Zhang Mingrong, a Chinese man, has been carrying Kong Yan, his disabled wife, up Shandong’s tallest mountain once a year as part of his vow to her.
Mount Taishan is one of the “Five Great Mountains” and is even considered to be the most sacred one, as emperors and even the famous philosopher, Confucius, climbed it to pay homage to heaven and earth.
When they first started dating, Kong’s adoptive family strongly disapproved of their relationship and believed that he would be a burden to their family since he was not wealthy and was taking care of his disabled mother and multiple siblings.
Kong and Zhang decided to elope and Kong chose to run away from her home at night. However, while climbing over a wall to meet Zhong, Kong slipped and injured her spine, causing her to become permanently paralysed.
Before Kong’s injury, Zhang promised Kong that they would climb Mount Taishan together and watch the sunrise. Still determined to fulfil his promise to her, Zhang carried Kong on his back while climbing Mount Taishan – as a symbol of their love’s strength and the obstacles they would endure together.
In fact, one of the hurdles that the couple faced early on was Kong’s family viewing her as a burden and agreeing to let Zhang take care of her. According to South China Morning Post, Zhang spent his entire life savings and worked multiple jobs to support his wife’s treatments.
The tradition of Zhang carrying Kong on his back with a bedsheet, “bear style”, for 12 hours began in 2017.
The couple was able to continue this tradition from 2019 until 2021. However, Zhang slipped during their hike in 2021 and injured his herniated disc, unfortunately ending their tradition.
“It may be superstition, but I think that fall was the mountain telling me not to go up there again, so our annual climb to Mount Taishan stopped,” said Zhang to South China Morning Post.
Normally, it takes 4 to 6 hours to climb Mount Taishan as there are 7,200 steps in total. Zhang’s commitment to carrying his wife on his back for 12 hours annually was definitely no easy feat.