Mount Hua, China, probably the world's most dangerous tourist place

Mount Hua, China, probably the world's most dangerous tourist place

Mount Hua (?? Hua Shan)is a sacred Taoist mountain located in Shaanxi Province, China. It is one of the Five Great Mountains.

The 1,997-meter-tall mountain, true to its reputation as the "most precipitious mountain under heaven", is a cluster of five peaks with breathtaking cliff faces and a tough challenge to mountaineers. Hua was historically the location of several influential Taoist monasteries, and was known as a centre for the practise of traditional Chinese martial arts. It is also one of the five holy mountains of China.



After you get to Huashan village by minibus, there are several routes to take:

1) Climb the North Peak -- main route from the West Gate. Plan for more than four hours to reach the North Peak.

2) Take the cable car (75 yuan one way) to the North Peak. Buy a ticket and take a bus (10 yuan one way) to the lower station (mandatory) from the East Gate.

3) Climb the North Peak -- alternate route below the cable car. Take the bus to the cable car station from the East Gate. This takes an estimated 2 hours, and is nothing but steps.

The bus will let you off down the street the West Gate. You can take a taxi (less than 5 minutes and less than 5 kuai) to the East Gate, which is the ticket office for the cable car and bus to the cable car station.

These three routes meet up again just below the North Peak summit.

From this area, there is one route to the other peaks. This passes through the area known as the "Heavenly Steps" (????literally "ascend heaven ladder", "Sun and Moon Cliff" and "Black Dragon Mountain," the latter called that because it looks like a dragon's wavy back. The route is no more than a meter wide at places. This should take about 2 hours.

At the top of this section is the "Gold Lock Pass." Here the route branches. Paths lead towards the East, South, Center and West Peaks, as well as other points of interest. As most of the climbing is done, the final assent to each of the peaks is not too severe. You can only one (probably the South, the highest) or walk a circuit. In this are there are temples, lodges and other sites. This includes the infamous Changkong Boardwalk.



- Green Dragon Ridge - (Canglong Feng) narrow rock ridge with vertical cliffs on both sides (not for the faint of heart)

- North Peak - (Bei Feng) the first of the five mountain peaks

- Watch the sun rise from East Peak (Dong Feng) by attempting a night hike. It won't be as crowded as during the daytime, but you will see other hikers ascending as well. Be sure to bring along a flashlight, spare batteries and warm clothing.

- With a safety harness (since 2005!) walk out on the ????? Changkong zhandao, "Vast Sky Plank Walk"). Climb a ladder that's nothing more steel rods driven into a crack in the rock, and walk on planks a foot wide along the edge of a cliff dropping thousands of feet, and in places put you trust in footholds carved into the rock.



Be sure to bring enough water for your hike. You may need to buy water on the mountain which will cost you about 5 Yuan. If you buy the water before coming the price should be about 1.5 Yuan. Most people will drink Red Bull from small golden cans. This Red Bull is not carbonated and is a little more watery than those available in the United States.



Biang Biang Mian (Noodles) Special Shaanxi noodles available on the mountain. The character for biang is a special character with 57 strokes only used in Shaanxi Province.



Most of the peaks have guesthouses where you can sleep in communal rooms of about 4 to 10 people. The price should be around 60 to 120 Yuan.