at Jinshanling's western end before sunset to enjoy the best views. Again, you'll find more information in a post that I did in January.

    3) Simatai East: e-mail the Dongpo guesthouse at dongpo@byways.asia, you'll get a reply in English. Overnight at this guesthouse, from there it's a 15 min hike up to the wall at Simatai East tower No. 6, from there 45 min to the Heavenly ladder and another hour or so to Wangjinglou tower. The infamous Sky bridge you can avoid by taking an easy detour on the north side of the wall. If you leave Dongpo at 6 am, you'll see no guards at Simatai. Once you have reached Wangjinglou, you could head back to Dongpo on a forest trail. That circuit should take 4 hours. So if you are in good physical condition, you could hike Simatai East early morning, and Jinshanling afterwards until sunset. Dongpo can organize transport to Jinshanling from their guesthouse.

    Another option is to continue east after Wangjinglou, heading beyond Simatai all day long towards the Bailingguan section. I did that hike a few days ago and will try to post some pics with the route later. If you like remote hiking with some sort of wilderness feeling, this is a good option, and it's very scenic as well.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: About a wall

      Robtrek

      Excellent reply. Exactly the information that I needed.

      When I walk on my own, I tend be just a little bit more careful when deciding whether I am going to start/complete a climb. Not knowing this route, my main concern was how easy it would be to find a walk-round, if required - which is why I thought I might need a guide. From what you say, the trail seems pretty easy to follow at this time of year.

      Your previous posts are also a help. Thanks for the advice at 3)

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: About a wall

        I agree with that advice.

        note that if you get away early enough from Mutianyu, you ought to easily make it further than Jiankou pass in a day, probably closer to the east side of the Tian Ti. There, you can easily head down to the village (when you get to the rubble at the very base of the Tian Ti, take the clear path on our right, and where it intersects the next path, turn right again and take it straight to the village. Next day, come up the same way but dont turn left to get to the base of the TT, keep on straight up. You will miss the TT (the top of it has a dangerous climb best avoided) and head right to Eagles Fly Facing Upwards. west of that, get off the wall through the left side door immediately after the twoer, and follow the clear path down. There is a tricky downclimb over some near-vertical rubble but it is far preferable to trying to go straight down the wall here which is very dangerous. From ther after regaining the wall continue westish, noting the easy-to-find detour round the other mini cliff. You will come up to the Beijing Knot the easy way. You should still have time, if you got a good start and are reasonably fast, to then continue down the (very steep) north face of BJK, and onwards towards the Nine Eye Tower. You can judge by the time whether to try to make it up there but the wall along the way is worthy of a walknon its own. There are several spots where you can quit and return to the village.
        If you're tired of the Great Wall, you're tired of life.
        Journeys, &c

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: About a wall

          Thanks bianfuxia

          By putting together the advice that I now have, I am pretty clear as to what I am going to do, however I do have a few more questions.

          I have been studying Bryan's Great Wall map and it is a great help, but the overall mapping of the area is...well...'different'. I can obviously try counting the towers to work out which one I am at, but as soon as I reach 10 I am going to run out of fingers and toes. Is there an easier way to identify the towers?

          Also what are the usual daytime temperatures, mid-March? I want to make sure that I have suitable clothing for the season. With a heavy camera and a couple of buckets of water slung over my shoulders, I have to consider weight.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: About a wall

            Clothing: warm hat, warm gloves, mountain jacket, spare pullover is all you need if temperatures are around zero and wind is moderate, as they were this January. Normal daypack, weight is of no concern.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: About a wall

              look here for photos of your upcoming hike, in the same direction as you plan to do it.
              http://www.greatwallforum.com/forum/...html#post17486

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: About a wall

                Originally posted by Robtrek View Post
                weight is of no concern.
                You have not felt the weight of my day pack!!

                I have been looking for the forest track back from Wangjinglou to Dongpo. As far as I can see, all of the tracks seem to go south. Is that correct or is there another track that I am missing?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: About a wall

                  Thanks Robtrek. Looking at them now.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: About a wall

                    Robtrek

                    Following on from your notes. Is DSC01629 the collapse, the detour or something else, and is 1636 the reverse view of 1629?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: About a wall

                      Forest track Wangjinglou back to Dongpo guesthouse: the guesthouse says there is one, but I didn't take it as we continued to hike the wall towards Beilingguan. Better find out from the guesthouse, they have an English speaking friend helping with communication. The trail you're looking for must go down on the north side, Dongpo is on the north side of the Simatai wall.
                      From what I experienced in that area, trails can be heavily overgrown, not necessarily visible on google earth.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: About a wall

                        Originally posted by Lenscap View Post
                        Robtrek

                        Following on from your notes. Is DSC01629 the collapse, the detour or something else, and is 1636 the reverse view of 1629?

