Never thought I would come to a place look just like a traditional Chinese ShanShui (mountain and water) painting, especially in this fast urbanizing China, and in such a touristy spot, Huashan is indeed magical.
Only one and a half hours by train from Xian, the ancient capital, “Huashan is the most beautiful mountain in China” I was told by many mainland travellers.
Though I had less than 2 days in Xian, I decided to climb Huashan, in a get-the-most-of-it way, starting from the middle of the night, hoping to see the sunrise.
It was a moonless night, at 1 am me and my friend were probably the last to enter the park for the midnight ascent. I saw a few bright stars so high in the sky, then I realize they’re actually lamps along the path in one of the peaks. Jesus, that’s high! The last one third of the climb was almost vertical, steps craved out of stones were narrower than the width of my feet, and in this time of the year (late Nov) steps became icy and slippery, you just got to hold on so tight to the icy cold metal chains.
After a strenuous 5 hours climb, a pretty good record, then we arrived the snow capped East Peak, where everyone were there to expect the sunrise. But there were on sunrise, not even some attractive color, cause it’s snowing. Some people including my friend, couldn’t stand the exhaustion and the -8C coldness, they descend with achievement of climbing up to 2100m, as well as disappointment. I went to the other peaks like I planned. From here, with day light slowly brightening up, the most dramatic mountain scenery one after another unveil in front of my eyes.
The most jaw dropping must be Xiaqi (Chess) Pavilion, on the tip of a cone shape big rock attached to the mountain, there built a tiny pavilion, lightly blanketed by snow, and pine trees are skirting around it, with a spectacular rocky mountain backdrop, it’s such a poetic setting that brought me back to the legendary poets and martial heroic times.
On Huashan there are numerous memorial things dotting keeps your eyes busy, some are for prayers, some are simply calligraphy craved in a stones. But regardless it’s essential to walk the many different trail that connects you to it’s all five peaks. Except the North Peak, it’s all within a 40 minutes walk and each of them offer you a different perspective to Huashan, and those cliffs! honey, you have to see it to believe it, I have never seen any mountain formation like that.
No wonder I heard people say they’ve been to Huashan 9 time, one even said 15 times and still counting, I’m sure Huashan offers you many different view in different season, different weather and different time of a day.
Huashan is indeed stunning, and because it’s so accessible people can go to North Peak by cable car without sweating a drop, so it attracts many mainland holiday makers, I was told in this year’s National Day’s holidays, Huashan received more than 7000 visitors a day, this number is also surreal. Even now is their low season, during my descent I still see a respectable amount of people climbing up on its steep and sometimes extremely narrow paths, and it gets noisy! I just can’t imagining what it’s like in its peak season.
I’m glad I chose to climb in the middle of the night, it’s really tiring, but very rewarding, cause I beat the touristy crowd arrived by the first cable cars of the day.