First person

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 June, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 June, 2003, 12:00am

Fred Yeung Fuk-yee, 30, is a professional rock climber and outdoor activities instructor

'I started hiking when I was teenager. I hiked around the mountains all over the New Territories whenever I had free time during my secondary school years. I like the outdoors and the feeling of being surrounded by trees, mountains and water.

After graduating, I went to the University of Hong Kong to study comparative literature. That's when I started to learn rock climbing. At the university, there is an artificial climbing wall, which foreign lecturers had requested for their use.

The facility could also be used by students in a classroom setting, but we could not get access to it at any other time. I demanded to know why.

The administration explained that there had to be a climbing instructor present in order for the students to use the equipment in their own time. No student was a certified trainer, so I decided to get that certification myself.

I just had the desire to allow other students to enjoy rock climbing.

By the time I got the certification, I had already graduated and obtained a job teaching Chinese liberal arts at a secondary school. Still, I went back to the university three nights a week because I was the only one who was allowed to book the facility. I wanted to make sure that other students who wanted to climb had the opportunity.

My career in teaching took a turn when I read in a magazine one day that there was a company inspecting the Tsing Ma Bridge using climbing equipment. The work intrigued me. I had always loved jumping up and down. I thought that this was the type of work that I'd want to do. So I wrote a letter to the company, which comprised a group of foreigners.

I told them I was a climber and was interested in working for them. They called me for an interview at the Tsing Ma Bridge.

We went to the highest part and took the elevators to the top, about 200 metres from the ground. From there, they told me to abseil down the bridge.

This was not the sort of job interview I had imagined. I was nervous of course, but I just followed their instructions and kept my mind clear. I abseiled halfway down and did what I had to to get back up.

That got me the job.

However, before long the government banned rope-access work, claiming that it was dangerous. Their grounds were quite unreasonable actually, because they were banning a different old-fashioned type of equipment, but since our work also had to do with ropes, they banned it as well.

Then, I formed a company to teach people rock climbing. I organise small trips to go canyoning - abseiling down a waterfall.

Usually I'll bring a small group of four or five people. We go in a helicopter to reach the top of the waterfall. No experience is required and it costs about $1,000 per person.'