Jay Cochrane checks a guide wire for The Great China Skywalk over the Yangtze River deep in Qutang Gorge on October 19, 1995. The Chalk Wall, several hundred meters wide and several dozen meters high, is a canvas completely covered with carved inscriptions dating from as far back as the Song Dynasty, 1,000 years ago. Two characters named "Qutang Gorge" were carved by Zhang Boxiang of the Qing Dynasty over 400 years ago, each measuring 1.70 meters in width. The letters were covered by water after the completion of the Three Gorges Dam.
The skywalk was and is the greatest highwire walk ever made spanning half a mile between the canyon walls and 1,350 feet above the river. Thousands of spectators lined the trails within the legendary Three Gorges of the Yangtze. The gorges are now filled with water with the completion of the Three Gorges Dam, creating a 500-foot deep reservoir in Qutang Gorge.
In 1995, digital technology was in its infancy and I was hired by Jay Cochrane to guarantee that a picture of his skywalk deep in the interior of China would be in newspapers worldwide. Armed with a macintosh laptop and a Nikon Coolscan, both new technology, I accomplished the goal. I was the only member of the western media allowed to travel to the location as a member of Jay's entourage.
It began a twenty-year documentation and friendship with Jay Cochrane as he skywalked across the world. Jay passed away from cancer in 2012 and I miss him every day.
Visit the new jaycochrane.com, and celebrate the 20th Anniversary of THE DECADE OF SKYWALKS above Niagara Falls, Canada.
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