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!