Every two weeks when they return to their remote home village of Atuleer from their boarding school, 15 Chinese children ranging in age from 6 to 15 years old must make a terrifying climb, more than 2,500 feet up a series of bamboo ladders attached to a sheer cliff face. Pictures of the climb made the rounds this week and got quite a bit of attention, the AP reports, and now the local government is planning to install a set of stairs. Currently, the ladder system is the only way to access the village; officials say the stairs will be a temporary fix while a more permanent solution is pondered.
The Guardian describes the ladders as "rickety" and says the children must also "claw their way over bare rocks" during the trek, which takes 90 minutes. The Beijing News photographer who took the pictures now getting attention says he was "shocked by the scene I saw in front of me" and wanted to bring attention to the village's "painful reality." The journey to the village is "very dangerous," he tells the Guardian. "You have to be 100% careful. If you have any kind of accident, you will fall straight into the abyss." Another reporter was later said to have started crying when she realized there was no other way to reach the village, and the village chief says several villagers have fallen to their deaths.