Chionophobia. The fear of snow.
As I take my very first step on The Great Wall of China, the blistering cold hits me. I’m walking on Badaling, the most visited section of China’s most iconic monument.
I adjust my scarf, tighten my jacket, and take another step. Slipping back to where I started, my hands desperately reach for the side. How the hell did the Chinese build a wall this steep?
My lips start trembling and my eyes move to the ground. Snow; nothing but snow. I feel my heart hammering against my ribs. How did I end up in this place?
Blackness appears before my eyes.
Make it stop.
A last step.
Just like that my feet remain rooted to the spot, unwilling to move another inch. Tears streaming down my face, I announce to my friends that I can go no further and wave them goodbye as they walk up the slippery stairs towards the first watchtower.
Well, here I am.
All by myself on the Great Wall of China.
As I try my best to eradicate all flashbacks of my snowboarding accident, hell-bent on pulling myself together again, two Chinese people descend the stairs. They ask if I’m okay. At least, that’s what I think they ask. Between me not speaking Chinese and them not speaking English, communicating with each other was no easy task.
But they keep me company and we attempt to get to know each other. With no real success, I must admit. Our failed efforts at conversation do make for quite a few laughs, though. And as of today, I am still incredibly thankful for their kindness and willingness to kill some time with a complete stranger on a frosty, treacherous Great Wall of Snow.
Time passes, and while I come back to my senses with the help of my newfound Chinese companions, my other friends return. But I notice something odd. Instead of walking down the steep hills, they are sliding.
“Oy Lisa, we invented a new Winter Olympics discipline: Great Wall sliding! Wanna join?”
Hesitant to try it at first, I consider my friends’ crazy idea. Gliding down the treacherous slippery parts of the Wall I had managed to climb does seem safer than walking. So I nod, and when I sit down, my friend Karen announces: “These are the Winter Olympics.”
Ready, set, go.
My head empties, and for just a minute the cold disappears. Out of the corner of my eyes, I see that my friends have already begun hustling down, and my body reacts on its own. I slide down, rushing to get my ass down in front of the others. Snow pops up all around me, but it does not matter. The only thing that does is the ensuing laughter.
There we were… using one of China’s finest monuments, its Greatest Wall, as a glide, and it felt wonderful. And even though I did not win the newly invented Winter Olympics, enjoying myself in the snow did feel as a first step in conquering an annoying phobia that still haunts me to this day.
The Great Wall of China turned out to be my favorite glide, and you can definitely slide it too. In order to do so, the following things are essential:
- Visit Beijing in the winter, preferably February.
- Wait anxiously for a day where the weather is so bad that they stop sending buses to the Wall at some point.
- Go to Badaling, as the lesser known places will probably be unreachable due to the weather, and climb the Wall.
- Don’t forget to wear slippery shoes to give you an edge in the upcoming sliding battle.
- Glide, laugh, and have a friend film it.
Then again, if you are a chionophobic as me, climbing the Great Wall of China might be a hard first step towards the joy of gliding it.
Have you ever been afraid on one of your trips? What happened?
MEOW MEOW, READ THIS NEXT:
LIKE IT? PIN IT!