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7 of the World's Most Terrifying Ladders

Do heights give you an adrenaline rush? To successfully scale one of these terrifying ladders, you'll need to possess a few key traits—namely fearlessness, grit, and in a few cases, straight-up masochism—in addition to sturdy shoes (if they're even allowed).

1. THE HALF DOME CABLE ROUTE IN CALIFORNIA'S YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Hikers ascend Half Dome, the granite dome in California's Yosemite Valley, by climbing a steep cable ladder.

While climbing Half Dome—the famed granite dome at Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park, California—hikers have to watch their step while scaling the formation’s slick eastern slope. The climb’s last 400 feet takes visitors up sheer rock, with cable ladders bolted into the granite for support. Multiple individuals have died while attempting this climb during or after a storm, so make sure to only tackle it if weather conditions are dry. 

2. THE TRADITIONAL KNIFE LADDERS OF ZHONGTUAN, CHINA

miao performers on traditional knife ladder
China Photos /Getty Images

Every three years, villagers in Zhongtuan, in southeast China's Fujian Province, hold a harvest festival on the 15th day of the 10th lunar month. One traditional festival custom requires barefoot men to climb a ladder made of 36 sharpened blades, after being blessed by senior villagers. The first man to finish the treacherous climb sits on a chair at the top and hands out prizes to the others who reach the top. Meanwhile, other cultures around China reportedly have their own versions of the painful practice, including the Bai people of Yunnan Province, who climb knife ladders as a religious rite.

3. THE 'SKY LADDERS' OF ATULEER, CHINA

children climbing atuleer ladder
香港今昔, YouTube

Until recently, students in the tiny rural village of Atuleer, in China’s mountainous Sichuan province, had to climb down rickety "sky ladders"—a chain of 17 bamboo ladders affixed to a sheer, half-mile cliff—to attend a local school at the mountain’s base. In 2016, the state-run Beijing News ran a photo series of kids scaling the mountain, and reports surfaced that villagers had either died or been injured after falling from the ladders. Local government officials responded to the news by providing Atuleer’s residents with a sturdy steel ladder with handrails, which was completed in November 2016.

4. THE CHAIN LADDERS OF SOUTH AFRICA'S ROYAL NATAL NATIONAL PARK

ladder in drakensberg mountains

Hike through Royal Natal National Park in the Northern Drakensberg, in South Africa, and you might be tempted to check out one of the region's most famous natural features: a dramatic rock wall called the Amphitheater, which stretches for roughly three miles and juts more than 1600 feet into the air. For an awe-inspiring view of the formation, visitors can tackle the so-called Chain Ladder Hike, a trail featuring rickety chain ladders that leads park-goers past the Tugela River and the world's second-tallest waterfall. This course requires hikers to shimmy up a sheer cliff face, so it isn't for the faint of heart. That said, they can also opt to travel along a safer route—a gully that leads to the mountain's top.

5. THE CABLE LADDERS OF GRAND CANARIA, IN SPAIN'S CANARY ISLANDS

woman climbing via ferrata on gran canaria

When mountain adventurers who visit the island of Gran Canaria, off the coast of Africa in Spain's Canary Islands, see the via ferrate—or cabled climbing routes—located across the mountainous region, they might be reminded of the Alps or the Dolomites, where via ferrate ("iron roads" in Italian) are more common. Here they can explore the volcanic region's dramatic peaks and caves on a series of protected climbing routes. Thin, slack cables are bolted to the rock so hikers can climb hand-over-hand to reach the rugged island's highest peaks.

6. THE LADDER LEADING TO THE TOP OF THE KATSKHI PILLAR IN THE REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA

katskhi pillar in georgia

Long ago, residents of the western Georgian region of Imereti are said to have believed that the Katskhi pillar—a limestone monolith that looms more than 131 feet above the village of Katskhi—represented a fertility god. In later years, the natural pillar became a symbol of Christianity, and two churches were constructed at its top. The ancient churches were likely built between the 6th and 8th centuries CE by the Stylites, an early group of Christian ascetics who worshipped atop pillars. The sites were just recently restored by a local monk, and those brave enough to climb a steep iron ladder running from the Katskhi pillar's base to its top can visit them—and the monk who lives there—while also taking in a wider view of the surrounding countryside.

7. MOUNT HUASHAN IN CHINA

woman climbs mount huashan path

China’s Mount Huashan—an important Taoist landmark located around 75 miles from the historical capital of Xi’an—has a 7000-foot-high cliffside trail leading visitors up towards the mountain's peaks. A particularly perilous stretch between the south and east peaks features a series of wooden planks bolted to the mountain—and hikers are required to wear safety harnesses while carefully inching their way along the narrow path. At the journey's end, they can soothe their nerves by visiting a sky-high teahouse perched atop the southern peak, or relax under a pavilion to take in the view.

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This Beach That Glows in the Dark Is Completely Magical to See
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by Reader's Digest

The Maldives is world-famous for its unbelievably picturesque beaches. A simple online image search brings up images of the clearest water in the world, cloudless skies, and … glow-in-the-dark sand?

That’s right, that photo is real. No Photoshop here. Some beaches in the Maldives do light up at night, and it’s not because a visitor with no environmental conscience sprayed fluorescent paint across the sand.

The organisms responsible for this blue light are called ostracod crustaceans, also known as seed shrimp. They are generally about 1 millimeter long and can emit blue light for several seconds, sometimes for even a minute or longer, Cornell biology professor James Morin told The Huffington Post. (To compare, bioluminescent phytoplankton, another light-giving organism that lives in the water, can only shine for a moment when they collide with the beach or water.) It’s believed that these glorious (albeit unpredictable) displays are created from a mass mortality of ostracods—a sad but spectacular sight all the same.

 
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If you’ve been meaning to take a trip to the Maldives, you now have another reason to book your ticket. However, if a transoceanic vacation isn’t an option, you’re in luck. These aquatic light shows also occur in Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Belgium, and San Diego (though the blue light in San Diego is caused by bioluminescent algae).

See? You don’t have to travel out of the country to experience amazing beaches. Anyone who says differently needs to check out the 12 best beaches in America.

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This Just In
This Gorgeous Town in the Swiss Alps Wants to Pay You $25,000 to Move There
Peter P // Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
Peter P // Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

If living in a fairy tale-like village in the Swiss Alps is like something out of a dream, then getting paid to do just that might be your fantasy life come true. But that’s exactly what the tiny town of Albinen, Switzerland is proposing. As The Independent reports, the town’s residents are getting set to vote on a proposal that would pay a family of four over $70,000 to commit to spending 10 years living there, as a way to bolster the dwindling population.

New residents will be eligible for grants of approximately $25,000 per adult and $10,000 per child for two kids. There are, of course, a few stipulations: new residents must be under the age of 45 and commit to making the town their permanent residence for at least 10 years. (If they leave before the allotted time frame, they’ll have to pay the money back.) They'll also have to choose to live in a home with a minimum price of $201,000.

Currently, the village is home to about 240 people, but that number is beginning to shrink, as longtime residents have chosen to move away. According to commune president Beat Jost, the recent relocation of three families in particular led to the loss of eight pupils at the local school, which forced its closure. While jobs in the village itself aren't plentiful, Albinen is close to several larger towns. And if you're game to do a bit of traveling, Geneva's only two hours away and Zurich is just about three hours.

The hope is that the promise of some cold hard cash, which could come in handy when it comes to purchasing a home in the town, can help to reverse this trend.

In a newsletter to residents detailing the proposal, the town noted that the program would be “an investment in the village’s future.”

[h/t: The Independent]

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