Rock climbers rescale heights of sat­is­fac­tion as tourists re­turn

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE -

GUIYANG — This year was the first time in more than a decade that 40-year-old Luo Deng­ping, from the Miao eth­nic group in Guizhou prov­ince, had not rock climbed for tourists.

“We did not per­form from Fe­bru­ary to April, be­cause of the COVID-19 pan­demic and some re­con­struc­tion work in this scenic area,” Luo says.

Luo lives in a small vil­lage lo­cated at the gate of the Getu River Scenic Spot. She works there and her job is to per­form rock climb­ing for tourists.

To the Miao peo­ple in this area, some­one who is good at rock climb­ing is known as a “spi­der-man” or “spi­der-woman”. It was a tra­di­tion that when the Miao peo­ple’s an­ces­tors died, their coffins were car­ried and placed onto cliffs or rock walls in caves and the peo­ple who did the work passed on the climb­ing skills to the next gen­er­a­tion.

Luo’s fa­ther is an ex­cel­lent climber who taught Luo the skills re­quired. “When I was a child, I was ob­sessed with this sport. Ev­ery time I saw my fa­ther prac­tice it, I begged him to teach me, but he re­fused, un­til he once found that I climbed up a rock wall sneak­ily fol­low­ing his steps,” Luo says.

“It’s risky. We climb just with our hands and that is why my fa­ther was re­luc­tant to teach me at the be­gin­ning,” Luo adds. “This sport needs courage, and ev­ery time we climb, we must as­sess the sur­round­ings and our body con­di­tion.”

Climb ac­cord­ing to one’s abil­ity while be­ing bold and care­ful is the key piece of advice Luo learned from her fa­ther. She grad­u­ally turned pro­fes­sional and was hired as a spi­der-woman by the lo­cal au­thor­ity.

In ad­di­tion to Luo, five spi­der-men were hired. They per­form in a cave where tens of thou­sands of swal­lows nest. Firstly, they need to row a bam­boo raft into the cave. Then they climb the rock walls up to a height of around 100 me­ters.

After that, they re­turn to the start­ing point. The whole process takes no more than 20 min­utes.

“I feel happy when I see peo­ple en­joy the process,” Luo says. She re­ceives a salary of $420 per month.

But things changed after the pan­demic. The scenic spot post­poned re­open­ing for al­most a month, and the re­con­struc­tion work cut off ac­cess to the cave. It lasted for three months.

It’s risky ... This sport needs courage, and ev­ery time we climb, we must as­sess the sur­round­ings and our body con­di­tion.” Luo Deng­ping, Miao eth­nic group “spi­der-woman”

“When you get used to per­form­ing for the tourists, you feel un­com­fort­able not do­ing it for three months,” says Huang Xiaobao, a 58-year-old spi­der­man, adding that, in or­der to keep in shape, they oc­ca­sion­ally prac­ticed rock climb­ing after fin­ish­ing their tem­po­rary clean­ing work.

“I am get­ting old and I hope to see more peo­ple par­tic­i­pate in it,” Huang adds. “Life is un­pre­dictable just like this pan­demic, what peo­ple should do is to take time to do what they like.”

Li Wen­song, deputy gen­eral man­ager of the com­pany run­ning the scenic spot, says that the area will at­tract more tourists after the re­con­struc­tion work is fin­ished, which will give rise to a surge in in­ter­est in rock climb­ing.

“In the end, the pan­demic will dis­ap­pear. I am look­ing for­ward to see­ing the sport be­come more pop­u­lar along with the developmen­t of this scenic spot,” Luo says.


Luo Deng­ping, 40-year-old “spi­der-woman” of the Miao eth­nic group, per­forms rock climb­ing for tourists at Getu River Scenic Spot in Guizhou prov­ince.

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