Sunrise on Hua Shan (Hua Shan, Shaanxi Province, China)

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June 26th 2008
Published: June 28th 2008
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(Day 83 on the road)I am back from climbing Hua Shan, one of the five holy Taoism mountains of China, and famous for its spectacular scenery. I had set out with three people from the hostel I stayed in (Canadian Allen, British Harriet and American Aaron), and on the bus there from Xi'an we met another American couple (Jen and Eric) and an Australian father with his son (Paul and Tim), who then joined us. So we were a big group that started the ascent, and it was rather strenuous, both due to the steepness of it and the 36 degrees in the shades that we had to endure. There are four peaks on Hua Shan (North, East, South and West Peak), and we reached the North Peak after about 6 hours, all of it actually over paved surface and literally thousands of steps. Nightfall was still an hour or so away, so we pushed on a bit further, reaching a hostel about 30 minutes below the East Peak just before dawn. We spent the night there and got up again at 0430 to finish the climb to the East Peak, reaching it just before sunrise. On the way up and on top, we met many Chinese who had made the ascent during the night, reaching the peak at the same time with us, but all of them looking dead-tired, not really giving the impression that they enjoyed the hike at all.

The sunrise on Hua Shan was serene, and after a while we started the descent. We took a different path down - there are actually two ways, one longer and scenic one and one shorter one which runs right below the cable car. Both routes are fine and not dangerous at all, despite what some websites about the mountain tell you. The one below the cable car is much shorter then the scenic one, and going down took us about 2 1/2 hours, compared to six hours for going up. The experience of trekking on this beautiful mountain in a nice group of people was near perfect, and has left me with many memorable images.

Next stop: Xi'an (Shaanxi Province, China).

To view my photos, have a look at And to read the full account of my journey, have a look at the complete book about my trip at Amazon (and most other online book shops).

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