Chinese climbers accused of damaging Mount Sanqing World Heritage Site could face five years in jail

Trio face prosecution over charges they drilled holes in granite formation

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 November, 2017, 3:03pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 November, 2017, 3:38pm

Three mountain climbers could be sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for fixing dozens of permanent bolts to a rock at a World Heritage Site, state media reported.

The Taizhou tourists are being sued for intentional damage to a cultural relic after they allegedly drilled holes in and fixed 26 bolts and hooks to a granite pillar in the Mount Sanqing National Park in Zhejiang province, according to a report published by People’s Daily on Wednesday.

They are accused of damaging the Jumang pillar, which means giant python in Chinese. The rock formation is estimated to be 300 million years old and is 128 metres tall and at its narrowest is just seven metres wide.

Citing geologists, the report claimed the climbers had “severely damaged the structure of the rock” because the cracks caused by the drilling could hasten erosion and lead to rockfalls.

Mt Sanqing was added to Unesco’s list of World Heritage Sites in 2008. It is renowned for its spectacular scenery, and rock formations as well as being a Taoist sacred site.

The three rock climbers, two men and one woman, used a drone to film the climb on April 15, the report said.

Mangers at the site reportedly tried to stop the climbers, but they ignored them and continued to make their way up the mountain.

The case was then transferred to Xinzhou district procuratorate in Shangrao for investigation. The report said the decision to prosecute the climbers had been made “recently“ without giving further details.

Ancient Chinese world heritage site faces serious threat from rock falls

The female tourist has been placed under administrative detention for seven days while the others were detained for 10 days.

The rare structure has been a challenge to many world-class rock climbers, including the urban free climber Alain Robert, nicknamed the French Spider-Man. In 2001 he was forced to abandon an attempt to climb Jumang with his bare hands, according to the report.