Climb the Hua Shan


We bring you a new account of trip to the imperial capitals of China we did in August 2012. On this occasion we tell you our experience when climbing one of the five sacred mountains of China: he Hua Shan, excursion we did from Xi'an. Many have asked us details of how is the ascension to Hua Shan and here we will try to solve all your doubts.

Bus leading to Hua Shan

We did not get up too early that morning even though we planned to take a day trip to one of the most important pilgrimage points in China. We walked to the Xi'an train station and in the bus parking we took the bus that would take us to the Hua Shan. It didn't take long to fill up and when it was full it started.

Things you see on Chinese highways.

The bus took about two hours to arrive. During the trip, we bought a map of the Hua Shan for two yuan that more or less indicated the trails and that ended up being very useful. Upon arrival at the destination, the bus stopped on a street full of shops and restaurants. At the end of the street stood the jade temple and at that point we were not very clear about going up that road directly or looking for the bus that leads to the cable car station.

One of the gardens of the Jade Temple

The problem we had was that we didn't find the bus de marras anywhere, so we decided to enter the temple and start the road from there, which ended up being the best decision, although at that time we did not have them all.

Al Hua Shan climbs up here ...

We were following the indications for half a kilometer or so. They were all in Chinese, English, Korean and Japanese, although the English translation of some phrases used to be a bit cryptic. Luckily, our notions of Japanese helped us confirm that we were on the right track. About ten minutes or so we find the ticket office to access the Hua Shan (180 yuan).

Hua Shan ticket office

That was the point of no return, we didn't have much info on how that path would be, but we decided to venture despite everything. To bad, we could always turn around. From that point we were waiting for six kilometers of ascent to the top of the mountain.

At first the path was deceptively pleasurable.

The trail is very prepared. The first kilometers are well paved and you walk on a very regular track. Those first kilometers make up a very affordable ascent, which reminded me a lot of the Nakasendô route in Japan, since every two by three you found small bars with tables and chairs where you could sit and rest. In addition, in these bars they sell you everything: drinks, raincoats, batteries, instant noodles, Red Bulls to give you wings on the rise ... everything.

We saw bars almost every 500 meters.

I love to walk, and more if it is by plane, I can walk 20 kilometers almost without stopping as in the Way of Santiago Portuguese. However, when it comes to climbing I find it very tedious and I have to stop every two for three. The road to the top of the Hua Shan soon became an upward slope. And if we add the humid and suffocating heat it was doing, the truth is that all those rest facilities that we encountered during the climb came very well. As we started to sweat the fat drop, we had to go hydrating regularly.

The stairs begin.

Little by little, the road became more vertical, from the ramp we went to the steps, quite balanced at the beginning. On the other hand, as we climbed the mountain, a thick fog began to surround us that gave the landscape a very mystical air. It is not surprising that the Hua Shan is one of the sacred mountains of China, as it is one of the most beautiful places we saw during the entire trip.

More steps

When the climb began to get more complicated, we stopped more often, the steps began to get heavier and the heat didn't help. It was then, when we were totally giving up and eating something in a bar, that we met a couple of Spaniards that we had met in the excursion to Yungang Grottoes and the hanging temple in Datong. They told us they were doing the same route but in the opposite direction. They had climbed to the top with the cable car on the opposite slope, had already been an hour down and had the turbo because they had been told that the last bus was leaving for Xi'an from the base in just two hours (!!!).

The fog prevented us from seeing the surrounding landscape, but it gave us magical moments.

Knowing a little China, we were surprised that the last bus of the day left so soon, since the Chinese do not despise a business opportunity and the transport issue is usually very well organized ... but anyone took a chance! So we also put the batteries and started to climb as if there was no tomorrow. We calculated that we had an hour and a half ahead, so we had to shake.