Climbing Tai Shan, one of China’s sacred mountains


“Well over 2,000 years ago, Emperor Qin climbed this mountain and from its summit, he proclaimed to the world the unification of his new nation of China. Today, he’d have to queue.”

A little over 500 miles south of Beijing in Shandong Province is Tai Shan, supposedly one of the ‘must climb’ mountains in China, so we climbed it.

The only thing is, they insisted we took the stairs. Believe it or not, up the full length of the 4,500 plus foot high mountain is one, huge stone staircase.

It means more people can climb it and you can do it quicker, but it also means that, when you get to the top, arguably China’s most sacred peak is like Blackpool.

TAi Shan

Some people carry huge incense sticks to burn at the summit of Tai Shan. Chinese people will tell you you should climb at night to watch the sunrise from the top, but be careful in the winter. The stone steps can be pretty slippery when its icy.

Hawkers and shop traders (yes, there are shops on top of the mountain) sell everything including, I’m sure, hats with ‘kiss me, I’ve climbed Tai Shan’ on them.

Well over 2,000 years ago, Emperor Qin climbed this mountain and from its summit, he proclaimed to the world the unification of his new nation of China. Today, he’d have to queue.

It’s beautiful and it’s worth the entry fee just to see the magnificent stone staircase keep on unfolding up steeper and steeper slopes (though your heart does break a little, every time you see another thousand or so stairs roll over the horizon), but hikers and yompers be warned, it doesn’t feel at all like climbing a mountain, more like scaling a piece of architecture.

If you climb mountains from time to time, you’ll enjoy the view from the top, but not be blown away. No matter who you are, the staircase will blow you away.

After eight hours of pounding up, then down thousands of stone steps though, you may find yourself a little stiff and footsore by the time you get back down. It’s easier on the muscles, but harder on the joints than climbing the traditional way.

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