Climbing Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain)


“That moment when the mountains show themselves is a spiritual, close to religious revelation, so much so that you can almost ignore the dozen or so cameras that go off around your ears the instant it happens.”

Despite it being basically vertical, it is possible to climb the 6,000 plus feet of Huang Shan (yes, they put some steps in …), but there are only two kinds of person who do; serious fitness freaks who want to test themselves against the mountain and the poor folks who have to carry the supplies that are too big for the cable car.

There are miles of hikes up and down the many peaks around the jagged summit when you get there, so my advice is to save your energy for something more rewarding than hour after hour of stone steps.

Spiritual camera clicks

There’s no getting away from it, these are the views I  saw in pictures that took my breath away.

One moment, I was standing in a thick, white blindness, the next, the clouds peeled away and in radiant sunlight, peak after peak after peak, like craggy, cutlass fingers, strode out of the meandering white. It was breathtaking.

That moment when the mountains show themselves is a spiritual, close to religious revelation, so much so that you can almost ignore the dozen or so cameras that go off around your ears the instant it happens.

Actually, that last noise was the ‘ping’ of one my calf muscles. They’re still a little tight after Tai Shan and I could have blow-out any second …

Huang Shan

Huang Shan graces the pages of no end of Chinese tourist brochures, but the view you get will depend entirely on the weather. The peaks are sad to be most beautiful, emerging from the clouds, but get too much cloud and you don't see a thing!

Steps. Again. Hmm…

Eastern China definitely does mountains differently from most other places I have been.

Normally, you climb a hill or mountain and when you reach the summit, you sit back, catch your breath and stare in awe at the vista below you, having one of those perfect moments in which there is just you and the mountain.

In China, you bowl up with the rest of your tour group, carrying your instant noodles in a bag. There’s an ATM up here, for crying out loud!.

For all the breathtaking views, you’re surrounded by people, cameras and tour guides with megaphones (how no one has hurled one of them off the top is beyond me).

You climb around the many peaks of the summit along paved walkways and stone steps.

You take in the views from behind a moulded railing. You never actually touch the nature around you.

That’s the price you pay for being able to reach Heaven’s door by cable-car, I guess; you have unprecedented access, but it’s slightly like seeing it through a window.

Still, window or not; what a view!

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