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A round peg in a world of square holes...

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Acrophobia III

Believe it or not, people actually pay to do this.

Here, tourists are climbing up the 7088 ft (2160 m) South Peak of Huashan, located 75 miles east of Xi'an, in the Shaanxi province of China.

"Wait a minute, that doesn't look too bad. The final 900 ft (274 m) of the trail to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite is steeper," you say. Ah, but wait. It gets better.

Those aren't benches. That's the walkway.

The narrow pass, which is the plank road, is built along the cliff leading to the East Peak. The road is no more than 0.3 meters (about 1 foot) wide and runs above a very deep gorge. The stout hearted can travel this road by hanging on to a chain that is attached to the face of the cliff.

Yep, "cliff."

One of the Taoist shrines on top of Huashan.

Brass locks are used to join the rusty chain links together, as well as secure them to the anchor points. (Notice the twisted shackles of one lock? Brrr...)

Guardrails? What guardrails?

The wrong way to rig up a safety harness. Never use the upper half of a full-body harness by itself. This lady faces a slow, agonizing death by asphyxiation if she were to slip and fall.

If you make it, there's an outhouse at the top to clean your pants. (Just remember not to lean back.)

The tourist brochure reads:

Mt. Huashan, which is famous for its egregious cliffs, mainly consists of five peaks which look like five petals of a flower. [ . . . ] South Peak, with an altitude of 2,160.5 meters (about 7,088.3 ft), is always considered to be the head of the peaks. Climbing to the top of the South Peak may greatly satisfy every climber.

At the beginning, I was chuckling to myself, thinking that the use of "egregious" an act of malapropism. Now, I'm not sure anymore :-P


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