Acrophobia – better known as the fear of heights – is common. When I recently went on a rollercoaster on a pier, I found my stomach churning as I looked down as the waves thrashing below me, but I wouldn’t say that it’s a fear I experience often.
The higher up a person is, the more likely it is that they will experience acrophobia and sensations associated with vertigo. This is something which the Chinese tourist board have capitalized on, and now countless see-through glass walkways have been erected around the country. But a glass walkway on the East Taiheng Mountains has taken the nation’s love of frightening walkways to a whole new and much more terrifying height. It has glass panels which appear to crack at a height of 3,800 feet. For acrophobics, it is the stuff of nightmares. The ‘cracking’ is achieved using sensors and special effects which make the floor look and sound like it has suddenly shattered as tourists walk over it. The bizarre feature was added to the see-through walkway to make visitors’ experiences more exciting. Given that the thought of falling from a considerable height has caused people to have heart and panic attacks in the past, it is not an attraction for the faint-hearted, and this was proven by the reaction of one tour guide to the spontaneously shattering floor. The guide’s reaction was posted by People’s Daily Online in a 10-second-long Twitter video, which shows the guide fear for his life as cracks appear in the glass-bottom floor. Like any reasonable person, he falls to the ground and begins to scream in terror. The tour guide had been leading a group across the walkway, but when they see his terrified reaction they immediately become frozen to the spot and look on in horror as their flailing guide appears to be moments away from meeting his fate. Measuring 872 ft long and 6.6 ft wide, the East Taiheng Glasswalk can be found in the Hebei Province. An infrared sensor on the walkway detects movement in the ‘cracking zone’, and this is what triggers the terrifying effect on the glass. “The cracks will follow your steps wherever you go. You will hear the cracking sound even you walk blindfolded,” its creators revealed. After the footage of cracking glass terrifying the tour guide incited outrage around the world, the East Taihang district administration issued an official apology. It explained that the cracking was simply an “effect” that was designed to be “provocative”, but it has been dubbed a bizarre publicity stunt. Its makers said that although they were “very sorry that people got frightened”, but that they have no intention of replacing the panels with normal ones that won’t induce further visitors into a state of blind panic, believing that others visit the walkway to experience it. This is the video of the tour guide which has, for obvious reasons, now gone viral. We can only hope that those who suffer from severe acrophobia wouldn’t be willing to get onto the 3,800 feet glass walkway anyway. Any acrophobics who decide to walk across this walkway in an attempt to conquer their fear would be left afraid of heights for life… That, or they could end up dying from a heart attack.