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.
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.
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.
After about 3 hours or so of hiking up stairs (and gaining some sore legs in the process) we made it to the top!
We were lucky to have clear skies all morning so we got some great pictures.
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).
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.
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?