"This is frightening" – via ferrata climbers left clinging to cliffside for over an hour due to overcrowding

Climbers on a via ferrata route
The company which manages the route says it didn't anticipate so many climbers over the holiday (Image credit: Getty)

Each year, May 1 marks Labor Day in China, a popular holiday for getting outdoors, but last week, a few too many people had the same idea, leading to congestion on a popular climbing route. A group of climbers who attempted to ascend Yandang Mountain in eastern China were reportedly left clinging to a cliffside for more than an hour due to overcrowding.

According to a CNN report, the climbers were on a via ferrata – a steep, exposed route climbed by way of a series of fixed cables, rungs, chains and ladders which make for a one-at-a-time approach – when they became held up due to congestion. Even with a climbing harness and belay device to keep you attached to the rock and prevent you from falling, that's a long time to spend pinned to a cliff.

Photographs of the human traffic jam began circulating on Xiaohongshu, known as the Chinese version of Instagram, and online commenters were quick to express their dismay.

“This is frightening! Someone like me afraid of heights might just wet myself up there!” wrote one person, while another said: "I won’t even go even if I’m offered cash to do this."

The company that manages the route, Wenzhou Dingcheng Sports Development Co., tells CNN that it didn't anticipate such large numbers of climbers.

"Due to our misjudgment of how many customers would come, the lack of effective traffic controls such as a ticket reservation system, and shortcomings in onsite management, customers were blocked and trapped on the climbing route."

The company says it has plans to implement a traffic-control system similar to those found in high-traffic routes in the US such as Angels Landing to avoid a future occurrence and has temporarily halted ticket sales in the meantime.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.