Remember the picture of the hiking route that consisted of planks bolted into a Chinese cliffside with chains for hand holds? Well, an industrious Web surfer tracked down a bunch more pictures and a written account by an American, who went up there with his wife a few years back. It’s a turn-by-turn account of soldiering on despite the condition of being scared shitless. On the way back, this happens:

As far as we were concerned, the worst was over. Let it snow.

We were now on the original Staircase of Suicide. The cable car station was just a couple hundred yards away. The end was in sight. Suddenly something happened that I will never forget for the rest of my life.

About fifteen yards in front of me, a Chinese man was walking carelessly along a relatively flat portion of the walkway. I had noticed he wasn’t even holding the metal chain. Without any warning, he suddenly lost his footing, slipped and fell.

With only a few thin pine trees on the snowy slope separating him from a 600-foot drop off a sheer cliff, he reached back with one had to grab onto the safety chain just as his feet slid under it. If he had missed the chain or his grip broke, the pine trees would be his last chance. But he held tight and broke his momentum. Slowly he pulled himself back to his feet.

Laura and I were too stunned to even move. Only a lucky last second grab of the chain had saved him. This guy had missed death by a hair. Before I could even muster a breath, he turned straight around and looked at me. In perfect English, he calmly said to me, “It’s very dangerous here. You should be careful.”

The whole thing’s a rather long read — bookmark it and set aside for when you’ve got some time to take it all in.

Thanks to intrepid reader Cynthia for sending this one along.