The Most Ambitious Adventure of Mountain Hiking Ever
It has often been suggested that the most dangerous destination for mountain hiking in the world is the hike up to Mount Huashan in China. It starts with the Heavenly Stairs, a long, steep narrow series of concrete steps which are tolerable at best. However, only the most courageous trekker would venture across Canglong Ridge (also known as the Black Dragon Ridge), which is even steeper and narrower, with very sharp drops to the left and right.
The next phase in this hike is a steep series of steps. Here, the climb becomes more severe as hikers reach West Peak Mountain, before climbing all the way to the top of Mount Huashan. The view from the top of the mountain is phenomenal and tourists who have been brave enough to reach the very top often wish that they could spend the rest of the day their admiring the view.
Unfortunately, the descent back down is said to be even more dangerous than climbing up the mountain. This is especially so in lower temperatures, when just one slip on the icy steps could send hikers to their death within seconds.
Another part of this hike involves a twenty foot series of chains which must be climbed with bare hands. The experience is akin to rock climbing but without any safety mechanisms to protect you from falling: you must reply upon sheer determination and your survival instinct.
Imagine walking on a plank of wood, think of a cliff and think of a 2000 metre drop – and you will be describing another part of the route. This section is particularly frightening, principally due to the fact that it is difficult not to see the drop to your right whilst you walk along the plank of wood that you fervently hope won’t break.
As you return and reach the long series of steps that take you back to the bottom, you will most likely feel relatively at ease, particularly in contrast with the experiences you have endured further up. Despite seeming terrifying when you were walking up them, the steps will appear to be simplicity itself if you have just survived walking along planks of wood that almost appear to be floating in mid air. The end will be near and before you know it the entire experience will seem like a dream. Your perspective of danger and fear will have been completely transformed forever.
It goes without saying that no one, regardless as to their level of hiking experience, should attempt to climb Mount Huashan unless they have the appropriate mountain gear and equipment. Even then, however, it is still discouraged. Those who do brave this dramatic and emotionally painful ‘ride’ may have recurring nightmares about it for years to come. During this experience, the distinction between life and death is little more than the distinction between your left foot and your right foot. The level of concentration required is immense and no one can afford to become distracted, even for a second. In this hike there are a million ways in which a hiker could be killed, but only one way in which to survive – which is to embrace the fear.