A Crazy Climb in China's Remote Getu Valley

Credit: Photograph by Jimmy Chin

In 2011, Spanish climber Dani Andrada put the grand limestone arches of China's remote Getu Valley on the climbing map when he became the first person to climb an exceptionally difficult floor-to-ceiling route of this monstrous 700-foot-wide cave. Since then, top climbers from around the world have ventured to the region to establish new lines of their own, though none of them has been able to conquer Andrada's original one. But in April, Brazilian climber Felipe Camargo arrived with American Alex Honnold, ready to try. But they'd have to wait: "First we had to work on repairing the route for five days before we could even attempt it," says Camargo. "All of the bolts, protections, and ropes needed work because it hadn't been climbed for five years." 

Photographer Jimmy Chin filmed as Camargo and Honnold belayed each other across the cave for six straight hours, moving from stalactite to stalactite while crowds of Chinese tourists gathered 500 feet below. "I've done climbs that were a lot longer than that, but nothing that was so demanding," says Camargo. "It was a crazy style of climbing, and it's such a unique place."