Red Rock was founded to explore and document the ancient Tea & Horse Caravan Trail. This trading route once rivaled the Silk Road in importance, connecting China and Tibet with India and Southeast Asia. We aim to map not just the highways, but also the forgotten byways of this great interchange of cultures.
We also aim to share the experience. Every spring and autumn, we organize small-group journeys along sections of particular interest. Some of these treks follow trails familiar to us; others are expedition-style journeys into unknown territory. We also tailor treks to order.
We use local resources wherever possible, avoiding main roads and relying on mule teams to carry our gear, just like the traders of the Tea & Horse Caravan Trail. As guests in fragile areas of great cultural significance and natural beauty, we aim to have as little impact as possible on the human and natural environment. But we hope also to leave a lasting, positive impression by encouraging the local people and government officials who work with us to take greater care of their land. As these beautiful trails are gradually rediscovered through journeys like ours, we hope they may avoid the damage done by tourism development elsewhere in China.
Red Rock is owned and directed by two old friends, Dr. Ed Jocelyn and Yang Xiao. They organize and lead all Red Rock treks and expeditions. Ed is among the most famous historians and adventurers in China, while Yang Xiao is one of China’s leading outdoorsmen.
Ed holds a Ph.D in history and is the world’s leading authority on the Long March…probably. An Australian-born Englishman who has lived in China since 1997, Ed turned to field study in 2002 when he launched the New Long March project with his old friend Andrew McEwen. Their aim was to retrace the entire Long March on foot.
In the following five years, Ed trekked 8,000 miles through remote parts of China. He spent several months in the Kham region of eastern Tibet, conceiving a particular affection for this wild country.
The story of Ed’s first journey is told in The Long March, co-written with Andrew McEwen and published in five languages in 2006-7. Ed’s current research explores the history of the revolutionary era in Kham, focusing particularly on the Tibetan rebellion in Zhongdian. When not exploring, Ed lives and writes in Beijing with his two cat companions, Xiao Mao and Li Gui.
One of China’s leading field equipment experts, Yang Xiao is an itinerant native of Sichuan Province. Well-known to Chinese outdoor enthusiasts as Gear Guy, he trained and outfitted Ed’s first expedition, which retraced Chairman Mao’s Long March over 384 days in 2002-03.
Prior to joining Ed’s New Long March project for two subsequent expeditions, Yang Xiao worked with William Lindesay OBE as a member of the International Friends of the Great Wall. He organized the horse and mule teams for many international groups visiting more remote parts of the Wall.
Yang Xiao spends as much time as possible in the mountains. He says he sleeps poorly in the city and has even been known to erect a tent in his living room in order to feel more at home. When not dreaming up new routes for Red Rock, Yang Xiao writes features and gear reports for Chinese outdoor adventure magazines.
Ed and Yang Xiao met shortly after Ed moved to Beijing in 1997. Yang Xiao was disbelieving when Ed first told him about the New Long March, but joined in enthusiastically. The two have been fast friends ever since.
Why Red Rock?
The name combines two predecessors: one whose journey led us into eastern Tibet in the first place; the other who opened our minds to the possibilities of further exploration. We followed the footsteps of the Red Army across much of Kham while retracing the Long March in 2006 and 2007.
Once there, we heard and learned much about the American botanist-explorer Joseph Rock, whose peregrinations and photographs inspired us to look for other surviving trails.
And then, perhaps after reading one too many books on Tibetan mysticism, Ed dreamed he saw the sacred mountain of Kawaluori turn red. So that was that.