The Chinese Mountain Climbers

The Climbers is a 2019 Chinese blockbuster adventure film based on the real-life events happened in the mid last century. The film is produced by Shanghai Film Group Corp, starring Wu Jing, the guy who played a pivotal role in securing the success of China’s first sci-fi movie The Wandering Earth.

An awesome and hellish looking Mount Everest

Mount Everest is the highest mountain on the planet, located along the border between China and Nepal and the dividing line runs across its summit point, with the gentle southern slope belonging to Nepal and steep northern side to China.

In 1953, two climbers, one from Nepal and another from New Zealand became the first men scaled the Everest from the southern side. Yet, the attempts to reach the peak from the steep Chinese side failed. Until 1960.

In February 1960, a Chinese Mountaineering Team was created. 

50 men were received strenuous training but only half passed the final test.

In May, 13 men were eventually selected to form the Everest Climbing Commando. Yet when they nearly reached the Second Platform at 8680m above sea level, just five men left; and among the five, the team leader Xu Jing (许竞) became quite sick.

Wang Fuzhou (王福州) thus was appointed as the new leader and led the team of four, consisted of Liu Lianman (刘连满), Qu Yinhua (屈银华) and Gong Bu (贡布), to cover the last few hundred meters of distance.

The four members of the China Everest Climbing Commando

After four failed attempts to climb onto the Second Platform, Liu Lianman offered to turn his body into a human ladder for a teammate to step on.

Since the climbing boots have long and sharp nails on the bottom, Qu Yinhua removed his shoes and eventually slippery duck & down socks and climbed onto the Second Platform nearly barefooted in a temperature below minus 30 degrees. His feet were eventually amputated.

When the entire team scaled the Second Platform, Liu Lianman, the human ladder, broke down and could not continue the journey to the summit that was just about 150 metres away. He never got a chance to stand on the world’s roof again in the rest of his life.

Now there were only three men left and the three eventually climbed to the peak at 4:20am on May 25, 1960.

They left a national flag and Chairman Mao’s portrait in a secure place on the site yet was unable to take photos since it was the darkest hour of the day.

The three became the first Chinese to reach the top of the world and the first men did so from the northern slope.

The three men who scaled the Mount Everest in 1960

On May 30, 1960, Everest Climbing Commando returned to the base camp

The First Climbers Who Scaled the World’s Highest Peak from the Steep Northern Side

Wu Jing (吴京) plays a leading role in the film The Climbers as Fang Wuzhou (方五洲, for Wang Fuzhou 王富洲) who reached the peak of Mount Everest from the northern slope twice, in 1960 and 1975 respectively. 

However, since the absence of the video evidence, for decades, the Chinese team’s climbing success was not recognised by international organisations.

So in 1975 when China was still in the Cultural Revolution but in fact an open reform aiming to achieve Four Modernisations had already begun orderly since 1974, a new China Mountaineering Team was formed which included female climbers.

Photo 1957: China Mountaineering Team climbing Mount Everest from the northern slope

 Photo 1957: China Mountaineering Team climbing Mount Everest from the northern slope

Photo 1957: China Mountaineering Team using a ladder to cross a gap on Mount Everest from the northern slope

 Photo 1957: China Mountaineering Team jumping across a gap on Mount Everest

 Photo 1957: China Mountaineering Team scaling a steep slope on Mount Everest

 Photo 1957: China Mountaineering Team scaling a steep slope on Mount Everest

A scene from the 2019 movie The Climbers: The journey to the top of the world

A scene from the 2019 movie The Climbers: the climbers crossing a gorge on Mount Everest

A scene from the 2019 movie The Climbers: the team crossing a gorge on Mount Everest

A scene from the 2019 movie The Climbers: the team fleeing from an avalanche. 

A scene from the 2019 movie The Climbers: the climbers encountered a massive avalanche. 

Photo: the peak of Mount Everest

Photo: Climbing to the Second Platform

Photo: The final steps by the ladder

Photo: Mission accomplished. 

On May 27, 1975, nine Chinese climbers successfully reached the summit, once again from the northern slope, and one of them is a 36-year-old mother of three.

The Chinese Climbers Who Sacrificed Their Personal Success for the Triumphant of the Team

Zhang Yi (张译) in the movie The Climber. 

It was not just the 11 men and a woman who reached the peak being heroes; those who didn’t make it are also heroic.

Liu Lianman who volunteered to be a human ladder that resulted in him not being able to climb to the summit is the greatest hero in his team as he has crossed the mountain that obstructs a man to reach his fellow human beings and beyond.

A Legless Chinese Climber Who Spent 43 Years to Arrive at the Top of the World

Hu Ge (胡歌), the leading actor in the most acclaimed 2015 Chinese TV drama Nirvana in Fire and the leading actor in 2019 Chinese crime film The Wild Goose Lake which was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival, plays the role as Yang Guang (杨光), based on the legendary mountaineer Xia Boyu (夏伯瑜), in the 2019 movie The Climber. 

Xia Boyu was a member of the 1975 China Mountaineering Team. When the team spent a night at 8,200m height, he kindly offered his sleeping bag to a member who lost his belongings. Next day, however, after returned to the base camp, he found he was unable to stand up on his own feet; and he never did. Both his legs were later amputated from the knees.

By then he was 26.

Although he lost his legs, he has never lost his aspiration to conquer Mount Everest.

Since then, he began his four decades of hard training at home, in training facilities and on the real mountains.

In 2014 at the age of 65, Xia Boyu returned to Mount Everest. But a massive avalanche hit. Scores died smashed his dream. Fortunately, he survived.

A year later, he made a second attempt, and this time he was greeted with a deadly earthquake. Luckily, he escaped the disaster.

In 2016, he turned to the mountain. This time he climbed so high that he was just 94 metres from the roof of the planet.

Then suddenly a snowstorm hit.

He was 67 and was a double amputee. He worked hard and waited patiently for over 40 years, now his dream was just in arm’s length. Yet, for a man who left the chance of survival to a teammate 41 years ago would not want to risk his local guards’ life for chasing his own dream, so once again, he called off the adventure.

But he still didn’t give up.

Finally at the age of 69, on May 14, 2018, he became the first amputee to step on the summit of Mt Everest.

Xia Boyu at a Chinese TV interview

At the end of the movie The Climber, Jackie Chan appeared as the ageing Yang Guang on his quest to conquer the Everest.

The Climbers, an impressive and inspiring Chinese film was released at the end of September 2019.

Your life is your dream. Every dream will become true, sooner or later.

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