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The Great Arch

Posted: Sunday, August 19, 2012
The Great Arch
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  • The Great Arch
  • The Great Arch
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China. It's kind of like one big double-edged Jian. On the one hand, the country is somewhat of a political and economic threat to the United States and our international prosperity. But on the other, it has the Getu Valley, a dramatic stomping ground of limestone cliffs and arch formations that promise to enrapture even the most seasoned spidermen and monkey boys. And Getu's golden child, a 650-foot phenomenon referred to simply as the Great Arch, is the type of rock climber's mecca to which few other pockets of the world can hold a candle.

Getu itself is a small village bordering a national park about 4 to 5 hours outside of Guiyang, the largest city in the Guizhou Province of south central China. Guizhou is one of the last Chinese provinces to have its doors opened to the western world, with tourism to the Getu Valley's sweeping landscape not taking shape until the late 1980s. Today, the area serves up a multitude of limestone-themed activities in the form of stunning arches, massive caves, and dead-drop cliffs interwoven with lush green flora and rugged streams.

The Great Arch has been described as comprehensively extreme, unusual, and incredible--the kind of awe-inspiring natural wonder that makes its visitors contemplate their own existence, wonder if they have somehow stepped out of real life, and re-evaluate all previous assertions that they are not afraid of heights. It boasts climbs that are demanding and puzzling at times, but always rewardingly technical and breathtakingly beautiful. We hear the Great Arch alone has over a hundred pitches ranging from 5c to 9a. Enough, anyway, to attract a Petzl RocTrip.

Petz'a annual climbing tour took to China in 2011, and the Getu Valley's 250+ pitches spread across 15 sectors was its premier stop. Check out the video, and get a glimpse of wait awaits you in the Far East's arcing limestone jewel.

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