China’s Huashan Death Path – a journey between heaven and earth
The China Fear Trail, as this is the name of the famous hiking route on the slope of Mount Hua (Huashan), which is considered the most dangerous in the world. Huashan has long been known as the most precipitous mountain in China and is rumored to claim up to a hundred lives a year for inadvertent hikers. But this does not stop millions of tourists who dream to conquer the most dangerous path in the world, and resting from the adrenaline rush, drink incomparable tea in a Taoist temple at 2160 meters above sea level.
- What is the Huashan Death Trail in China ;
- The most dangerous trail in the world: the history of appearance ;
- The treasures of Mount Huashan: what to see besides the trail of death ;
- China’s mountain death trail: accidents ;
- Huashan Fear Trail in China: how to get there and when to go ;
- What is important to know before visiting the Huashan Fear Trail ;
- Death Trail in China – video .
The path does not inspire confidence.
What is the Huashan Death Trail in China
Huashan Fear Trail is a boardwalk anchored on a steep cliff on the southern slope of Hua. The unfenced walkway opens straight up into a chasm, and the only support is a carabiner chain linked to a cliff-mounted belaying chain. The situation is complicated by dizzying views from a height of two kilometers – it is not easy to endure the road over the abyss, even for those who have no fear of heights.
Even someone with no fear of heights can’t endure it.
The Fear Trail is only about 130 meters long. It consists of three sections:
The upper one is the safest and easiest to walk. This is a kind of training, where tourists can get used to safety harnesses and carabiners, which they bought at the beginning of the trail. The length of this section is about 20 m, width – 70 cm, there is an iron fence.
For safety purposes, some sections are equipped with iron rails.
Middle – 10-meter section along the almost vertical rock. Tourists go down the so-called “ladder” (essentially, iron bars, hammered into the cleft). In addition to safety ropes, there is only a chain to hold on to during the descent.
You can hold on to the chain while descending.
Bottom is the most dangerous and scary part. It was this part gave the name “the trail of death Huashan” in China, it was here made freezing bloody pictures of people moving over the precipice on a narrow ledge (width in some places less than 30 cm). The wooden planking of the “road to the sky” is supported by wedges fixed in holes in the rock. And in some sections there is no planking – tourists are advancing in lines, clinging to the steep wall and carefully shifting feet from one stone to another.
The wooden planking is supported only by wedges fixed in holes in the rock.
The World’s Most Dangerous Trail: History of the Appearance
Huashan is one of China’s five sacred mountains, to which emperors, clergymen, and ordinary people have long made pilgrimages. The five sacred peaks are located on each side of the world: south, west, north, east, and center. Mount Hua represents the West and has always been considered the abode of the god of the underworld, so it attracted those who wanted to establish a connection with the afterlife. To communicate with the spirits, a small temple was built as early as the 2nd century BC at the foot of Huashan, and over time the slopes and tops of the mountain were dotted with sanctuaries, some of which have survived to this day.
The Gates of the Golden Castles
Taoist and Buddhist monks have since ancient times gone into voluntary seclusion on Mt. Hua. This is how the routes for climbing the precipitous slopes arose. They were never easy – it was believed that the mountain is conquered only by those who are strong in spirit or “found the way.
The most popular trail up Huashan Yu (“Huashan Gorge”) to this day was laid as early as the 3rd century AD, and then strengthened and expanded during the Tang Dynasty. The second trail is a little younger – it dates back to the 8th century. According to legend, only the locals knew about it. During the civil war, they pointed the way to seven soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army of China, who secretly climbed it to the northern peak and captured more than 100 soldiers of the Kuomintang army.
The Huashan Death Path itself, like many things in China, is also far from a modern invention. It was arranged by the Taoist monk He Zhizhen, who, according to legend, achieved immortality on Mount Huashan. It was He Zhizhen who carved the first stone “steps” in the rock, on which he mounted the boardwalks.
View from above
Treasures of Mount Huashan: What to see besides the trail of death
Huashan consists of five peaks connected by hiking trails. Most hikers are limited to the first, the lowest (1,614 m) North summit, which can be reached by cable car.