                        1622 to 1674 all show the first collapse, 1691 the second.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: About a wall

                          Originally posted by Lenscap View Post
                          Thanks bianfuxia



                          I have been studying Bryan's Great Wall map and it is a great help, but the overall mapping of the area is...well...'different'. I can obviously try counting the towers to work out which one I am at, but as soon as I reach 10 I am going to run out of fingers and toes. Is there an easier way to identify the towers?
                          Not exactly sure what you mean by this. Sometimes the GE overlay is offset slightly from the imagery. But the only real way to identify the towers is to get to know them. Along the Jiankou area, few of them have names anyway. Beijing Knot is easy, it has a very distinctive tree on top of it. Eagles Fly Facing Upwards is on top of an epic cliff.

                          If it were me, I would print out the GE imagery with the overlay on top and use it like a map. Print to an obvious scale, oriented north, and navigate in the normal way.

                          Have a look at Robtrek's great photos on this other thread: http://www.greatwallforum.com/forum/...rious-day.html: I've added in a few names for easy reference.
                          Last edited by bianfuxia; 03-06-2014, 12:06 AM.
                          If you're tired of the Great Wall, you're tired of life.
                          Journeys, &c

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: About a wall

                            Originally posted by Lenscap View Post
                            I have been studying Bryan's Great Wall map and it is a great help, but the overall mapping of the area is...well...'different'. I can obviously try counting the towers to work out which one I am at, but as soon as I reach 10 I am going to run out of fingers and toes. Is there an easier way to identify the towers?
                            Originally posted by bianfuxia View Post
                            Not exactly sure what you mean by this.
                            Basically, I have not been to this area before and do not know the land around the wall. If the weather turns bad or I need to get down for any other reason, it would help if I knew exactly which tower I was at in order to locate a path back to the village. I wondered if there was a better way to identify towers other than by counting.

                            It may seem like I am being over-cautious, but I have been reading posts on here which suggest that even seasoned wall-walkers have trouble finding and following paths - so any clue that guides me to the start of a path does give me an initial advantage.

                            I suspect that I will look back at this post in a few weeks time and think how stupid it sounds; but when I go into new territory, I prefer to calculate the risk rather than trust to luck.

                            Sure, I have seen pictures of people walking a wild wall dressed as if they are going to a disco - that is their choice. Tourists do it all the time in the hills where I live and the vast majority get away with it...some pay with their lives.

                            I am just assessing my options so that I can go out there and have fun.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: About a wall

                              Originally posted by Robtrek View Post
                              Hi Lenscap,
                              ... Next day pick up your trail at Jiankou pass and continue to hike the rest of Jiankou, then down to the village again. On this second day there are two climbing sections that are more difficult and more dangerous than the one below Zhongbeilou that you passed on the first day. They are located between Tian Ti and Beijing Knot, you'll know it when you reach them, the wall is broken in both places. Coming from Jiankou pass, both sections are a climb downwards. You can take easy detours on the left side of the wall if you don't like to climb. I'd recommend to use the detours, especially if you're hiking alone, since any fall would lead to injury. ...
                              I have to track back on my words. After consulting with bianfuxia, who thankfully added some captions to my Jiankou photos http://www.greatwallforum.com/forum/...html#post17486 , it seems that the hardest of all climbs in Jiankou, the descent from "Eagle Fly Facing Upwards", can't be avoided as there is no detour. You can see details in photos No. 1623...1638. My apologies, I was under the impression that there is a trail on the left side circumventing that whole 15m cliff, apparantly that's not the case. Since you specifically mentioned that you don't fancy rock climbing, you may not like this section at all. Especially so as you intend to pack more weight, which is adding to the risk of this descent. The rockface here is rather worn and slippery, footholds are small. My assessment: this section is the most dangerous and technically demanding in all of Jiankou.

                              Comment

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