'Ladders of heaven' gives new path to cliff village

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Village children who live on a cliff face can now climb up and down new series of steel ladders, dubbed "ladders of heaven", to their homes, the Beijing News reports.

Children climb a steel ladder leading to the cliff village in Sichuan province on Saturday, November 19, 2016. [Photo: The Beijing News]

Children climb a steel ladder leading to the cliff village in Sichuan province on Saturday, November 19, 2016. [Photo: The Beijing News]

Before the installation of the new ladders finished earlier this month, villagers could only use 17 rattan ladders hanging off the cliff.

The village in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture of southwest China's Sichuan province is known as the "cliff village", and is about 800 meters high.

Children attending the local primary school can only go home during three school vacations and must be supervised by parents in turns.

Twenty children from the cliff village took the steel ladders for the first time on Saturday to go home from school for the Yi Ethnic New Year holiday, one of the three holidays were the children can climb home.

The rattan ladders were almost straight from the top to the bottom, but the new steel ladders were designed with an inclination of 60 degrees, making them easier to climb.

An 11-year-old child said the new ladders are more like staircases with handles, which makes him feel much safer and less worried about falling stones.

Another child said the way home has become beautiful.

Although the children still need to climb the ladders with both their hands and feet, almost all of them said that it is much safer and quicker to go home.

The new ladders shorten the time up the cliff by an hour, said Long Deshun, who was in charge of building the new ladders.

The old rattan ladders remain as they are, but are no longer used, said Long.

The cliff village drew attention in May this year as the Beijing News reported that children from the village had to take the rattan ladders to go to school.

A local official said seven or eight people had fallen to their death along the way, and many others had been injured.

Building the steel ladders started in August, using over 40 tons of steel in total. Anti-rust paint was sprayed on the ladders so that they can be used for 10 to 20 years, said Long.

In addition, a plank road is planned to be built next year in the gorge leading to the cliff village, with an estimated investment of over 35 million yuan (around 5 million USD).

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