<A> Climbing Wu Zhi Shan

Written by Apr 23, 2005 13:04
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Climbing Wu Zhi Shan

I am all about challenges so when we heard there was a mountain that needed climbing; I and my travel partner were on the next bus out of Sunny Sanya in Hainan to a little town just 2 hours away called Tongzha. This is the capital of the Li and Mao prefecture and the starting point for anyone venturing the Hainan highland wilderness. Let me tell you just what an adventure that was from the get go. The only buses that go there are the ones that have been used by locals for decades, anybody including chickens and agricultural products can board the bus. Bench seats but cheap fare, no AC but we have radio, no TV but the people are the friendliest and most sociable ever. Humble Island dwellers, the Hui people make you feel right at home just by their smiles and how they go out of their way to make you feel welcome. After arriving in Tongzha We found out we had missed the only bus that could take us to the village at the foot of the mountain. Apparently this bus only leaves a couple of times before noon. The only other option was to hire a motorcycle, an idea my travel partner lit up at. We haggled for about 5 minutes with a couple of very rough looking guys who wore bloody red teeth from the juice of a stimulant root that is as common as chewing tobacco in the area. Finally we settled on 60 Yuan each and we were off! What started off as a Kodak moment adventure soon became a numbing experience and finally a potentially dangerous situation set on the backdrop of the most amazing green mountain scenery I had eve seen. The valley we bumped and bounced through is virtually untouched. In our 2 hour bike ride we passed all of 3 cars, a bicycle and spotted a farmer in a rise paddy on the foot of a terraced mountain. The spectacular view completely enveloped our anxieties of all the possible terrible things that were bound to happen to us where we the unwitting stars in a made for TV horror flick entitled &#8220;2 foreign girls in the valley of the unknown.&#8221; Two root chewing (for them) and cigarette breaks (for us) later we finally arrived. It was 6 o&#8217;clock and dusk had already set in however, the monster of a mountain&#8217;s silhouette was unmistakable. We peeled ourselves off our riders&#8217; sweaty backs, attempted a few unsuccessful stretches and paid our riders, double the bargained price totally shocked at the kindness of these men. On top of that they took us to the cheapest hotel in town, a beautiful outdoorsy structure of four star caliber that was cheap only because nobody in their right leisurely minds would subject themselves to a two hour bumpy ride for fun.

Early the next morning, freshly showered and sore from the ride we ate a leisurely breakfast in the all glass rondavel dining hall. Everywhere was green Pasteur and cute little fields with straw hated farmers toiling away as the morning sun chased the morning mist around them. Disappointingly the mountain was shrouded in mist but it was still breath taking. I could not wait to go climbing. We hitched a ride from the hotel manager and were at the foot of the mountain by 8am. Then it started to rain. We bought some plastic rain covers but they soon proved useless. Except for the first 500 meters, Wu zhi shan is 1867m of vertical climb, all the way to the top! I found it easier to go on all fours supporting myself with roots and stumps of century old exotic trees. Wu zhi shan is tropical, heavily vegetated and bearing thousands of plant species, not to mention all the insects! The next 2 hours were no fun. The air was thick with a misty humidity, it was drizzling and the foliage was too thick to offer any view off the mountain. This was only the first half! The translation of Wu zhi shan is, 5 finger mountain each plateau representing a finger. It took 2 hours to reach the first finger, the view was unbelievable. Quiet, mysterious everywhere just thick vegetation. With nothing else to do, we had made friends with 2 Chinese gentlemen who were kind enough to share their water and snacks with us. Being city gals, we had brought with us, Chap Stick, mirror, cigarettes, a tiny canon digital camera which we almost lost when one of us slipped on our uphill climb and cash. It goes without saying that the only thing that actually proved slightly useful was the strawberry flavored Chap Stick I licked on every now and then to quell my hunger.
It was half an hour to the next finger, nothing spectacular there, much like the first one. The next hour to the middle finger was something to write home about. The temperature dropped to near freezing, I only felt it when I had peeled all my layers off because of the sweat only to hurriedly put them back on. By this time I was not tired, not thirsty, not much of anything really since adrenaline had taken over. I was single mindedly bent on reaching the top, it was not fun anymore, it was my challenge, my Everest. The mist by now was surrounding me, I could only see as far as my hand could stretch. I knew I had company by the sounds of my friends yelling their allegiance to this mountain that was kicking our adventurous butts. When you are hundreds of meters off the ground, it's not corny to yell out &#8220;Wu zhi shan wo ai ni&#8221; if it&#8217;s going to give you the next boost to get to the top! Looking at the mountain from the ground, you think, &#8220;piece of chocolate cake.&#8221; Being on the mountain with no way but up to go for the next, who knows since you can&#8217;t see past your forward step; you think, &#8220;oh my God.&#8221; Enduring near death experiences like jogging on what you think is a piece of heavenly flat surface only to abruptly stop in front of a 50 m drop right into the mountain or to negotiate your way around a piece of granite rock supported by a rusty chain you think, nothing you just do it because at this point on you have to beat the mountain, it has become your nemesis. I was not tired when I reached the top, the third finger which is the highest plateau. My body felt beaten, cold, hungry and thirsty but my mind was deceiving me. The last hour to the top taught me the equivalent of everything I learned during my high school years. As I slowly smoked my victory cigarette which incidentally was also food I started to cry. The scene of dotted villages through the misty haze was unbelievable. The dwarf trees that grew in awkward contorted shapes as if they were kowtowing to the sky were straight out of the classical oriental paintings. I am not ashamed to say I did not make it to the last two fingers, that would have just been too much for me considering we had no water, no food and no more cigarettes. Another two hours brought us back to the bottom and with that I endured a slight ankle sprain, a lower back injury from slipping on a slope and hitting a blunt stump on the way down, numerous bites from goodness knows what, rib locking hunger pains and dementia inducing adrenaline. I have a new respect for people who talk to themselves. They have seen the other side!

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Comments (1)


Jan 21, 2007 09:58 Reply


Hello, could you give the name and address of the hotel you went in? Such information are quite hard to find, so it would be great if you could mention it.Thanks

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