Safety call for climbers
Steps are being taken to shake up mountaineering in China in the wake of two recent disastrous climbs.
"Lao K" and Lu Zhongrong died climbing Mount Siguniang in Southwest China's Sichuan Province on December 30.
Eighteen Beijing mountaineers were reported missing on Mount Xiaowutai in North China's Hebei Province on January 4. They were luckier, being picked up a day later.
"I can say that 99 per cent of climbers do not have enough professional knowledge," Wang Xin, director with the outdoor activities office under the Beijing Mountaineering Association, said.
Basic mountain knowledge, mental and physical training and good equipment should all be included, he said.
Wang estimated that Beijing alone has some 1.5 million outdoor activity enthusiasts, who climb mountains almost once a week.
The number is expected to increase by 50 per cent year-on-year.
Seeing this growing trend, Wang emphasized the importance of team leaders.
"A qualified team leader should know how to assess risk," Wang said, echoed by Zhang Zhijian with the Chinese Mountaineering Association.
Zhang said team leaders are crucial in completing mountaineering missions, especially for those leading teams up mountains more than 3,500 metres high, and should have professional certificates issued by the State to verify their competence.
The Beijing Mountaineering Association is considering launching a team leader training programme for 30 people on January 20.
They will be certified by the Beijing Sports Bureau and the association.
He said that ideally there should be one qualified leader to every 10 climbers.
Zhang is making an effort to solve the mountaineering administration barrier by proposing to the General Administration of Sport that the pastime is re-defined as a sport instead of tourism.