- We were here: October 3, 2018.
- Number of recommended days: 1 if we have seen other Chinese mountains, 2 otherwise.
- My score: 2/5, although this depends even more on if other mountains among the important ones in the country have been visited before, since at least one should be a mandatory stop (what would mean 3/5 or higher), regardless of whether we are countryside fans or not.
It’s a fact, the indisputable stars in terms of nature of the whole center-south-east region of the country are the mountains, but not the Himalayas and other gigantic ones, which are more to the west; Those that Chinese really like are in this area, they are between 1400 and 2200 meters of altitude, are extremely vertical, limestone consistency and covered with trees that take root in the rock. There are at least 13 mountains of great importance:
- The 4 Sacred Mountains of Buddhism.
- The 4 Sacred of Taoism.
- And the 5 Great Mountains, which do not become sacred, but are the most important in the history of the country. They are associated with the 5 cardinal points (the center included), the 5 planets that were known (excluding Earth, from Mercury to Saturn), 5 ancient deities (each associated with a color) and the 5 elements of Eastern mythology (water, air, fire, wood and metal). The first emperor, our well-known Qin Shin Huang, already established that each emperor had to climb these 5 mountains at least once during his term and offer sacrifices to the gods / elements / deities.
Well, Huashan is one of the Great Mountains, specifically the western one, the white deity, metal and planet Venus. It is one of the steepest and most vertical, what from immemorial time did not prevent locals from climbing up to each of its 5 peaks. In China there is an overwhelming logic: if I want to go up there, I go up there. Mountains that in other countries would be unapproachable for anyone who was not an equipped climber, are accessible in this one for users with determination and an acceptable physical form. For almost 2500 years, the most brave Chinese have climbed this and other mountains of importance through literally thousands of stairs, as digging steps into the rock and then climbing them for miles is something that requires immeasurable effort, but no mystery; One gets to think about how they have not yet made a stairway to the top of Everest.
Nowadays, Huashan is even more accessible. Taking one of the two cable cars that lead to the top will take much of the effort, but if we want to go from one summit to another, nobody will save us from hundreds of steps. The rewards are:
- Magnificent panoramas of the area. Many are those who spend the night in the basic lodgings on the top, sleep outdoors, or go up and down at night to see the sunrise and sunset.
- We will be impressed by the verticality of the mountain itself. To make us better to the idea, in Huashan was built what many call the most dangerous path in the world, which today is the oldest vertical-wall walkway that is preserved in China, since those of other mountains have been replaced or restored by new ones (some with glass floor) with the usual security measures, but this one does not; It is still a few meters of wooden plank barely 40 cm wide, without handrail. To avoid that people continue to fall in this part, something that happened with certain frequency, in the last years it’s visited in extremely small groups and anchored to the wall with a harness; the rise of adrenaline that supposes and the fact that no other mountain offers such a vertigo sensation is for many the main reason to choose this mountain over the others.
- But those walkers will also enjoy their own way up or down simply incredible stairs.
My perception of this mountain unfortunately is negatively biased to have gone there in the Golden Week: four hours waiting to get to the starting point of the climb on foot and so crowded peaks that we were unable to enter the planks having arrived two hours before they closed the access to them (when it is normal that there is hardly anyone willing to enter), they make one can not help but be disappointed. But still I will try to be objective:
- As I said at the beginning, at least one of these important Chinese mountains should be visited. Not only it is part of the native culture for thousands of years, but the beautiful landscapes and photogenic corners will not be found in mountains in other countries.
- In favor of Huashan over other mountains:
- The flights of stairs are the steepest we have seen, they are probably the most vertical and impressive that have ever been made, although it is true that they are there for the photo, since the most difficult have been closed to hikers for security reasons.
- The planks: there is no footbridge in China that can be compared to standing next to a vertical fall of more than 1000 meters high on some old tiny wood and without a handrail no matter the harness (of questionable quality) that we wear.
- It is, among the famous for its abrupt and imposing form, one of the most accessible, since you can now go to the town at the base of the mountain by high-speed train from Xi’an in only half an hour.
- Against: all these steep karstic mountains, although unique, bear a certain resemblance to each other, and Mount Hua is less beautifully landscaped (in our opinion) than others such as Mount Huang, Zhangjiajie or Guilin.
My advice: look for photos (feel free to check this blog) of all the important mountains in the country and choose the ones that interest you the most according to your taste. If you look for landscapes that look like another world, this is not your place; but if you like verticality and risk, here you will feel like emperors did.
WHAT TO SEE
- SOLDIERS PATH AND TRAIL FROM NORTH TO SOUTH PEAK
- CLIMB BY THE WEST ROUTE AND THE PLANKS
- WHEN TO GO
- TRANSPORTATION: HOW TO GET TO THE MOUNTAIN AND HOW TO CLIMB UP
- PRICES, EATING AND SLEEPING
- DANGERS AND ANNOYANCES