Chinese ice climbers typify outdoor sports boom

Tue Feb 8, 2011 11:50pm EST
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By Maxim Duncan

BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - Dozens of Chinese climbing enthusiasts scaled huge, frozen waterfalls in rural Beijing, taking part in a competition showcasing the rapid rise in popularity of outdoor sports.

With white collar workers in the world's most populous nation looking for more adventurous ways to spend their time and money, climbing is fast taking root alongside activities such as running and hiking.

Much of China is covered by mountains, from the misty landscapes of traditional paintings to the towering Himalayas, and the country shares Mt. Everest, the world's highest peak, with neighbouring Nepal. But until recently, the peaks went unexplored by Chinese.

"At this moment in China, there are more and more training companies and clubs that organize people to take part in this kind of mountaineering activity, so more and more people are taking part," said Ma Qiang, an IT worker competing in the climbing contest.

"So I think in the future, China will produce a lot of highly-skilled climbers who will attempt high mountains along with all the foreigners."

About one hundred people took part on Tuesday in the two-day competition, which culminated in climbs on two separate frozen waterfalls at Heilongtan, Black Dragon Pool.

On one waterfall, over 100 meters (yards) and melting rapidly, climbers competed to be fastest to the top. On the other, they were tested on their ability to maneuver through holes and perilous overhangs.

Male participants outnumbered female by four to one, but copyright worker Wang Changying urged more women to take part, citing many pluses from the rigorous exercise.   Continued...