An early start and a bullet train saw myself and a friend I met in Beijing, Tim, head off to Hua Shan in order to hike the mountains there. We took a bus to the bottom of the mountain and began the torturous hike. To say it was steep would be a severe understatement! It was verging on vertical at some points. It took around two hours to get from the bottom to North Peak, the lowest of the five peaks. I was completely out of breath and verging on cardiac arrest when I reached the peak, but of course a Chinese tourist who had obviously taken the cable car and didn’t realise how sweaty I was thought it was a brilliant time to take photos with me.
We then spent about another three hours hiking from the North peak across the East, middle, and South. When we reached the peak of the South there was a section where you were harnessed in and walked out onto the rock face where there were tiny planks of wood or footing holes in the rock. It was a bit scary considering we were over 2100 meters up but so much fun! It wasn’t until we were back that I found out the plank walk was known as the most dangerous hike in the world, although the increasing tourism has bought increasing safety procedures and with the compulsory harnessing now it didn’t seem very dangerous at all. However, the tiny wooden planks were two-way, meaning the very limited space had be to shared and you were required you to move your harness over other hikers heads and hang over the edge of the plank as you passed one another – pretty scary!
Most of the day was covered in cloud which spoiled the view quite a bit but kept us cool whilst hiking and also gave the whole mountain a very mystical feel. However, just as we were on our last bit of the harnessed section the cloud lifted and revealed just how high we were and what an absolutely amazing view we had! The view from the top of South peak was potentially the best view I have ever seen, beyond amazing, and I’m sure it will be engraved in my mind forever. 100% worth the burning legs and sweat soaked clothes.
We finished the day by hiking to the final peak, West peak, just in time to catch the last cable car down to the bottom and make our way back to Xi’an. After finally getting something to eat and a few well deserved cold beers I quickly flopped into bed. It was the most rewarding day ever and my favourite day in China so far by a mile!