Hua Shan – 15000 steps to heaven

China has five holy mountains that used to be taoist pilgrimmage sites, but have now turned into tourist attractions. Cablecars connect bus packed parking lots with the soaring peaks that were once reserved for the most tenacious and persisting only. Because a few years back, these peaks were only reached by climbing thousands of stairs built and carved into the mountainside.
From Xi’an I went to Hua Shan, one of these holy mountains, a two hour bus ride away. I decided to walk up, not yet knowing what was awaiting me.


After just short of 4000 steps I reached the North Peak, which was engulfed in the same mist that had accompanied me all the way up, all the way since entering China, in fact. Another 3000 or so steps brought me to the “real” peaks (at around 2000m). From there I was overlooking an ocean of clouds with only a few island peaks sticking out. It was absolutely incredible and well worth the effort!


I had to try the plank walk, a not very stable looking construction (with a safety line though) that lead along a vertical cliff to a small temple. It was fun, exhiliarating even, but spoiled a litte by the masses of tourists that wanted to do the same thing.



Climbing from peak to peak I stayed on the mountain almost till sunset, absorbing all the sunlight I could get. Then I had to decide: descend by cable car or on foot. Looking at the prices it became clear that I would walk (the more rewarding option anyways). So by the end of the day I had taken around 15000 steps – a few too many to not be reminded of this adventure every time I moved for the next week or so…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *