Mount Hua also known as Hua Shan is a mountain situated near the town of Huayin in Shaanxi Province, China. It is one of the five great mountains of China and has a very long history which holds religious significance. This mountain is 2154 metre tall. There are five main peaks that this mountain has with breathtaking cliff faces amongst which the highest is the South Peak having a height of 7070 feet. This mountain stands true to its status as the steepest mountain under heaven. It is also popularly known by tourists as one of the most dangerous Hiking Trail in the World as this mountain has a few steep ascents via the narrow passes which makes it difficult to climb. During the summer months it gets a little overcrowded which is the biggest danger to safety. Hua Shan was historically the place where there were influential Taoist monasteries and it was also the centre for the practise of traditional Chinese Martial arts. This mountain is amongst the five holy Taoist mountains of China.
In the 2nd century BC there was a Taoist temple located at the base of this mountain called as the Shrine of the Western Peak. Taoists used to believe that the god of the underworld lives in the mountain. This temple located at the base of the mountain was often used by the people for spirit mediums to contact the God. Later, Taishan became a popular pilgrimage place in China but Hua Shan did not because of the inaccessibility of its summits. It was visited only by the local pilgrims and it was also a very important place for the immortality seekers as many Chinese medicines were believed to be found there. In the later years all the mountains that were located on the mountain came under the control of Taoist Quanzhen School. And in the year of 1998, the Hua Shan management committee agreed to turn over the mountain temples to the China Taoist Association. This action was taken in order to help protect the environment from poachers and loggers.
There are three main routes that will lead you to Hua Shan’s North Peak which is the lowest one amongst the five major peaks. The most popular route is the traditional one in Hua Shan Yu which was developed in the third to fourth century A.D. It winds for 6 kilometres from the village of Hua Shan towards the North Peak. Another route is the new one in Huang Pu Yu which follows the cable car to the North Peak and is also the ancient trail which was used prior to the Tang Dynasty and had been known only to the local villagers living nearby until the year 1949 when a local guide used this route to climb the North Peak. Another trail is known as the route intelligent takeover of Hua Shan which was reinforced in the year 2000. There are cable car system station built right next to the beginning and end of this trail.
After reaching the North Peak there are a series of trails that rise up to the Canglong Ling which is 300 metres climb on the top of a mountain ridge. This trail was in fact the only one which led to the remaining four peaks namely the west peak which is 2038 metres high, the Centre peak 2042 metres high, the East peak being 2100 metres high and the south peak being the highest of all with a height of 2154 metres. However in the year 1998 a new path had been built to the east around the ridge.
Historically, this place has been a retreat for hardy hermits as access to this mountain was only available to the strong willed people. Later in the 1980’s Chinese students began to test their courage and visited this mountain. However there have been many fatalities here hence the government decided to build stone steps and wider paths along with railings and some new tracks were opened and one way routes have been created at the steep parts of the mountain. Thus with all these measures tourism at Hua Shan has increased and there are many people who visit this mountain. Recently a new cable route has been opened too at the West peak which makes the visit to this mountain very easy and enjoyable.
Watching a sunrise from the East Peak by attempting a night hike is one of the things recommended to do as the sun rise from this point is beautiful. However, you need to be careful as there are people descending the mountain and make sure you carry flashlight, extra batteries and some warm clothes. Later while descending you can plan to ascend down the very famous Yun Ding which are narrow steps probably half the length of your feet and iron chains are attached on the sides which may help you. There is a Sparrow Hawk Cliff one of the hardest trail on Mount Hua Shan which needs to be descended in order to reach the Chess Pavilion. But the view from this Chess Pavilion is magnificent offering beautiful scenery below the east peak. Thus, you can plan a trip to this mountain only if you are an adventure lover and love mountain climbing. But it is sure to give you a beautiful experience of a lifetime.