About Mount Huashan
Mount Huashan is located close to Huayin city, 120km from Xi’an the provincial capital of Shaanxi province. It is famous for its five peaks as well as its steep and narrow paths. It also has a section of walkway that is classed as the world’s most dangerous path. It is also home to several Taoist temples and is a revered Taoist mountain in China.
How to Get to Mount Huashan
Huashan North Railway Station is just 5km from the entrance to Mount Huashan, there are free shuttle buses operating between these two points. The buses are green in colour and numbered Huayin 1 and Huayin 2. There are also taxis available and cost around CNY20.
There are 29 fast trains each day between Xi’an North and Huashan North Railway Stations, the trains take between 31 and 48 minutes and a second class seat costs CNY54.50. There are seven high speed trains everyday from Beijing West taking around five hours and a second class seat costs CNY470.50. There are also direct trains daily from Shanghai and Guangzhou.
When is the Best Time to go to Mount Huashan
You will be able to see different beautiful scenery in each of the seasons, in the springtime it is often cloudy, summer has the most rain, autumn can be foggy and winter is cold and can be snowy, there will be snow on the peaks. The best time is on a clear day anytime between April and October.
Ticket Prices and Permits
Cable Car and Tourist Bus
There are two cable cars operating in the scenic area which can save you a lot of time to hike higher up the mountain, the cable cars operate daily from 7am until 7pm during the high season, from December until February they are in service from 8am until 6pm.
There is a cable car from Donggoukou to White Sparrow Temple and West Peak. It costs CNY280 for a return trip or CNY140 for one way. During the off season the costs are reduced to CNY240/120. There is a tourist bus from the Tourist Service Centre (Ticket Office) to Donggoukou where it will connect you to the cable car. It costs CNY80 for a return trip or CNY40 for a single journey. You can get off at the White Sparrow Temple and then continue on to the West Peak after visiting the temple, just retain your ticket.
The cable car to the North Peak operates from Wamiaogou and costs CNY150 for a return trip or CNY80 for a single. In the offseason this is reduced to CNY80/45. There is a tourist bus from the Tourist Service Centre to the start point of the cable car; it costs CNY40 for a return trip and CNY20 for one way.
What to see on the Summits
The best ways to get to see all the Attractions
At the base of the mountain you can visit the Jade Spring Temple without any climbing or trekking. You can then walk to the memorial archway in about 15 minutes. The next attraction is another five minute walk to the Five Dragon Bridge; this is adjacent to the ticket office.
After the ticket office the attractions come along at regular intervals, you can walk (and climb) to the Hundred Foot Crevice in about 2 hours with the Taoist Temple of A Group of Immortals a further 15 minutes of Trekking. Continuing on along this route will bring you to the East Peak in around 4-6 hours.
The East Peak
The East Peak is 2090 metres above sea level and a favoured spot for watching the sunrise. You will find a telescope is available here, the sunrises from 4.30am in the summer to 6am in the winter. One of the best and most scenic points on East Peak is the Immortals Palm Peak. It is considered to be one of the Eight Scenic Wonders of Xi’an. The veins of rock in the cliff look like a giant’s palm print.
If you have arrived at the East Peak in time for the sunrise then you can descend to the Heavenly South Gate in about 35 minutes and another 5 minutes will bring you to the Changkong Plank Road. A further 30 minutes and you will be at the South Peak.
The South Peak
The South Peak has the highest elevation in the scenic area at 2160 metres high. It is also the highest peak of the Five Sacred Mountains of China. Looking out from the peak you will be able to see the Yellow River far below. Close to the peak is the Taoist Baidi Temple, the host temple of the Deity Shaohao.
The West Peak
The West Peak is just 35 minutes of descending and then another ascent to this peak of 2086m. Here you will find the Taoist Temple Cuiyun Palace. Another 15 minutes of trekking and you will arrive at Middle Peak.
The Middle Peak
There is a Taoist temple on the Middle Peak called the Jade Maiden Temple. There is a legend surrounding this temple that the daughter of Qin Mugong (569-621AD) loved a man that played a vertical flute (tung-hsiao) and she gave up her life of royalty and became a hermit on the mountain at this point. Two other spiritual attractions nearby are Rootless Tree and Sacrificing Tree.
