Aniu is a sponsored The North Face athlete, member of Yangshuo’s search and rescue team, climbing coach, as well as the lead guide and owner of Black Rock Climbing —a climbing and kayak guiding service based in Yangshuo.
Aniu He fell hard in love with the sport after spending one weekend climbing in Yangshuo. Aniu’s North Face adventures have taken him climbing all over the world, including Spain, Italy, the Red River Gorge, New River Gorge, Hueco Tanks, and Las Vegas. He is currently projecting 9a+, 5.15a’s and v14s.
Tell us about that magical weekend when you discovered rock climbing for the first time.
I was on vacation back in 2008 and tried rock climbing for the first time and never looked back. After that weekend, I returned to Yangshuo to volunteer as an intern at Black Rock Climbing, and eventually I left the army after my University studies ended to pursue my passion for climbing full-time.
How do you think that climbing has changed tourism in Yangshuo, and how has tourism in China changed overall over the past decade?
Traditional tourism in Yangshuo consisted of bamboo rafting and biking, and has now expanded to include climbing, abseiling, kayaking, ziplining, and more! Chinese tourists are now more adventurous than ever before, and want to do more out of the box activities that push their limits.
That’s awesome to hear! Do you think that climbing could become a mainstream sport in China?
I think that it will take a while because it’s still perceived by many as dangerous and over the edge, but it’s definitely getting more popular.
How has the proliferation of rock climbing development in Yangshuo changed the female climbing scene?
Over the past 2-3 years, more women have been climbing than ever before, and our goal is to foster their love for climbing outdoors by taking them out on fun, easy climbs. This helps build their confidence and change the perception that climbing is dangerous or too difficult for women.
What makes Black Rock Climbing different from other guiding companies in Yangshuo?
Our mantra is ‘Excellence Through Passion.’ We differentiate ourselves through our professionalism, sponsored The North Face and Salewa athletes, commitment to improving our staff’s climbing skills, and passion to educate young people in China about how to protect and environment and thrive within nature and the great outdoors.
What inspired you to start a climbing company?
I’m passionate about climbing and want to spread the word about climbing and Yangshuo. I want to change people’s minds about how safe climbing can be and my vision is for people to enjoy nature.
You’re currently projecting some super hard routes. How do you train strength and endurance?
Finger hangs, hangboards, Chinese traditional Kung Fu stuff. I built my own training obstacle course on my roof deck to stay strong since we don’t really have a climbing gym in Yangshuo.
What advice would you give to climbers new to the sport?
Definitely focus on safety first. Find an experienced partner and mentor to check your equipment. Climbing is inherently dangerous, but we shouldn’t not do climb because of the risk and having an experienced partner makes a world of difference.