Below is a step-by-step guide detailing how you too can experience this journey
Option A: Fly in to Xi’an
Option B: Take buses, taxis, river boats, and some overnight trains
I got to Xi’an the second way and it took me about two weeks to do so. However, getting to Xi’an was an adventure in and of itself. I got to meet lots of unique people and see some amazing things. I highly recommend choosing Option B if you can.
Step 3: The bus ride will last approximately 3 hours. It will conclude right at the base of Mt. Huashan in a city that looks somewhat run-down.
Most are pretty beat-up, but it only adds to the adventure.
Option A: Take a tram up to Mt. Huashan. This will cost you about 5 US dollars and will take approximately 5 minutes.
Option B: Walk up to Mt. Huashan. The walk will last about 4-5 hours. You better get started in the morning if you pick this option. Be ready to scale several steep cliffs with only a linked chain for support (see video and pictures below). This path will really test your cardio. Imagine walking on a stairmill machine continuously for five hours. That’s what this path is like.
I chose Option B. Just warning you: it was a fucking bitch. However, I was doing nothing but drinking beer for about two weeks before arriving at Mt. Huashan (as beer is cheaper than clean water in China). I’m pretty sure all that beer consumption had a hindering effect on my cardio.
Step 6: Mt. Huashan is divided into five peaks: North, South, East, West, and Central Peak. Together, the peaks look a bit like the fingers on a hand. After a 4-5 hour hike, you’ll arrive at North Peak, which is at the base of the other peaks. North Peak looks like this:
Step 8: Once you finish climbing the Heavenly Stairs you’ll arrive at Black Dragon Ridge.
Step 9: Black Dragon Ridge will lead to Canglong Ridge which leads to Jinsud Pass. It’s all basically one long row of stairs. Jinsud Pass will take you to West Peak. West Peak is the safest peak of the mountain. It’s a good idea to go here first just so you get used to the way the mountain is formed and how it feels. I was pretty fucking tired at this point because I had already been walking up an endless row of stairs for six hours. My cardio sucked and this mountain was really exploiting that fact. Plus, it was raining heavily, which made the hike exponentially more dangerous. I had to walk at a snail’s pace the whole way and, even so, I still fell a couple times.
Step 10: Once you get to West Peak, I recommend you stop for a while to take it all in. I spent a good hour just sitting and enjoying the scenery. Below are some pictures from West Peak, but they don’t do it justice. It looks so much more incredible in person.
Best of luck to you, and I hope my adventures will inspire you to go on some adventures of your own.
1. I climbed Mt. Hau in June. It was still pretty cold then, especially with the wind and rain. However, I just wore shorts, a shirt, and a Puma wind breaker and did just fine.
2. You may be wondering just how dangerous this hike really is. To be completely honest, certain parts of Mt. Hau are pretty treacherous. Safety standards are nonexistent at that place. If you’re afraid of heights and terrified by the thought of being at the edge of cliff at all times, do not attempt this hike.
3. There are places located around the five peaks that sell soup and water, so you don’t necessarily need to worry about bringing food with you or running out of water.
Climbing Mt. Hau was one of the most unique experiences in my life. I am beyond grateful that I had the chance to experience something like that. There is definitely some risk involved but, in the end, it is absolutely worth it.