Sunday, 24 January 2016

"Frost Tourists" in Hong Kong

Some "frost tourists" checking out frost on the bushes up at Tai Mo Shan
Temperatures in Hong Kong dropped even lower today to 3.1 degrees Celsius and even closing all my windows and bundling up and staying next to the heater was how I survived inside most of the day.

However there were some adventurous spirits who wanted to see if there really was snow on Tai Mo Shan, the city's highest peak. Some "frost tourists" went up there in the early hours, but got a bit more than what they bargained for.

While they definitely did see frost and icicles, the slippery conditions up there resulted in many "frost chasers" falling on the icy roads and injuring themselves. In total 111 people were injured and 45 hospitalized, some with hypothermia.

These people obviously have not experienced very cold weather and were not prepared for what North Americans fondly call "black ice".

Some 85 injured people were rescued on Tai Mo Shan
Because many were stranded on the roads up to Tai Mo Shan, this hampered rescue efforts, four ambulances and three fire trucks were blocked from reaching the top at 9.30am.

The Fire Services Department confirmed 85 injured people were rescued up on Tai Mo Shan, and 130 trapped on Kowloon Peak.

New Territories South divisional commander Wong Ka-wing urged people to stay away from the mountain.

"I would like to take this opportunity to tell the public: do not go up the hill anymore," he said. "The cold weather has caused roads to be covered in frost. Whether it is vehicles or people, anyone passing through is likely to face slippery and dangerous conditions."

There's a video on Apple Daily's website of a young woman arguing with a policeman about wanting to continue her trek even though police had cordoned off the area. While he was trying to tell her it was not safe and she had to turn back, she felt it was her right to keep going.


She sounds like those skiers who like to ski out of bounds just because they think they can...

Other videos showed people sliding in the car park up on the mountain, a new novelty for them.

From the sheer numbers of people injured up on Tai Mo Shan indicates how selfish and naive they are when it comes to dealing with cold weather. While temperatures drop, Hong Kong is still relatively humid, which means moisture will be on the roads, which will freeze overnight and create icy conditions. Obviously they had not thought of that possibility.

Even more crazy was that on Tai Mo Shan, the Vibram Hong Kong 100 trail run race was held today and wasn't called off until the race was already underway. It seems some runners were completely unprepared for the frigid conditions, while others were bogged down by "frost chasers" they encountered on their path.

Perhaps race organizers should have just cancelled or postponed the ultra-endurance race? While 3.1 degrees is not a record low temperature -- the lowest was 0 degrees in 1893 -- it's still damn cold and slippery to be out there running 100km...

The next few days will continue to be cold... brrrrrrrrrr


  1. And the winds. It was sad and scary to watch people unable to make any progress down Tai Mo Shan.

    1. Hi ChopSuey -- They really shouldn't have gone up there in the first place! But now they have learned their lesson!