Short on time, I’d arranged a driver to collect me from Xi’an Airport and drive to our hotel in Huashan. We stayed in a room behind a shop, about as close to the trailhead as possible – Huashan Fengguan Inn. It was very reasonably priced, but in November the room was freezing! Getting up at 6am, the early time, close proximity and cold helped keep most of the other walkers away. After paying my Huashan entrance fee, the long climb up from the village started. The majority of people use the cable car, however, I only used it for the way down. From beginning all the way to the top, the entire trail is well paved. Food and water is available on route and although the prices are relatively obscene to a local store, they are not so crazy in western terms – especially given that they have been hand carried up. Steep sections (and there are many) have chains to hold on to. There are several peaks to explore on top of Huashan.
One peak offers a short (50 meter) detour over wooden planks with a sheer drop down to the abyss. It claims to be the most dangerous hike in the world, the planks did look weather beaten, however the full harness and well secured lines looked a lot safer than many rock climbs. What I found more dangerous was that as midday arrived, so did some small crowds. Unfortunately this meant lots of people pushing past on another. Pausing to let a fellow traveller past simply resulted in people behind forcing through. There are a lot of steep drop-offs and crazy steep stairs. Getting shoved off by smoother impatient walker was what struck me as the most dangerous part of the hike.The views are remarkable though. Many look like they have inspired many a ancient Chinese artwork. Above the clouds, the wind swept trees against the harsh but beautiful mounts were truly inspiring. Good luck padlocks with bright red messages added some striking color.
Sadly, I’ve lost most of my pictures of this Huashan hike and the map is reconstructed from the few that remain. This hike starts to the east at the East Gate (not shown on the map below) 34°31’34.8″N 110°06’13.1″E. Note that the cable car down (that I took) did not drop me off where I started. From the cable car, a bus took me back to the train station, and eventually I was reunited with my driver. From what I read, it was relatively quiet during my hike. Given this is one of Chinas scared mountains, it is often crazy busy. The City of Xi’an is also well worth a tour, as is a visit to see the Terra-cotta Army. Xi’an is the ‘Cultural Capital’ of China.