Tuesday, June 7, 2011

China Post #27 Huashan

On Saturday we all took a taxi from the Sofitel to the Xi'an North train station which is pretty far out towards the airport. The train station is new at this point and the trains that run through it are pretty high speed. We caught a train to the town of Huashan that only took 45 minutes with a stop (the bus is supposed to take 2.5 hours). Along the way we went past lots of farming land, each plot seemed to have a little building on it for the workers to store tools in or rest when it is really hot.
Then a quick taxi ride to the visitors center near the base of the mountain. We then had to catch a park bus, since cars are not allowed in the park (similar to what Zion does during high season and what Yosemite has talked about doing), to get to the base of the cable cars and trail to the North Peak which is the lowest of the 5 peaks. Here is a map of the mountain and believe it or not, the the steepness is not exaggerated.
Here are some people heading up the stairs to the North Peak with the cable cars hanging above them.
And since it was a holiday weekend and we got a late start, here is the 2 hour long line that we had to wait in before getting on the cable car.
Since the line made countless switch backs to squeeze so many people into a small space (about 3,000 in 2 hours) we got to see several people many many times. These two were taking a lock engraved with their names up to lock to one of the chains along the route. They were also using it to lock themselves together in line by their purse straps, the man purse strikes again.
After taking the cable car up to the North Peak you hike along a stunning ridge line that finishes with this exposed stair case right along the backbone of the mountain.
Here is a shot looking back down along the ridge line. The steep stair case is visible in the lower portion of the photo.
All along the trail and steps where engraved locks with their red banners attached. There were certainly places that were more popular than others to leave the locks, such as this one where chains were hung down the rock face.
Eventually, with mom getting worried about having enough time to get back down to the cable car before they shut down for the night I made a run for the South Peak since I had heard about a really exposed path leading up to it. I was disappointed to find that the path was just steps and paved path the whole way. Then up on the summit, this was the set up.
You had a photographer to take your picture who then handed a card to another person that took it down to a flat area just below the summit. At the flat area was another person with a computer and a pretty big photo printer that would print your summit photo for you to take down.

Also on the summit was this little pond.
More locks
Here is Linda on the way down
Along the route in a couple of spots were these guys standing on the side singing for money.
I had not noticed on the way up but the general rule here is that children under 1.2 meters are free, but in this situation, under 1.5 meters was half price. We should have gotten some money back on Linda's cable car ticket since she was standing on the balls of her feet once she figured out what I was trying to get a picture of.
Anyway, word to the wise. Visit Huashan if you have the chance, it is incredible. Don't do it on a holiday weekend. Get an early start. The exposed trail might start from between the West and South Peaks and heads up towards the South Peak, so head to the West Peak then follow signs to the Cliffside Trail.

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