The "Heavenly Ladder"

By Simatai Great Wall

Winter snowscape of Simatai Great Wall ladder (2021-02-11) by Wu QiangSimatai Great Wall

What is a "Heavenly Ladder"?

The "Heavenly Ladder" is one of the representative places at the Simatai Great Wall. From a distance, it looks like a thumb pointing up to the blue sky. The side wall here is like a ladder leading to the Heavenly Palace, hence the name "Heavenly Ladder".

The Ladder is actually a single-sided stone wall, with a battle wall inside, south of which are numerous steps along the mountain terrain, with an inclination angle of 80 degrees. It is very dangerous, unless moving slowly with both hands and feet holding onto it tightly, one would be in danger of falling off the cliff.

Snowscape and sea of clouds of Simatai Great Wall ladder (2021-03-20) by Wu QiangSimatai Great Wall

Legend of the "Heavenly Ladder"

Legend has it that the section from the Heavenly Ladder to the Wangjing Tower was not part of the construction plan when it was first built, as the towering cliffs were impossible for ordinary people to go through. Then why was this section of the Great Wall finally built?

It is said that once the royal court sent an official to Simatai Grea Wall for inspection. He climbed up the wall from east to west, and was not satisfied with the eastern part of the wall.

The official said, "The section looks like a dragon with no head. The border wall should be rebuilt further east to the mountain beam", while pointing to what we today know as the Wangjing Tower.

Snowscape of Simatai Great Wall ladder (2021-03-19) by Wu QiangSimatai Great Wall

After the official left, General Qi hurriedly called upon the soldiers to brainstorm for a solution and finally found a way. In such harsh conditions, the soldiers made flexible use of the original construction plan according to the actual terrain.

A few months later,  ladder-shaped structures were built in the steep and narrow back of the ridge, which were convenient for the soldiers to walk on. They also built stone walls outside the ladder to ensure the safety of soldiers.

Winter snowscape and sea of clouds of Simatai Great Wall ladder (2021-03-20) by Wu QiangSimatai Great Wall

At the "Sky Bridge" , they simply built a towering stone wall of about 40 cm in width. This arduous project was finally completed. The Great Wall and the mountain were perfectly integrated into one being, with the Great Wall running headlong into the clouds along the ridge, multiplying its spirituality. 

Later on, the official from the royal court came to inspect again and praised the soldiers for their smart application of the principle of "making the best of the situation and building fortresses amid danger".

Snowscape of Simatai Great Wall ladder (2021-03-11) by Wu QiangSimatai Great Wall

“Building fortresses amid danger" reflects General Qi's meticulous attitude towards military affairs and his efforts to improve the defense system in order to keep the enemy out of the Great Wall. 

Credits: All media
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