China’s cliff-climbing ‘spiderwoman’
A traditional practice – where fearless climbers scale sheer cliff faces – reflects change in China.
By Christopher Cherry
Luo Dengping goes by another name: China’s spiderwoman.
She has earned the moniker by scaling the towering cliffs of Guizhou province – with no harness or ropes – a traditional practice of the Miao minority group dating back centuries.
Climbers had used these skills to collect swallow dung for fertilizer and herbs to sell as medicine. But as Western medicine grows in popularity, climbers can no longer make money selling herbs.
Instead, they are hired by the local tourist board to show off their climbing skills to tourists – which they say brings in more money and saves them from moving to the cities to look for work.