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Climbing Huangshan: One of the 5 Sacred Peaks of China

Climbing Huangshan: One of the 5 Sacred Peaks of China

Anhui, Asia, China

This past weekend, with the help of my fabulous teacher, I organized a small group to go to the nearby Anhui province of China to climb the most famous mountain in China: Huangshan (黄山)Mountain.

The views at the top of Huangshan Mountain
The views at the top of Huangshan Mountain are rumored to have inspired James Cameron’s Avatar

Of the 5 sacred peaks, Huangshan, or the yellow mountain, is supposed to be the most beautiful and stunning mountain of them all and climbing this baby has been on my bucket list since I first heard about it during my gap year.

The stunning views at the top of Mount Huangshan are unbelievable
The stunning views at the top of Mount Huangshan are unbelievable

However, the most challenging part turned out to be getting to Huangshan! Chinese websites are not user friendly for your average foreigner: websites were entirely in Chinese characters and when I found the correct transportation (finally!) you had to have a Chinese credit card to purchase bus tickets. (Bus is also the fastest way to get to Huangshan from Shanghai as the train actually takes longer!) Luckily, I got help from some Chinese friends and booked everything for our arrival in Tangkou.

Saturday morning, we woke up at 5:30am to eat some noodles and walk down to the bus station to get the 30 minute bus to the base of the mountain. After reading some other blogs on the best routes, we decided to start our ascent up the East stairs which is considerably easier to hike than the West side.

IMG_5201
Not a bad view of Huangshan mountain from the Eastern stairs, about 30 minutes into our hike

After about 3 hours or so of hiking up stairs (and gaining some sore legs in the process) we made it to the top!

Breathtaking views at the top
Breathtaking views at the top

We were lucky to have clear skies all morning so we got some great pictures.

These breathtaking views seem like something you'd see out of a movie
These breathtaking views seem like something you’d see out of a movie

However, there were tons of Chinese tourists at the top who pay to take the cable car up the mountain! The top of the mountain was accompanied with huge tour groups and loud speakers.

We decided to try and take the Western stairs down to lose the huge groups of people but we never made it. With our broken Chinese we ended up taking a route to the Western side of the cable cars. We ended up waiting in a line on the mountain and moving at a snail-like pace for about 4 hours where we then paid to take the cable cars down (as it ended up being past 5pm).

I've never seen so many people on top of a mountain before
I’ve never seen so many people on top of a mountain before

It was a bit of a frustration to the end of the day, especially as the clouds set in and we couldn’t see the stunning views anymore, but we passed away the time by playing mystery and word games.

My final thoughts?

I’m glad I had the opportunity to finally go and experience Huangshan firsthand. The views and the hike up were well worth it. However, I’m not a big fan of China’s tendency to develop mountains, putting hotels and restaurants at the top of otherwise gorgeous peaks. The tons of tourists who take the cable cars up ruin the feeling of being alone out in nature.

Magical peaks of Huangshan
Magical peaks of Huangshan

What do you think? Did you have a different experience getting to the summit of Huangshan or take a different route down? Is it worth it putting hotels, restaurants and numerous cable cars routes up the top of beautiful mountain ranges?  

 

About the author

I got my first taste of long-term travel when I took a gap year before beginning college. I lived and worked in Australia in one of the most transformative years of my life. Like many others, I caught the wanderlust bug and now I'm always busy adding to my bucketlist. Besides traveling, I'm into hiking and photography. I'm currently finishing up my senior year in college and planning my next big adventure!

5 Comments

  1. yomomma
    September 25, 2014 at 1:03 am

    Beautiful place, i can see why it is considered sacred. It also makes me appreciate our national park system even more. Glad for the new post, your pictures are stunning!

  2. yomomma
    September 25, 2014 at 1:05 am

    Beautiful place, i can see why it is considered sacred. It also makes me appreciate our national park system even more. Glad for the new post, your pictures are stunning! Also, if there were no cable cars then your experience would only be available to the physically fit few 🙁

    • pgoode12@gmail.com
      September 26, 2014 at 3:44 am

      Yes I wish China did a bit more to preserve nature as it is. It definitely made me miss the US national parks! I think the cable cars are a good idea but there’s so many-they make it a tour of the mountain range via cable car and its ridiculous how many people are at the top of the mountain!

  3. Dave
    October 6, 2014 at 12:59 am

    Wow, what a sight! Ya, there should be no hotels or even cable cars up to the top. I guess the world is lazy enough, don’t need to be even more lazy. Hope all is well Phyllis!

    • pgoode12@gmail.com
      October 12, 2014 at 1:40 pm

      Yeah Huangshan was cool but standing in line on top of the mountain definitely put a damper on the trip and made it a little less sacred-ey! Hope Lubbock is still interesting 🙂

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