The North Peak
From the Middle Peak you should be able to reach the North Peak in under an hour. At the summit of the North Peak there are precipitous cliffs on all sides of the 1614m high summit. On three sides there are vertical cliffs and you can only gain access to the summit by climbing Ear Touching Cliff, you are literally climbing while your ear is close to the cliff. Once you have reached here you can walk for about 5 minutes to the cable car to descend the mountain.
The Wamiaogou Cable Car takes you directly to the North Peak of Mount Huashan, the cable car ride is 1500 metres long and takes around seven or eight minutes to reach the top. The second cable car begins at Donggoukou and stops at the White Sparrow Temple on the way to the West Peak; this cable car is 4211 metres long and takes around 20 minutes to reach the top.
Southern Peak Plank Road
The Southern Peak Plank Road or Plank Walk is a very narrow steep pathway built onto the side of a vertical cliff. It is considered to be the most dangerous place on the mountain. The pathway is about 30cm (12 inches) wide and if any Mount Huashan deaths occur it is likely to be along this feature.
Once you have passed through the Heavenly South Gate you will arrive at the plank walk. It is also known as the Changkong Plank Road. Although it is the most dangerous section there are lots of visitors that find it to be the most thrilling. This suspended path has a large chain linked to the mountain to cling onto and you then have to pull yourself up the steep incline. In some sections you have to face the cliff wall and make small steps while gripping the chain ropeway to haul your way slowly upwards. Many visitors to the mountain are too afraid to attempt this feature; I do tend to think I would not attempt it either.
Dangerous Passes on the Mountain
Thousand Foot Precipice
This is considered the first dangerous pass you are likely to encounter on your way around the scenic area. It is a very steep stairway of 70 degrees and features 370 steps with thick chains guarding you against a vertical drop. As you climb up the incline there is a small cave at the top, big enough for one person at a time. As you pass through the cave you are greeted by the sight of emerging into the open air, it is known as the Heavenly Well and you have just climbed the Mount Huashan Heavenly Stairs.
Immediately after emerging from the Thousand Foot Precipice you arrive at the next dangerous section, the Hundred-Foot Crevice. The cliffs here are topped by two rocks that have fallen and are wedged together. You have to go through the crevice beneath these two rocks. Many people feel scared that the two rocks may fall at any time. The two rocks have the names Scary Rock and Carefree Rock.
Black Dragon Ridge
You need to go through this ridge to arrive at the North Peak and it is more scary than dangerous. The ridge is 100 metres long and only about 1 metre wide. The middle section of the ridge is higher than the sides meaning you are on an exposed ridge walking with nothing to stop you from falling on either side.
The final climb up to the North Peak involves an extremely steep section of a Via Ferrata which combines steep steps cut into the cliff face and a chain link rope. It is a good idea to bring some gloves with you because you will need to grip these climbing aids very tightly.
Places to Stay
Huayin City where Huashan North Railway Station is located has more than 60 hotels and many of these are available for under CNY100 per night for a double room. The top rated hotels here are 4 star hotels and will cost between CNY3-400 per night for a standard room.
There are three hotels that I could find on the mountain itself, the Golden Sky Mountain Villa is located at the Golden Lock Pass and close to other scenic spots. It has comfortable rooms and good food. The Five-Cloud Peak Hotel is about 400m from the Golden Lock Pass and just a 20 minute walk from the East Peak, it is ideal if you want to view the sun rising from there. The Yuntai Mountain Villa is close to the cable car station close to the top of the North Peak.
The Best Places to Eat
There are lots of small stores all the way up the mountain and a general rule to follow is the higher up the mountain you are, the higher the prices become. If you can the best thing to do is to bring whatever food and drink you need with you. A bottle of water that costs CNY1-2 will cost CNY10 at the top, instant noodles sold in the shops for about CNY5 will cost CNY25 at the top. The hotels on the mountain serve food but it will be at inflated prices.
Recommendations and Tips
No matter what the weather elsewhere it will be windy on the mountain so you will need warm clothes even in the summer. If you plan on being at one of the summits at dawn it will be cold. You should take a rain jacket as it can often rain with little warning. Sports shoes with flat soles should be ok for walking and climbing.
When hiking you will need lots of time and energy, make sure you have enough food and water, two or three bottles should be enough, drink a little but often. Eat high calorie food but not foods that are dry and make you thirsty.
Buy anything you need at the foot of the mountain, it will be cheaper.