Adventures in Asia

by Greg & Francie

Climbing Hua Shan

July 25th, Greg & I climbed Hua Shan, one of the 5 sacred Taoist mountains in China. Unfortunately it’s more of a souvenir stand these days than a sacred place, but that’s ok, because it was still a fun hike, and while we did get elbowed and pushed by chinese tourists, none of them knocked us off a cliff so we are happy. (just a little joke 🙂

The route we wanted to do is about 8 hours of hiking so we got an early start. We only encountered a few other hikers in the first couple hours of the ascent. It was quite misty, which fit well with the lush vegetation and occasional temple along the path.


The first 4 km were easy going with just a slight incline. After that though, it was 2 km straight of stone steps.
Greg on Huashan

Some of them were really steep! Risk-averse Greg did not like them, but pro-risk Francie did!
Francie climbing Huashan

The actual arrival at the top was a little dissappointing… we hiked up in near solitude, but because the peak has a CABLE CAR going up to it from the other side of the mountain, it was absolutely mobbed! There were women in dresses and high heels, little babies toddling around, men in their business attire, and there we were still out of breath, soaked in sweat, carrying our heavy backpacks. The souvenir stands all sell medals for getting to the top. I don’t think the cable car riders should be allowed to buy them, hehe. But I won’t begrudge the cable car, because it was going to take it down the mountain to save our legs from walking down all those stairs…

About to have anxiety attacks from clausterphobia, we decided to continue up the steps another 1200 vertical feet to get to the East peak of the mountain, which does not have a cable car connection. The further along we got the more the crowd thinned out.

The east peak:
East Peak-HuaShan

Around this time the mist started to clear out and the resulting view was very beautiful.
View from HuaShan
View from HuaShan

There is a tradition on the mountain of purchasing a piece of red cloth and a padlock and leaving them on one of the peaks. You are then supposed to throw the key off the edge of the cliff. I don’t really know what the significance of this tradition is or where it came from. Greg and I decided not to partake. I didn’t think I could bring myself to toss a key off the mountain because of my deeply ingrained “anti-littering” sensibilities.

After some peace and quiet and snacks on the beautiful east peak we climbed the 3km of steps back down to the first peak and queued up for the cable car.

Cable car to heaven

What a great adventure! We’re both sore today from the stairs, but it’s ok because this evening we hop on a train for 16 hours which will give us plenty of time to rest. 🙂


July 26, 2007 - Posted by | China, Travel


  1. Wow, that is an awesome expierence! Very cool, but tiring and worth it.

    Comment by JoJo | July 26, 2007 | Reply

  2. Holy shit – that was awesome.

    Comment by Scott Berkun | July 29, 2007 | Reply

  3. This has got to be the best panda blog ever! It makes us look forward to our trip to China next month, although we won’t spend much time there, only about 3 weeks. But thanks for making this such an informative. wonderful reading. Great pictures! I especially like your comment about not wanting to litter by throwing a key! Cool!

    Comment by William Burke | August 3, 2007 | Reply

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