Got a spare weekend? Seen all there is to see in Xi’an? Then why not take a trip to nearby Huashan (Mount Hua) – one of China’s Five Sacred Mountains. With its highest peak being 2,145.9 meters, the view from the top of Mount Hua can be breathtaking, and seeing as it’s only a half an hour ride away from Xi’an via high-speed rail, the opportunity to embark on the infamous Huashan Mountain trek should not be missed. Huashan Mountain is largely made up of granite rock and features five peaks in total including 20 Taoist temples scattered around the area. One of the best ways of fully appreciating the splendor of this mountain range is by going on a two day trip whereby the first day is spent hiking to the top and staying the night at a hotel on the summit. But be warned: the Huashan Mountain trek is considered one of the most dangerous in the world so this is not a destination for the lighthearted (see more tips below).
Day 1: Cloister of the Jade Spring-North Peak-West Peak
For hiking trips such as these it’s always best to set off early. The first D train leaving Xi’an in the morning departs at 7:50, from Xi’an’s North Station (西安北站), and arrives at Huashan Station (华山北站) at 8.23. After getting off the train, you can hop on a tourist bus which takes you to the Cloister of the Jade Spring (玉泉院), a Daoist temple at the foot of the mountain. After checking out the temple and readying your spiritual senses for the task ahead, the path onward passes landmarks including the Fish Stone (鱼石), the Lingguan Temple (灵官庙), and the Baizhang Cliff (百丈崖) before finally arriving at the North Peak (北峰). After admiring the views and having a well deserved breather, head south and you’ll pass another array of daunting cliffs and ridges, before arriving at Jinsuoguan (金锁关). Here, you have the choice of heading up any of Mount Hua’s five peaks, and can directly head on up to the West Peak (西峰). Once on this summit, you can sort out a hotel for the night and spend the evening watching the magnificent sunset. We recommend you stay at the Huashan Xifeng Hotel (华山西峰饭店), where you can book a room for just 95 RMB by calling 091 3436 0508.
Day 2: West Peak-South Peak-East Peak-Middle Peak
Make sure you wake up early – as not only is it a great chance to admire the sunrise, but there’s also a fair deal of hiking to be done on day two. To gain access to any of these peaks to fully admire all Huashan has to offer, all you have to do is head back to Jinsuoguan and follow the signs accordingly. To head down the mountain you can either simply go back the way you came or head south from Jinsuoguan and take the road past the Middle Peak (中峰) that leads to the Yingyang Hole (迎阳洞) or the East Peak (东峰). This route might take a while though, so make sure you’ve got plenty of time on your hands – have a happy descent!
1) The Huashan trail is considered one of the most dangerous, if not THE most dangerous and deadly, hiking trails in the world. Although there are no official records by the Chinese government, some speculate that the Huashan mountain trail results in about 100 deaths per year; efforts have been made in recent years to make the trail safer though. The most perilous part of the trail is at Changkong Zhandao (长空栈道), which consists of a 13 foot long, one foot wide plank and a chain attached to the edge of the mountain for balance and support – one wrong step and you fall into an abyss. Daredevil hikers who choose this option are strongly advised to bring their own mountain-climbing harness to strap themselves to the chain. Other parts of the mountain only have a chain and some foot holds for support. Pressing yourself as close to the mountain for dear life is highly recommended. It goes without saying that people prone to vertigo or in poor physical shape should not even bother with this trail. For a better idea of the perilous nature of the trail check out the photos here.
2) While climbing Mount Hua you can also take the cable car if you’re feeling lazy. You can get to the car by heading two kilometers east of the Cloister of the Jade Spring, where you’ll find a place called Huangfu Valley (黄甫峪). There’s a path roughly eight kilometers long that leads to Wamiaogou (瓦庙沟), where you can get the cable car up to the North Peak. The car is open from 7:00-19:00 from April to October, and from 9:00-16:00 from November to March, and costs 80 RMB for a single trip and 150 RMB for a return.
3) Most people choose to ascend Mount Hua during the night, and generally prefer to head up from the Cloister of the Jade Spring to the mountain’s various observation points. The climb takes around four to six hours, so if you’re heading off in the middle of the night you should be able to catch the sunrise when you reach one of the peaks. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to circumnavigate all five peaks, then you’ll need about fifteen hours, though for those opting for the cable car, it’ll take around five or six hours.
1) It can get pretty windy up there, and the climb can be very taxing especially during the hot and humid spring and summer months. With regard to the wind, it’s best to take with you a sweater just in case it gets chilly up there, and it’s also not a bad idea to bring a raincoat should the heavens decide to open.
2) There are often many locals who hang around the Cloister of the Jade Spring area selling water and snacks at high prices, though it’s best to stock up whilst you’re in Xi’an so as to avoid being ripped off. Before you head up the mountain, make sure you fuel up on food from one of the restaurants on the street opposite the Cloister of the Jade Spring to ensure you have plenty of energy when taking on the climb. Also, make sure you take enough cash with you as you’re unlikely to find ATMs on the mountain!
3) As tempting as it may be, whatever you do don’t throw empty bottles off the edge of cliffs, as it’s very dangerous for the workers at Mount Hua to head off the trail and pick them up.
4) Bring a pair of gloves with you, as there are some parts of the mountain where you may have to rely on the jagged edges of the cliffs for balance, and the last thing you want to do is go home with a nastily scratched up hand.
Add: 120km from Xi’an, within Huayin City, Shaanxi Province
Price: 180 RMB
Tel: 400 0913 777
Opening hours: All day, tickets also available at any time
Getting there: You can take a D train from Xi’an to Mount Hua which stops at Huashan North Station (华山北站). The station is about five kilometers from the mountain, and you can take a tourist bus for 10 RMB which heads to the Cloister of the Jade Spring. If you’re arriving at Xi’an Train Station, you can take the number 1 tourist bus (旅游专线) from the East Square (东广场) which departs as early as 8:00. The bus fare costs 22 RMB and stops at the Xiyue Temple (西岳庙) before ending up at the Cloister of the Jade Spring. The bus trip takes about two hours from Xi’an and heads back at 17:00. The bus doesn’t run between January and March, though you can organize a trip with the various bus companies present at Xi’an train station.
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Keywords: Huashan Mountain trek Huashan Mountain Hiking Trip
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