One Great Workout

May 14, 2011 5 Comments by

The Great Wall: the ultimate symbol of China. I elected to go to the Jinshaling section, a relatively unrestored bit 4 hours from Beijing. Since it’s the furthest away from Beijing it also has the least tourists making for a better climb. Of course I should have thought about the 5am wake-up call for the bus when I was out the night before at an irish pub. Whoops. Needless to say, it was a rough morning and I was glad for the 4 hour bus ride to recover from my hangover.

I manged to pick a fairly good weather day, nice and sunny and not too hot. Only downside was the wind, which was slightly ridiculous. It was blowing so badly you couldn’t take the cable cars up to the wall itself, you needed to hike up to it. I had been planning on that all along, why come all this way just to take a car up? However I didn’t realize that huge sections of this wall had no protective sidewalls. And when that wind kicked up I was totally freaked out that I would fly right off the edge.

I met a british couple on the bus and we teamed up to attack this section of the wall. And it was an attack. One of the great things about the Jishaling section is the fact that it’s unrestored but that’s also one of it’s downfalls. There are whole parts where the steps have crumbled away and you’re pulling yourself up by your hands. Or there are no more paving stones and you’re sliding down embankments in the dust. And I honestly have no idea how the chinese managed to walk along this thing.

Firstly, the steps are HUGE! I mean at least a foot and a half tall. And they were midgets back then. Secondly, there are parts where it’s so amazingly steep but it has no steps. It’s just smooth stone. It was actually nice that it was falling apart because then it had cracked stones to use for foot and handholds. When it was freshly built I don’t know how you would have climbed it.

My two climbing companions made it about 3/4 of the way before turning back. The end of the wall, the Simatai section, was closed for renovations. So the whole time you were walking you had to keep in mind that you would have to return the way you came. And mainly it made you think of the huge straight-uphill sections that would be a freefall on the way back. My new friend was afraid of heights and finally decided she couldn’t go any farther and still make it back. I continued on alone determined to make it to the end. And possibly further.

At the end of the Jishaling section I encountered a problem. Or rather the two german girls in front of me found it first. To close off the Simatai section of the wall, they had REMOVED the stepping stones into each guard house. While some enterprising soul had piled up some small stones so that you could still enter the last guard post, the drop on the other side was over 8 feet. And a dirt slide at the bottom. Not to be undeterred the german’s climbed down the side like monkeys. The look on their faces when I asked how they planned on getting back INTO the guard house was comical. They stood around discussing it for some time before caving and having me help them back. We then set out on the 2 hour hike back to base.

Climbing back down was far more difficult than the hike up and I almost went right off the edge many times. I finally resorted to sliding down on my ass part of the way, having no idea how to get back down. It was hysterical to the chinese high school group at the bottom and they took photos the whole time. My quads were burning and my legs were jelly by the time I reached the starting point but it was so amazing!

Some of the best shots of the day (and I took a ton):


About the author

One die-hard Mac Geek set on traveling the globe.

5 Responses to “One Great Workout”

  1. Mom says:

    WOWWWW!!! what a tale!!! the things you are seeing & doing!!

  2. Drew says:

    Oh that is amazing…I love climbing around in ruins.

    • Heather says:

      Yeah I knew if you had been there, you’d have just scaled the wall and run away from the guards. :)

  3. Claire says:

    Dude. So Cool!!!

  4. Ali says:

    Waaaay cool Heather! Gorgeous pics too!

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