Last week, climbers on Yandang Mountain's via ferrata in eastern China faced a harrowing situation due to severe overcrowding. The incident, which left climbers clinging to cliffs for over an hour, occurred near Wenzhou in Zhejiang province, approximately 255 miles south of Shanghai.

Overcrowding at Yandang Mountain Traps Climbers on Via Ferrata

Climbers Cling to Cliffs as Overcrowding Grips Yandang Mountain's Via Ferrata
Tourist on Via Ferrata of Yandang Mountain
(Photo : Screenshot image taken from Travel in China on YouTube)

As hundreds gathered to ascend the mountain during the popular Labor Day holiday, the narrow climbing route quickly became congested. The via ferrata, a path with metal rungs fixed to the mountainside, is typically a safe route with climbers secured by helmets, harnesses, and safety gear. 

However, the unexpected surge in climbers led to significant delays and raised safety concerns.

Images of the ordeal spread rapidly on social media, sparking a mix of fear and criticism among viewers. According to CNN, one online commenter mentioned the terror of being stuck in such heights, while another stated they would never attempt the climb, even for money.

In response to the chaos, Wenzhou Dingcheng Sports Development Co., Ltd, which manages the route, admitted to underestimating the holiday crowd. 

The company acknowledged its oversight in not having sufficient traffic controls, such as a ticket reservation system, which contributed to the dangerous bottleneck.

Following the incident, the company announced a temporary halt to ticket sales and plans to implement a new traffic-control system to manage the flow of climbers better. 

This measure aims to prevent future occurrences of overcrowding and ensure the safety of all visitors to the scenic yet challenging Yandang Mountain.

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Overcrowding in China

Travelers to China often encounter a unique cultural approach to navigating crowds, marked by a distinct lack of personal space and an acceptance of physical contact. 

In China, it's common for locals to use elbows gently or push slightly to maneuver through crowded areas, a practice deeply rooted in the country's bustling environment.

This method of crowd navigation is evident in places like trains, buses, and metro stations, especially around ticket counters and stops. 

"Traveling here requires patience because it is so overcrowded. They feel like they must rush, push, eat fast, or they won't get where they need to go, or they won't get the food," an American residing in Shanghai describes the experience, as quoted by World Nomads.

While some visitors might find the lack of queuing and the close physical contact impolite, these actions are generally not meant to be aggressive. Instead, they are practical responses to the crowded conditions found in many parts of the country.

During peak tourist seasons, such as the Chinese New Year, overcrowding at popular sites like The Great Wall becomes even more pronounced. Tourists can mitigate some of the discomfort by visiting less crowded sections of such attractions or choosing off-peak travel times.

For those unaccustomed to the compact public spaces in China, it might help to step aside, lean against a wall, or duck into an alleyway to escape the crush. 

Adapting to the local way-by holding your ground or even pushing back gently-can also make navigating the crowds more manageable.

Read Also: 5 Destinations With Overtourism You Should Avoid on Your Travels