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Friday, February 14, 2014

HUA SHAN - SIMPLY: THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN

The Dragons Ridge is a path in quota that leads all the way to the Central peak.

WHAT A WONDERFUL PLACE IS HUA SHAN!

This statue that is dedicated to Confucius seems to me a monument
to the just sleep of the walker, who manage to pass such an endurance test
as climbing all the way up to the Hua Shan


No wonder Hua Shan is such a famous Taoist sanctuary! 



Hua Shan is so inspiring, so scenic, so beautiful!



You can add to this idyllic picture: so expensive for the Chinese standards (and maybe for the Western standards too!)! But that would be maybe to spoil a little heaven on earth.



To spoil a little heaven on earth would be certainly to describe in the detail what a terrible and tiring endurance test is to climb all the way from the bottom, at the entrance to the park, to the furthest peak of Hua Shan, where the best views can be enjoyed and the main sanctuary is situated.



I suppose, if you want to keep an idyllic view of Hua Shan, it would be probably better to pay an expensive ticket and take the cable car from to the bottom to the North peak avoiding to climb thousands and thousands of stairs (and I am not joking, they are really thousands!) and then walk along the paths that connect the different peaks.



When the ascent finally ends, at the North peak the view are spectacular, so beautiful and rare to seem unreal and you will rewarded for your efforts.

When you start your climb you can see the mountains peaks so high above you that you almost feel that it is impossible to conceive the idea that you would ever get all the way up there (and never mind for the end of the same day!).


The Taoist temple.
The reality is that you can actually walk all the way up to the North peak in a day, but it is certainly not going to be easy.


You will sweat a lot, you will feel your legs aching and you will be uncomfortable walking on narrow overcrowded paths with sheer drops at the sides and no protection at all.



Most of the path is made by stairs. The stairs run along the side of the bare mountains and through the clouds, never and never ending: it is not for chance that the long path is called the Stairway to Heaven.



When the ascent finally ends, at the North peak the view are spectacular, so beautiful and rare to seem unreal and you will rewarded for your efforts.



Four lines of mountains ridges will be under your eyes, surrounded by the mist, they are an incredible scene!


But the best has yet to come: from the North Peak starts the Dragon Ridge.
Four lines of mountains ridges will be under your eyes,
surrounded by the mist, they are an incredible scene!

The Dragons Ridge is a path in quota that leads all the way to the Central peak, passing literally through an hostel (the path passes inside the hostel in fact) and next to a wonderful and inspiring Taoist temple with dramatic views and sheer drops all round.


From the Taoist temple, surrounded by thousands of padlocks left here as a sign of eternal love, friendship and devotion, it is great to enjoy, with a great feeling of reward in your heart (and with certainly a lot of tiredness in your body), the sun setting in a misty sky and sinking in the big clouds below you.

From the Taoist temple, surrounded by thousands of padlocks left here as a sign of eternal love, friendship and devotion, it is great to enjoy, with a great feeling of reward in your heart the panorama.







Along the path you can read the inscriptions left by celebrated Taoist priests. The mountain peaks are named in honor of different divine or legendary personalities. Everything is inspiring up here.



The most memorable experience is to sleep on the last peak of Hua Shan Mountain Park as I did. 



It would be cold and would be good if you are well equipped for it. 



If not few tents and sleeping bags are available to rent at the refuge to enjoy some rest in relative comfort and wait for the sunrise.



When all the tents and the sleeping bags are rented, numerous green army coats in soviet style are rented too to the people who find refuge against the walls of the little restaurant or they just sleep on the floor.



Everyone spending the night on the peaks of Hua Shan, fighting the tiredness and the cold, mostly Chinese people, keep repeat convincingly that this is the best experience in China.

This is why food and drinks are so expensive along the path!

The day after, when the sun is ready to rise, the people on the East Peak has tripled in number.


During the night, many more people have climbed the path and got to the top. It is probably a good idea.



Climbing to Hua Shan Peaks at night is relatively easy: you can do this with a portable torch and in a way can be a nicer experience than climbing the mountain during the day. 



At night the temperature is much cooler, there are relatively less people on the path and the path is very clearly marked and easy to follow.



On top of all this you don't have to wait one night on the top of the mountain waiting for the sun rise to come.



For 5 am the temperature has drop sensibly and even the Red Army's coats are not warm enough to protect the people scattered on the wooden platform around the refuge.



Before the sun rises the hysteria starts: you will see everyone dangerously running on the higher (and more exposed) boulder to enjoy the best view and to be the first to see the sun. 



Many Chinese will decide to phone a relative at home (at 5 in the morning!) to let him know where they are and what they are doing (the answer of the relative is currently unknown, but can be probably guessed). 



The shouting of the Chinese people at their mobile phones on Hua Shan reminds the one of the sellers at the Muslim Quarter in Xian at peak hour.



When the sun finally and slowly rises, it  paints the sky first of pink and then of a pale golden colour.



The nearest range of mountains appears from the dark below your eyes.



Then the range of mountains behind starts to appear and so on till you can see four different ranges of mountains shining in different shades of blue.



If the sky is not misty (as most of the time it can be very misty), the views are fantastic!



Below the East Peak the Taoist temple seems to stay on a precarious balance on the top of the West Peak. All the path is now clearly visible, including the sheer drops siding the narrow path.





At 6 am, like an army, thousand of people start to walk down the path. Like an army they shout and they clang everything they have in their hands to make as much noise at it is possible to imagine.



Few, exhausted by the climb done during the night and the lack of sleep, collapse along the path surrounded by the complete disinterest of their fellow countrymen.



The light in the early morning is the best one possible to enjoy the panorama, it is the time of the day when you can see very well further away.



The large boulders run nearly vertically down in to the valley.



We have climbed nearly vertically for more 1500 meters in one day.

The large boulders run nearly vertically down in to the valley.


No wonder the founder of Taoism is sleeping comfortably at the feet of the mountain where the path starts in front of the Jade Temple.



That statue that is dedicated to Confucius seems to me a monument to the just sleep of the walker, who manage to pass such an endurance test as climbing all the way up to the Hua Shan, sleep the night up there, and walk all the way down the following morning!



What a memorable experience!


How to get to Hua Shan:


To get  to Hua Shan with your own means is relatively easy. There are (not too frequent buses) from Xian main bus station, in front of the main train station and the walls gate.


Waiting for the sunrise.
The travel is around two hours.


Consider to bring with you plenty of water and food for your trip.



Inside the national park food and water are sold along the path but they are very expensive. On the peak there is also a restaurant.



If you are planning to stay for the night bring with you a sleeping bag. A hostel is available but it is not very clean and quiet.



Be careful if you are planning to walk all the way up and down in the same day, it is possible but very tiring.



Consider taking the cable car at least to go up and maybe walk your way down (consider at least 3 hrs of walk anyway).



If you want to climb the path at night it is possible and in a way advisable to avoid the heat. Just bring with you a torch and enough batteries.




Are you planning to travel to China?




Read my page My China Project where you can find the list of all of my posts and the destinations covered in this blog in China.


Read also the page Visit China and the page What to know before to travel to China.






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