So, here we were, at the Centre Peak and ready for our long journey up to the highest South Peak. I had done a lot of hiking and stuff but this was probably the most exciting yet. I said to myself that “I am going to hike up this famous mount in China! To take pictures!!! Wow”.
When we stood at Northern Peak, I looked up the narrow footpath that fixed to the cliff of the mountain and thought that this was going to be one hack of a ride up (and down). The Chinese government had made the route much more user friendly over the years and they already closed off some of the more dangerous routes. Yet there were parts where the original paths were still in use, which I thought was good so people like us who never ‘conquer’ this mount would know what the original path looked like. Trust me, they were way more dangerous as there were no safety net anywhere so any strong wind could easily blow someone off the cliff!
I wasn’t thinking much about my physical capability but I knew I was ok and relatively fit for the task, especially when I was carrying over 8 kg of camera stuff and personal stuff including water and snacks. The route to the top was simply and truly stunning. We also witness something inspiring, the manual delivery to all the shops and hotels by some aged workers. As the mount was so high and there was no vehicle access anywhere on the mountain, any delivery to the shops and hotels on the mountain must be delivered manually. Moreover, all these deliverers were on the low-income bracket so none of them could afford a nice ride of the cable car and yes, THEY HIKE FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE MOUNTAIN AND ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP!!!! I spoke to tone of them and he told me that it took him two days to make one delivery and he only did two to three times a month because of the energy you needed to carry all those weights! Yes, they were heavy, each deliverer could carry upto 50 kg of load!!! I wasn’t joking but that’s what they told me. I wouldn’t be surprised when I saw one who carried stacks of Coke Cola! These were hard work and man. I never thought my cameras were heavy anymore.
The higher we went up, the harder it got. The air was thinner, the temperature was dropping and worst enemy, ice on the path. Our hiking boots were that good with slippery icy surfaces and we had to be careful as mentioned, some original paths still had no protection rails or guards from falling. Most locals only climbed the first bit so the path was packed. Getting through the crowd was a little hard work and a bit scary as you had to squeezed through the gaps when the path and steps were steep.
I guessed our adrenaline kicked in and overcome our physical exhaustion. Even though my breath was starting to get heavy but I soldiered on, with others of course. We talked and joked on the way and enjoyed the viewed whenever we stopped for a short rest.
Before we could reach the highest peak, we had to go through Central and Eastern peak. Central peak was not obvious and practically there wasn’t anything interested so we just walked through it.
After about four hours, before we got to South Peak, we came across the famous ‘plank’ walk, also the Eastern Peak. None of us went on it even though I wanted to but my wife insisted that she would divorce me. It was such a legendary walk and of course. So here’s a footage from someone who went there a couple of years back. So we did some photos where the entrance was, just to proof how scary it could be. The path was simply a carved out step from the face of the cliff and a few rusted steel chain was the only way between us and the bottom! I heard about fatality rate in Mount Hua but would never stop the enthusiasts or the brave few.
After a few photos, we continued our journey to the highest peak, the Southern Peak. By then, most locals would have left and only the ones like us would continued. The path was getting icier but we were fortunate that it was not raining. We made a quick stop for lunch when we saw a small food stall that sold instant noodles and snacks. After what we saw from those hard working deliverers, I couldn’t help but to support them, indirectly. So each one of us bought some noodles and tea eggs, a traditional Chinese snack. We didn’t want to waste time as our aim was to conquer all peaks by the end of the day so after four hours accent to the Southern Peak, we really thought we needed to speed up. But when we arrived at Southern Peak, we just couldn’t help but to admire the unobstructive view of Chinese landscape. We felt like we were on top of the world! It was something. Ok, it’s not like Mount Everest and nothing would come close but this was the highest mount that I hiked to date. I loved it.
So there we were, at the highest point of Mount Hua. How we only had about four hours before sunset and we had to quickly finish our quest, the visit the remaining peak, the Western Peak, by the end of day. It would be a challenge but stay tuned to see my next part!
If you have missed my previous blogs of China travel, here’re the links:
Gallery (Snap shots)
Have a good day!