Written by May 8, 2004 16:05
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Mt. Huashan is famous for its breath-taking cliffs, so has always been my dream to climb it. Finally I had the chance to make my dream come true. Friends and I left for Huanshan from the Xi'an Train Station by bus at about 8:00 pm. The ticket cost RMB30 (what a rip off!) We got to the foot of Huashan at 9:40 pm.

We started at about 10:00 pm, and it took us the whole night to climb to the top. Though it was tiring and hard work, I felt it was interesting. Ninety-five per cent of climbers were campus students (I could tell from their appearance). The whole atmosphere was like we were from one campus, participating in a large PE class. Also we made some friends who we didn't know before. To most people, night is the best time to climb Huashan, because you will not see the steep peaks and valleys below your toes and feel frightened. To me, climbing at night means we will miss the beautiful scenery and the photo opportunities it would offer. After all, natural conditions for photography (for example, light) are better in the daytime. The view of the two sides when climbing up is really more beautiful than the one going down the mountain.

We got to the North Peak first, the lowest of the five peaks of Mount. Hua. It is also the only way to reach the East Peak in order to watch the sunrise. When we reached the East Peak, some white smoke moved and floated to us. "It is the clouds not fog or smoke!" These words rang in my mind, and I screamed it out! It was just like a dream! I felt myself flying in the sky, with clouds surrounding me. I pinched myself with all my strength. "Wow, Jesus'! It's real!" I stretched out my hands, and wanted to touch these lovely clouds. Moist and soft! But when I folded my palm, they escaped between my fingers. I was intoxicated by this comfortable and wonderful feeling for some 30 minutes until my friends' angry calls and the very coldness woke me.

It was about 4:40 am when we got to the East Peak. The best and limited space for watching the sunrise was almost entirely occupied. The wind that to me seemed like a storm was strong and cold and hunger were hard to avoid, while there was still another hour remaining until sunrise. The time passed quickly as we chatted and imagined the great scene of sunrise while clinging closely to each other for comfort. Little by little, the eastern sky redened. We all watched intently not making a sound.. But unfortunately more and more clouds gathered. "It is cloudy", someone said. "Although the sunrise on a cloudy day is not so marvellous as one on a clear day, it is still charming and attractive. The combination of clouds and sun creates a totally different feeling. Look! The sun is like a fireball in the claw of dragon".

Qianchichuang and Tianti

During our whole progress up to the East Peak, Qianchichuang and Tianti impressed all the climbers. Qianchichuang, on the way to the North Peak, is the biggest crevice in a steep crag. It has a length of about 500 meters and more than 370 stone steps. Climbers must go in single file because the path is very narrow and with a steep drop alongside. You should grab hold of the iron chain on the each side, and move up slowly with care. That night as there were many tourists, the climbing speed was very slow so it took us about 40 minutes. The Tianti, on the way to East Peak, is worthy of its name! It really is at an angle of 90 degrees to the ground. Climbing it is just like going up to heaven! There are two ways for making the ascent. One is the natural stone stairway, hewn in the cliff face, which is indeed hard to climb. The other is an artificial iron one and so much easier to climb. Near to the top, I looked back as I wanted to say something to my friend, but could only see his head and hands under my toes. How choking and horrible!

After the sunrise, we set off to the Middle Peak (Jade Maiden Peak). It is said that the Ca'er Precipice and the Planked Path are the most dangerous places. Unfortunately, they were not opened because of heavy wind. South Peak (Dropping Goose Peak) is the highest of the five peaks, with the height of 2160 meters. And West Peak (Lotus Peak) was our last stop before leaving from North Peak by Ropeway. It is very exciting to take the cable car, which staggers but is safe. The single ticket will cost RMB60 while the round-trip ticket RMB110.

Leaving the cable car, we took a tour bus to the foot of Huashan at a cost of RMB10 per person. Having returned to the place at which we had arrived the night before, we got on a bus for Xi'an. This bus is more comfortable than the one we took from Xi'an Train Station Square, with softer seats and air-conditioning. Most important was that the price is RMB10 cheaper than the bus for the outward journey!

Next time I want to see a sunny sunrise, and hope to experience the Planked Path and Ca'er Precipice!

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