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The Great Ice Walls of China and Cuba Rocks

Craig and Silvia Luebben planned a trip to the remarkable Ak Su valley in Kyrgyzstan in 2000. State department warnings of terrorism deterred them, and the team of climbers that did go was kidnaped by militant rebels and made a now-famous, daring escape. The Luebbens opted for the Siguniang Mountains in China's Sichuan province to explore big granite walls up to 4000 feet tall. They left empty-handed after 3 weeks of daily rain and snow, but Craig Luebben returned four months later with Topher Donahue to find a valley filled with 125 unclimbed frozen waterfalls of all sizes and shapes.

They feasted on a daily diet of hard new ice routes up to WI7 M8 and 600 feet high, while basking nightly in the hospitality of their hosts the Ma family. They also climbed with and trained their Chinese translator Kai Zhao, who is one of China's top rock climbers. In January, 2002 Luebben returned with two climbers from Maine to "clean up" on more beautiful lines. That February Luebben headed south to climb on the "fairy tale" limestone towers near Yangshuo in the Guangxi province. He climbed exclusively with Chinese climbers, and spent several days teaching them safety and advanced climbing techniques.

In February, 1999, a team of climbers from the United States traveled to Cuba to explore its potential for rock climbing. They found surreal rock formations set amidst a gorgeous landscape, with gracious, warm people and spicy Cuban music. The experience was so powerful, and the climbing so exceptional, that they returned to Cuba several more times. They opened many unforgettable routes during these trips, and the quality of the Cuban climbing is now being recognized by many American and European climbers.

This slide presentation focuses on the Chinese ice climbing and culture, and the Cuba experience. This presentation lasts approximately 60 minutes.