“The Lonely Mountain! Bilbo had come far and through many adventures to see it, and now he did not like the look of it in the least.”
It was at 7:10pm that we realized that our overnight train to Huangshan – the Yellow Mountain – would leave at 8:15pm. That’s when panic set in. 8:15pm was over two hours before what we had thought (D had miscalculated the 24-hour time notation) so we abandoned dinner, to frantically pack, walk the dog, and somehow get to the train station, hoping our Uber would ignore traffic rules to get us there in time.
Against better judgement, we had decided to take the overnight train to the Yellow Mountains. The 12-hour overnight train is always a one-of-a-kind experience. The second class cabins have three bunks of beds and no doors to shield sleepers from the hallway lights. The first class cabins have doors and blankets, but still the same chain-smoking uncles littering the hallways, and the same lull of the train. Our cabin mate was a middle-aged woman who went straight to sleep, which was the best-case scenario. We fell asleep rocked by the train’s lull and the polyethylene smell of the cabin
When you get to the Yellow Mountain and start climbing, it feels as if the clouds are going through you. Huangshan is a brutal climb. It’s 8km, straight uphill, with no real safety barriers, and 60 degree inclines. It’s moments of hugging the mountain wall, because there are no ropes or no safety restraints. It’s the perpetual reassurance that “you have one hour left”, although it’s really been an hour since someone told us we have an hour left and we still keep hearing the same refrain.
The climb up takes about 3.5 hours, not including the 1.5km+ trek up the the actual summit. On the way up, we pass countless middle-aged men with calves of steel, who carry up 200lb packs of food to be sold at the top of the mountain. They strain under the weight of their packs. We eat cucumbers soaked in water to rehydrate. We rest every 200 steps, because the climb becomes unbearable and my back is soaked in sweat. My phone tells me that we’ve climbed over 333 floors.
But the view at the top makes it all worth it.
What a great view! Climbing those stairs is not the easiest thing in the world, I still remember when we went up Huashan near Xi’an. On the way back down my knees were in pain and my legs were shaking 🙂
Agreed! We took the gondola down, but everyone who climbed down too said that it’s much harder on the knees. I would also be terrifying of the view looking down
For me it is always much harder going up rather than down with my fear of heights. Going down I know I will get back to safety :p
Isn’t there a saying about how after seeing the five major mountains of Buddhism in China that you have no desire to see any other mountains, but after climbing Huangshan, you have no desire even for those five mountains because there’s no way they can compare?
I climbed Huangshan in 2010 and have been up a few other mountains since then, but I’ve never seen or experienced anything quite like Huangshan before or after that. I’ll never forget being on a vertical set of stairs and exhausted when the scenery around me suddenly disappeared into a cloud and lighting started striking. I crammed into so many shelters with so many tourists throughout that day, but that was part of what made the experience.
It’s really one of a kind, isn’t it? Thank you for sharing your experience! I’ve climbed many mountains back in Mass with my family, but have never seen anything close to Huangshan.
thank you for reading my blog! 🙂
It was a pleasure!
SueT唐 梦 琇 says
Love your photos – amazing. I went to Huangshan in middle of winter and it was snowing…most amazing place to visit in the snow..stunning. This is my post on my visit if you are interested and/or have time (https://tangmengxiu.wordpress.com//?s=yellow+mountain&search=Go)
Thank you for sharing your post about Huangshan. Those snow photos are gorgeous!! Snow is something I’ve missed the most living in Shanghai, which gives me another reason to go back to the mountain 😀
SueT唐 梦 琇 says
Thank you Maria. Do hope you go back and post on it.