While skeptical, I was also curious about the rumors of climbing less than 30 minutes from downtown Ulaanbaatar. Let’s face it, it’s been along time since I’ve had easy access to good rock. Needing to escape the city, even if for nothing more than clean air and some trees, I jumped on the opportunity to take a cab ride to the Ulaanbaatar Observatory with my new German climbing partners.
Within 30 minutes, we were high above the smog filled city surround by clean air, evergreen trees and walking trails. So far, things were looking good, but I was still skeptical of the cliffs. I remember reading that looking for new rock is 90% looking and 10% excitement. Over the last 20 years, I’ve been fortunate, but I’ve also followed my fair share of false leads.
This trip turned out to be quite successful. The hilltop has a few outcrops of rocks. While not worth a plane ticket, it’s definitely a gift if you want to climb near the city. So far, we’ve discovered two bouldering walls that offer a few traverses and some potential for vertical to overhanging problems. The rock needs some serious cleaning before committing to some of the high problems, but over the next couple years, I think it will be worth visiting.
The second area currently offers some nice top-roping and potential for a couple of trad leads. When the drill arrives, I plan adding some bolts to make this a small but fun sport climbing zones with routes from 5.7 to 5.10+
The third wall, roughly 20 meters high has two great dihedrals, both roughly 5.9 with excellent gear. We also managed to top-rope a couple other routes. With some careful bolting, this wall could have half a dozen sport routes in the 5.10 to 5.11 range. I’m looking forward to having more lead-able routes near home. Especially for when Ernita and I only have half a day to play or when we want to teach some friends to climb.
The last wall we found, which is actually the closest to the parking area, is where my new project is. The tallest wall so far, and the most overhanging too. My project is a nice, but hard trad line that will cllimb the tallest and most overhung side of the formation. Not sure yet, but I think this wall has potential for 4 to 6 bolted routes as well. From the looks of it, the routes would be in the 5.12 to 5.13 range.
If I had a car, I would consider driving to the bouldeirng zone after work a couple times a week. Would be a nice workout and escape from Ulaanbaatar. The area is dog and child friendly too.