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Journey to the East Peak of Hua Shan!

CHINA | Tuesday, 28 June 2011 | Views [1022]

On Saturday night, me and the rest of the volunteers teaching English in Xi'an had the brilliant idea to go on a "mountain hike."  What did we end up with?  A mountain climb to Dong Feng (the East Peak) of Hua Mountain in a two hour bus ride away from Xi'an.  Something to clarify at this point: I have never climbed a mountain before.

As a first experience mountain climbing experience, climbing the tallest mountain in Shaanxi Province wasn't probably the best thing to do.  Also, I probably could have run a few laps beforehand to warm up.  Or something at least.

Nevertheless, the trip starts out swell enough with a bunch of pagodas and other ancient Chinese tombs and structures that you can take pictures at and see for free.  When you are ready to begin the climb, there is a ticket you have to buy to suffer the enduring pain!  (Of course - the way every government exploits its natural highights).  Added tip for those of you that are students: bring your student ID's and you get 50% off the ticket price any other ticket you want to buy!  You have the option of taking a cable car both up and down the mountain and the fee is one-way only.

Of course, my friends and I wanted to have the whole "mountain climbing experience" so we chose to climb up from the bottom.  We started at 7 PM...and reached North Peak (about 1600 meters above sea level) around 10 PM.  East Peak is 2096 meters above sea level.  However, we had to cross the entire mountain and then go upwards on a steep, steep slope, so this stretch took the longest.  I swear I started hallucinating and hearing things by the time it was midnight.

Finally, we were convinced that this mountain had to be the "paradox" or the infinite staircase that Arthur talks about in Inception.  However, we climbed a vertical patch, hanging onto the chains besides us that were swaying in the wind.  My friend ahead of me shouted into the air, "Did we make it?  Did we make it?" as he did after every time we finished a particuarly rough patch and this time, instead of the wind howling in silence and pants filling up the air, we heard a little Chinese voice, "You made it!"

We whooped for joy and collapsed on a rock near the edge of the peak.  Even though the mountain was hard, we were determined to see the sun.  After all, who wouldn't want to?

Conclusion: if you come to China, climb a mountain.  You might want to kill yourself during the journey and question the existence of your life and what you wanted to get out of the journey, but it's worth it.  It's worth having the experiene of drinking two liters of water without having to pee because you are sweating so much.  Not everyone can say the same, right?

Also some interesting facts about Hua Shan:

  • it's the tallest of the Five Sacred Mountains of China
  • the name means "flowery" or "splendid mountain"
  • the character "hua" has been adopted as synonym of China itself

No better place to say you've experienced China!  This is what I would have seen if there wasn't any rain:

Tags: china, hua mountain, hua shan, mountain

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