Hanging a whopping 120 meters (394 feet) above the ground, the two-square-meter shop replenishes climbers with drinks and light refreshments in the Shiniuzhai Scenic Area in the Chinese province of Hunan, according to a recent report by state-run English-language newspaper China Daily.
Shiniuzhai is known for its hilly landscape, which offers breathtaking views and a range of thrilling mountain-based activities. It’s also home to Haohan Qiao, or “Brave Men’s Bridge,” which, upon opening in 2015, was China’s first glass-bottomed bridge.
The name Shiniuzhai – “stone ox village” in Chinese – was inspired by one of the hills, which is shaped like the back of an ox.
The convenience store is located along an 800-meter via ferrata route. Via ferrata – Italian for “iron way” – is a pathway along a mountain that uses metal anchors and other structures that climbers can fasten themselves to as they make their way up and across challenging terrain.
The store sparked a buzz when it opened in 2018 after a year of construction. It returned to the spotlight this month following recent reports on state media, captivating Chinese social media users.
“The most inconvenient convenience store,” a popular military blogger, who has more than 889,400 fans, quipped on Chinese social network Weibo last week.
Another user joked: “It’s very demanding for the staff members.”
The journey to the top takes about 90 minutes to complete and each climber can get a bottle of water for free at the store, Song Huizhou, general manager of Shiniuzhai, told China Daily.
Staff members are responsible for carrying supplies to the store every day, he added.
An unnamed employee told Beijing Youth Daily, another state-run newspaper, that staff carry dozens of bottles of beverages up the hill in their backpack every day, each sold for between 5 to 7 yuan, less than $1.
Staffers also handed out free mooncakes in tiny red boxes to climbers when the country celebrated the Mid-Autumn festival last month, according to videos circulated on Chinese social media.
Hunan, a landlocked province with 64 million people, is also home to The Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, which is famous for its towering, pillar-like karst formations believed to have inspired the otherworldly landscape in Canadian director James Cameron’s 2009 hit “Avatar.”