Huashan Trail – World’s Most Dangerous Hiking Trail
Situated just 120 kilometers East of Xiâ€™an City, in Shaanxi province, Huashan is one of Chinaâ€™s five sacred mountains and one of the countryâ€™s most popular tourist attractions. Itâ€™s appreciated for the beautiful natural scenery and the ancient Taoist temples, but Huashan is most famous for the dangerous hiking trail to the summit.
Known as the â€œNumber One Precipitous Mountain under Heavenâ€, Mount Huashan proudly lives up to its reputation through its incredibly dangerous hiking trail. Thatâ€™s what you have to keep in mind if you plan to tackle this beast: Huashan Trail is not about mountain-climbing but hiking. As such, you donâ€™t get to use special equipment that could save your life – itâ€™s just you, the mountain and if you think ahead, a pair of gloves.
The people who accept the mountainâ€™s hiking challenge are usually young daredevils using this opportunity to show-off their â€œmad skillsâ€; unfortunately many of them have fatal accidents. Although many speak of around 100 deadly accidents on the Huashan Trail every year, â€œthanksâ€ to Chinese censorship there are no official records of any such incidents.
Huashan Mountain has five peaks, which when looked from a certain angle make the mountain look like a flower (â€œhuaâ€ in Chinese). Thereâ€™s the East Peak (Facing Sun Peak), Middle Peak (Jade Maiden Peak), West Peak (Lotus Peak), North Peak (Cloud Terrace Peak) and the South Peak, the tallest and most dangerous of them all. If youâ€™re brave and lucky enough to reach its summit you are rewarded with an incredible view of the whole mountain complex.
The most perilous part of the Huashan Trail is considered to be the â€œChangong Zhandaoâ€ a 13 feet long, 1 foot wide plank path along a vertical cliff, where just one false step means falling in the abyss below. There is also a chain around the cliff so, if you plan to take this path, pack a mountain-climbing harness and strap yourself to the chain. There are also portions of the trail where climbers only have a chain and some foot-holds in the rock as support.
The steep, practically vertical Heaven Stairs are no breeze to climb either, if someone were to slip and tumble down the people behind him would be in terrible danger as well, because the staircase is very narrow.
Recent reports say the Chinese authorities have made considerable progress in making the Huashan Trail safer. Perhaps theyâ€™ve realized it was too dangerous for people that didnâ€™t have the proper physical condition to pass certain parts of the pass. Extreme weather conditions don’t make a traverse any easier either.
If you want to skip the harrowing Huashan Trail ordeal, you can just take one of the cable-cars directly to the North Peak and enjoy the breathtaking view. Then again, you wonâ€™t be able to brag about conquering the worldâ€™s most dangerous hiking trail.
Looking at the photos and the video I canâ€™t help wondering how they managed to build that plank path and what happened to the people who built itâ€¦