School children in the Chinese Sichuan province need to climb up a via ferrata of sorts to get to school. As I watch this footage it makes me think of the Ladders of Death Via Ferrata between France and Switzerland where smugglers would transport contraband between these countries.
When I watch this footage I believe that it would be relatively easy for the Chinese government to get some European Via ferrata equipment specialists to create a via ferrata and safety gear adapted for young children. In Europe Via ferrata are equipped with “pig’s tail” metal loops through which safety ropes can be threaded. These make it possible to do via ferrata with younger children.
The drawback to via ferrata equipment is that it has certain weight requirements. They are designed for people who weigh between 50-110 kg so if you are too light the “parachute” will not be activated and this can lead to injury.
I like this video from an ethnographic and historical context because it shows us a glimpse of what the infancy of via ferrata was like. It shows us the improvised ladders, agile people climbing on exposed rock and more. We see that the youngest person is kept relatively safe by his father and a rope in case of a slip or fall.
In the news item they speak about developing tourism.Â The parents live in this remote village of 72 people because the farmland is arable. With the development of tourism the path to school could be improved and made safer. If they develop via ferrata tourism as we see in Europe, the Americas, Asia and New Zealand they could have an additional form of income. I know that I could be tempted to try this as a via ferrata if and when they re-equip it. It’s a nice way to see the landscape and a good reason to visit new places.