The day I nearly killed myself
‘Now, that’s a LOVELY name for a blog’
But I DID actually nearly kill myself out of letting shear fear take over! I always thought I was O-K with heights; it turns out I was wrong!
‘I’m not afraid of heights, I’m just afraid of falling’ – Quote Emma – Pre Hua shan! The day i nearly killed myself
I’m not sure why I thought for years that it was a perfect dichotomy. Perhaps I was trying to convince myself that I was tougher than I am. My first attempt at the plank walk certainly put me straight and these blogs are about being honest, so here it goes!
We had made our way to the infamous plank walk on China’s most dangerous mountain, Hua Shan. I strolled confidently along the railed mountain path that hosts more than a 7000 foot drop, paid my 30 RMB (3 GBP / 5 USD) and grabbed a harness.
That was the first red flag.
The harness was frayed to the point of pointless. As I inspected the array of would be harnesses it appeared to be a choice out threadbare of a sticky carabina. I could feel the voices of my avid climber friends from Sheffield reminding that this is something you don’t scrimp on! But there was no other choice and harnesses are for when you get it wrong; I’ll just have to not get it wrong…
Sort of harnessed up, I edged my way over to the gap in the rock that leads to the vertical make shift metal ladder down the cliff side. As I placed my hand on the first metal bar I felt it shift from within the wall I was relying on it remaining attached to. GULP.
Bar by bar I edge my way down, not quite brave enough to look at the view yet. China being China, the ordeal is made more intense by sharing these rickety bars with a dozen Chinese people who somehow seem less scared of dying. Just as I could feel a very slight subside in my fear, I found myself on a section where a bar simple protrudes out the cliff face and from what I could gather there was nothing else to reach out for.
That was it.
My foot began to shake rapidly, which caused me to jerk all over. Instead of mind over matter, my mind sprung to the poor excuse for a harness. Palpitations kicked in and I was sure I was actually going to hurtle myself off the side.
I couldn’t get a grip.
Pride out the window, I whimpered to Pete the words that I never want to utter ‘I can’t do it’.
Now I was stuck, my foot was shaking too much to go up or down. The realisation of this brought on more fear, more palpations, more shaking and the reality check that there was no chance of rescue in China.
Precariously perched on a bar overhanging a 7000 foot drop that made the occasional breeze feel more like a hurricane I whimpered to Pete again that I really couldn’t do it.
Though his voice soothed and encouraged me, I couldn’t shake the shear fear of falling to my death.
As Pete assured me and made me aware that there was a foothold carved into the rock face I edged towards it, certain my shaking foot would slip and the harness would fail.
My foot did slip.
The fear was blinding.
But, you know I survived, otherwise this would be an obituary.
Thanks to my Dad always drilling in ‘ the rule of three’ growing up, I was still hanging onto something else and in the blur, Pete had somehow moved close enough to me to guide me in to a place of safety.
It turns out, that in my blinding fear I couldn’t see that I was a shuffle away from a series of footholds carved into the rock. As I followed them round I found myself two feet strong on the infamous plank walk! … and that was the easy bit!
The fear dispersed and I was left to what felt like the sturdiest darn plank I had ever stepped foot on!
So we wondered up and down and enjoyed the spectacular views.
Embarrassingly, the journey back up was actually quite easy.
On the way down, shear fear had made me think the only way down was those precarious poles, which had blinded me to the stone footholds.
Sometimes fear can stop us from seeing a perfect solution that is closer than we realise.
So could YOU do the plank walk? Probably. Just make sure you go the right way!!!
The day i nearly killed mysel