Huashan: Hiking The Martial Trail of Insanity

Discussion in 'Articles' started by SifuPhil, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. SifuPhil

    SifuPhil Lucky Cat Is Lucky

    Mt. Hua, or Huashan, is located in the central part of China near the city of Huayin. Known also as Xiyuè or “Western Great Mountain” it is one of China's most legendary locations and is ripe with religious significance as being the “home” of the Taoist religion and several of its main temples.

    But getting there is insanity.

    Definition of “Insanity”​

    That's right – walkways and handrails are for wimps. We want you to PROVE how faithful you are by sticking your feet into little holes in the side of a sheer mountain and holding onto a rickety chain, with nothing but thousands of feet of emptiness beneath you.

    THEN you can join our club.

    People do this not only in good weather but also in the middle of winter, and during high winds and torrential downpours. You also have to remember that you have people coming DOWN the trail as you're attempting to go UP. Notice any little rest stations along the way? Any sidings?

    They call it a “tourist destination”. I call it “Death on the Rocks”.

    Workin' on the chain …. gaaa-aa-ang ...​

    Notice that solid walkway held together with staples rejected by Officemax. Notice also how said walkway JUST ENDS. What's beyond the end of those little pieces of wood?

    Your Death. Quick and terrifying.

    Now I like to consider myself of a Taoist bent; I dig all the philosophy and the scary-looking demons and the hot bald-headed nuns, but THIS?!? I'd rather go over to the Buddhist camp – at least they have parachutes and pitons.

    But not the tourists who flock here to climb this mountain. They're mainly college kids, wearing typical college-kid gear T-shirts, sneakers and jeans. They have a backpack with some bottled water, a dime of weed and a dried-out pack of Trojans. Not quite what I would call “professional mountaineering gear”.

    Now although repeated Google searches have failed to find a single documented instance of death from walking this trail, all you have to do is LOOK at it. At certain points along the trail all you have going for you is your two strong hands and your two brass balls. Any or all of those four could momentarily fail and you'll be a Rorschach image on the ground far below.

    Now if you value your life at all you'll take the gondola that runs up the North peak, hike a short trail, and consider yourself lucky. In fact, the entire five-mountain range is a bit like Disneyland – there are five different “kingdoms” and you can have a great time at any of them. But if you're a hard-core tough-guy you'll roll up your sleeves and tackle the Great Western peak, on foot. You'll have to leave before the sun rises, though, because it'll take all day to get to the top.

    … IF you get there, that is.

    Now I've heard that the Chinese government has modified (read: “improved”) the access trail because of the increased amount of Western tourism. They've eliminated many of the most dangerous spots and put in modern safety gear in others. But it's still a daunting climb and you'll still need to keep your wits about you.

    All this, just to see the temple at the top.

    The Prize

    … that's IT?!? I put my life on the line, faced my own mortality and sweated blood all day long for an overgrown lawn ornament, a concrete garden arch and a couple of shitty-looking condos?!? Really?!?

    That's it – as soon as I get back down to the ground I'm joining the Scientologists! :cautious:
  3. Enkidu

    Enkidu Destroyer of your martial arts fantasies

    I bet you could really hock one hell of loogie from up there.
    Judah likes this.
  4. Judah

    Judah fights in tights

    Fook dat!!! I'm not afraid of heights or of falling but I'm shit scared of the deceleration trauma when I eventually hit the deck :(

    That's one tourist attraction I'll be missing if I ever go to china!
    SifuPhil likes this.
  5. Blade Maker

    Blade Maker Master

    serioulsy, am I to believe there isn't a faster pedestrian way up there... :whistle: Could you imagine doing that with all the tools and rocks... and concrete (apparently) and imagine the bill for getting the artisans up there... Holy Moo-la Batman... and someone had to do that trip regularly with a lot of food so the monks at the monastery can eat, i doubt they could grow much there.... was there a spring? something they could use to sustain themselves and plants. how many stayed there, was it just a care taker?
    SifuPhil likes this.
  6. Judah

    Judah fights in tights

    I was thinking something similar, like maybe this is the route for Gweilo and the locals take the elevator on the other side....
    SifuPhil and Blade Maker like this.
  7. MadoreGojuRyu

    MadoreGojuRyu Master

    That's it – as soon as I get back down to the ground I'm joining the Scientologists! :cautious:

    You would be better off just jumping off one of the cliffs and praying to various gods and see which one responds...let us know when you get an answer
    SifuPhil and Judah like this.
  8. Bruce

    Bruce Samurai

    A fall never killed anyone, it's the sudden stop at the bottom that does all the damage!
    SifuPhil and Enkidu like this.
  9. SifuPhil

    SifuPhil Lucky Cat Is Lucky

    It's my understanding that there are several smaller trails that lead up to alternate peaks on the Western Mountain, but only the one "full" path and the other shorter, easier path that starts where the gondola lands. The gondola actually follows a disused trail that was used by seven PLA rebels in 1949 to attack and overcome 100 Kuomintang soldiers. The trail has since been improved along with many of the other trails.

    But the Huashan Temple had a reputation as the most "hardcore" one; only devout Taoists, Imperial personnel and a few hardy locals would attempt the climb. Most would stop at another temple at the base of Huashan Mountain to worship. Supposedly there were TCM herbs that grew at the upper temple that were unavailable anywhere else, so I imagine there had to have been some sort of water available, even if they only collected rainwater. As for the concrete, etc. - I was just kidding in my description - I'm pretty sure all of that is carved from stone.

    One thing the Chinese never had a shortage of, and that was available labor. Temple residents probably paid locals the same rates Wal-Mart now pays their cashiers to bring up food and porn and stuff.
    Blade Maker likes this.
  10. Pedro

    Pedro Baek Doo San

    i'd like to have the guts to go up there... imagine the glory to be able to stuff the chest and say 'I did it!'

    ...and then pass out...
    SifuPhil likes this.
  11. Judah

    Judah fights in tights

    I'm just not one of those guys who climb mountains because they're there. I go around the fuckin things cos they're really high!
  12. Blade Maker

    Blade Maker Master

    that answers a number of my questions, thanx sifu
    SifuPhil likes this.

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