The trail itself and the observation deck on the section closest to the cable car are crowded, but there are far fewer hikers from there. Only the bravest make it to the death trail.
In addition to the “road of fear,” there are more than 210 attractions on the mountain – observation decks, natural beauties, historic sites, temples and pavilions.
Scarlet ribbons tied for good luck
Among the most interesting places in Mt:
- Black Dragon Ridge, a staircase of 530 steps with a 45-degree slope along a narrow ridge of the mountain (about 70 cm wide) that drops off into an abyss on both sides.
- The gate of the golden castles is a stone arch reminiscent of a castle tower, considered in ancient times a gateway to heaven. The iron railings surrounding the road are studded with thousands of golden locks and scarlet ribbons “for good luck.
- The Chess Pavilion is an elegant Song Dynasty arbor with a chess table carved out of stone.
- Huashan Tea House – once a Taoist monastery, now a small tea house at 2,160 meters above sea level.
China’s Death Mountain Trail: accidents
Climbing Huashan is dangerous and suitable only for people with good physical training. According to unofficial data, up to 100 tourists per year die on Hua. The Chinese authorities neither confirm nor deny this statistic, but fatal accidents on the Huashan Mountain Death Trail in China periodically pop up in the press.
For example, in 2018, one of the hikers, who was walking up the most dangerous section, suddenly unbuckled both carabiners, turned around, and jumped into the abyss in front of his companions. And in 2019 an accident was reported when a young female hiker tried to take selfies while climbing up, but she couldn’t hold on to the ledge and crashed into the gorge.
Every year up to 100 hikers die here
China’s Huashan Death Path: how to get there and when to go
Huashan Mountain is about 120 km from Xi’an. It can be reached from Xi’an by high-speed train – the trip takes about 30 minutes. There are free shuttles from the station to the foot of Huashan Mountain. There is also a bus from the city to Huashan – travel time is approximately 1.5 hours.
If you want to visit the Huashan Road of Fear, you can combine the trip with sightseeing in Xi’an – including the famous terracotta army or the ancient city walls.
It will take at least 5 to 7 hours to walk around all five peaks of the famous mountain, depending on your physical condition. A cable car can help shorten the way, but during the season the line to board takes 2-3 hours. It will also take at least an hour and a half to two hours to get from the end of the cable car to the scare trail. There are several hostels and hotels on the mountain, where you can spend the night and admire the magnificent sunset and sunrise at the same time.
The sunrise or sunset on Mount Huashan is truly an unforgettable experience. Photo: ekd.me
Huashan is open to visitors all year round in good weather. The best months to visit are April, May, September and October. In winter and early spring, the summit is uncomfortable because of the cold and icing, and in the summer months it rains. There is a very large influx of local tourists during school vacations (July through August) and national holidays (May Day, April 30-May 3, Foundation Day of the People’s Republic of China, October 1-7, etc.).
What’s important to know before visiting the Huashan Scare Trail
- People under 150cm tall, over 50 years old, suffering from heart disease, hypertension, etc. are not allowed to visit the death trail;
- In addition to the cable car to the northern peak, there is also a “cable car” to the western peak. It has a much smaller queue, but is closed more often due to bad weather;
- Payment for the cable car and insurance can only be made in cash or through Chinese payment applications – credit cards are not accepted;
- Footwear should be as secure and comfortable as possible – no flip-flops, heels or sandals;
- You can bring a pair of non-slip gloves to hold on to the chains with more confidence;
- The Trail of Death is a dead end on the trail. In order to return, you will have to walk over the abyss in the opposite direction.
Death Trail in China – Video
Want to take the Huashan Fear Trail without putting your life in danger? Watch the video!
