$2.2 million installation on Chinese mountain proves divisive: 'What's the point?'

Images of a giant escalator at a popular tourist site have well and truly divided public opinion.

A stunning view is often the reward after a gruelling hike. But for visitors to one popular Chinese mountain, heavy legs won't be an issue at the summit.

That's because tourism bosses have installed escalators taking hordes of people to the top of Tianyu Mountain in Zhejiang province. Video of the escalators went viral this week and while Chinese state media says the installation has been a resounding hit, online discussion proved far more divided.

"Can you still call that a mountain climb?" one person on Chinese social platform Weibo questioned. "So what’s the point of climbing the mountain? I think that joy has gone,” another said.

The trip to the top has now been described as 'painless'. Source: Weibo
The trip to the top has now been described as 'painless'. Source: Weibo

"You can install a cable car but an escalator is too far," one argued while others said the escalators destroyed the natural beauty of the location.

Several terms related to the escalators began trending on Weibo, with "painless mountain climbing" gaining widespread traction.

Those in support of the installation said it was a great opportunity for anyone with health issues, or in particular bad knees, to enjoy the climb without problems.

"It's always good to support everyone," one person wrote. Others pointed out paths for hikers remain, so those who wish to hike still can.

Escalators alleviate congestion problems, worker says

"The original purpose for us to build this elevator is to solve the traffic problem in climbing the mountain," said a worker said, according to China Daily.

"In the beginning, we considered building a cableway. However, given cableway's limited transportation capability and high security risk, escalator is relatively safer and has a high transportation capability."

The escalators are 350 metres in length. Source: Weibo
The escalators are 350 metres in length. Source: Weibo

The escalators, which opened last year at a cost of $2.2 million, span 350 metres and cost 30 yuan ($6.50) to use. It has reduced the time to the summit from 50 minutes to just 10 however the worker noted visitors are required to do some climbing to reach the top.

Help to the top of famous tourist attractions is nothing new. Hong Kong's The Peak, which offers remarkable views of the surrounding skyscrapers, has long been serviced by a tram, with street escalators also used to navigate a busy section of Hong Kong Island. Tianmen Mountain in China's Zhangjiajie, which inspired the setting for the movie Avatar, has a steep cable car which takes tourists to and from its peak.

Love Australia's weird and wonderful environment? Get our new weekly newsletter showcasing the week’s best stories.

Banner reads 'What on Earth' with 'Subscribe to our new weekly newsletter' and a collage of images of australian natural wildlife.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter.