By Katharina Massi
Imagine climbing a cliff as tall as a blue whale. Now imagine climbing four times the size of that without any ropes, twice a day.
This is what Luo Denping does every single day. But most people know her as China’s own spider woman. Dengping comes from the Miao minority group, and they have been climbing in a mountainous province in southwestern China known as the Guizhou province for centuries, without any ropes. “They said this was only for boys. But I think men and women are equal, so I came here to learn.”, Dengping told BBC news. Luo asked her father to teach her how to rock climb and he told her, “Touch the rock first with your hand or foot. If you can’t touch it don’t move.” The climbers have to rely on their courage, Wang Fengzhong, 53 years old, stated. He is one of the few people that still do this.
It was a tradition to climb these cliffs and put coffins of the dead there. The Chinese villagers of Miao later climbed these cliffs to collect swallow dung for fertilizer, and herbs which can cure rheumatism and asthma. It takes them about four to five hours to find the right herbs and bring them back down. These herbs can only be found on high cliffs. The climbers sell the herbs and dung to other villagers. That is how they made their money.
Nowadays, the Chinese people use imported medicine and therefore, the climbers don’t make enough money to sell their herbs. However, many visitors come and want to see how they collect the herbs. According to BBC news, they make 900 RMB (500 dirhams) per month and for every tourist, entry costs 0.3 RMB (17 fils). The climbers realized that this is an easier way to make money. This method was almost obscure until villagers started again.
Dengping enjoys her job because she can live at home and doesn’t have to work in the city. They climb twice a day, going 100m up into the sky. She doesn’t only like it because she can do what she likes but also because the tourists show them lots of encouragement and respect. Dengping does what she loves even though she doesn’t even make a lot of money. Both Luo Dengping and Wang Fengzhong hope that more young people come here to learn the dangerous sport of rock climbing.