China's Climbing Spiderwoman Article

© Christopher Cherry/BBC Capital

A recent news piece on BBC Capital shared the story of Luo Dengping, otherwise known as 'China's Spiderwoman.' Scottish photographer and filmmaker Christopher Cherry lives and works in Beijing and travelled to the sport climbing hotspot of Getu valley in Guizhou province to document Miss Luo's extraordinary line of work.

Luo Dengping  © Christopher Cherry/BBC Capital
Luo Dengping
© Christopher Cherry/BBC Capital

Miss Luo is a member of the Miao minority group, for whom climbing has been a cultural custom and a means of survival for centuries. Initially, members of the Miao group soloed up the limestone cliffs to lay the coffins of their deceased relatives to rest. Later, the group collected herbs to sell as medicines and gathered swallow dung for fertilizer. However, the income generated from this ancient practice has dwindled over time, as Western medicine gradually takes precedence over traditional Chinese medicine.

In a modern twist, today's climbers of the group have been hired by the local tourist board and now earn their income by performing climbing displays for tourists, which has proved more fruitful than their previous occupation and allows locals to earn a living in their home village instead of moving to a city.

'They said this was only for boys. But I think men and women are equal, so I came here to learn.'

Read the article and watch the video on BBC Capital here.
Read about Getu's sport climbing in our UKC destination guide.

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18 Oct, 2017
And here I am fumbling about trying to place gear every few metres...
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