Editor: Daria Ivanyushkina
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Huashan – trail of death: a dizzying trek for daredevils
One of the most popular extreme trails, the Trail of Death, attracts hundreds of thousands of desperate hikers every year who want to prove their own fearlessness to themselves and the world. Hanging above the abyss at a height of more than two kilometers, the trail is located in the Huashan Mountains and is considered sacred. Since ancient times, monks who practiced Taoism and sought immortality walked it. They paved dozens of trails in the mountains to take them to the caves and there, in solitude and silence, to meditate. Looking at today’s pictures of tourists on the trail of death, it is eerie to think that once people walked here without insurance…
Where is the Huashan Mountain
Located near the city of Xi’an, within a few hours’ train ride in Shaanxi Province, near the center of China, “Mount Flower Mountain” (as its name is translated from Chinese) is a peculiar sight. The rock has five peaks, named after the sides of the world: south, north, west, east and central. Many of the hiking trails on the mountain that travelers take do not involve much risk. Is that for the dizzying trekking skill, good physical fitness, patience and comfortable shoes. After all, tourists, climbing to the tops of the mountain have to overcome dozens of kilometers. At first sight many fall off their feet from fatigue. But people always have a chance to rest in comfort: there are guest houses in the mountains. Accommodation fee: $ 120 for a single room and up to $ 40 for a room with neighbors, which can be up to 20 people. There are ropeways here, by the way, but many tourists come here not to look for easy ways.
Death Path on the Mountain: the length of the route
To get to the trail, hikers have to hike 12 kilometers, then stand in a queue for hours (during peak season) and finally get a chance to set foot on a dangerous path, seemingly hastily made of flimsy wooden planks. By the way, every spring a dozen intrepid Chinese workers maintain the trail. They check the safety anchors and replace rotten boards. There are no railings or fences on the trail.
Avid hikers are advised to take fabric gloves with them so as not to chafe their hands while climbing the chains. At the end of the trail you can check out the tea house, which used to be a temple. Then you have to go back the same way. Curiously, hikers who walk to the beginning of the trail right here, on the narrow planks, meet those who have just stepped on the trail… You have to think about how to pass other hikers and take selfies at the same time for a keepsake.
Hikers have to walk about 30 meters (the length of the Huashan Death Path), holding on to the iron chains of the stone walls, before reaching a special platform that offers an incredible view of the mountains and surroundings.
It’s a scary place to be when it’s windy. The wind literally blows you off your feet. It is clear that tourists are provided with safety harnesses and special ropes with carabiners, but the very thought of falling into the abyss makes the blood run cold…
Peculiarities and variants of the ascent to the trail of death
There are two main entrances to the mountain, from the north and from the west, neither of which includes the path of death. It is up to the hikers to take this path. So, after paying for the entrance ( more than $30), along the stone path on the north peak leading up, hikers begin their ascent of the mountain. There is another way, under the cable car, it is an endless staircase steps in the rock and is considered shorter. To the elevator takes a special bus.
Tourists say that on the way they often come across shops with water and snacks, and all sold at three prices, so going to the mountains, it is better to take care of provisions in advance. You should also dress according to the weather, taking into account that climbing the steep mountains is energy-intensive and too warm clothes would be uncomfortable. On some stairs and really have to climb, clinging his hands to the narrow steps.
What is the attraction of the tour?
- Pilgrims eager to get to the mountain can be understood, because it is a religious shrine and it is an honor to worship there. But what draws Western tourists here? There are at least five reasons:
- Lack of extreme. On the edge of a cliff adrenaline will go over the top of even the most desperate daredevil. People come here for the emotions and vivid impressions. For many, Mount Huashan and the Death Path appear on their wish list, and later, if the trip takes place, go to the list of achievements. To visit this legendary place means to challenge oneself. Especially since the world looks different from a bird’s eye view. How exactly? It is worth to see for yourself.
- The opportunity to meet the dawn and admire the sunset in a tent. Romantics and lovers of mountains will feel at ease here. And they do not have to pass the trail of death. The mountains have incredible energy. People who conquered the mountain, internally change and rethink many ordinary things. The mountains are a place of power.
- The opportunity to tie a ribbon on the top of the mountain or swear eternal love, throw the key into the abyss. It’s a classic to leave a mark as a sign that the mountain is conquered. At the top of the sacred mountain, the observation deck is festooned with bright ribbons and locks. People dream of great feelings and want to seal the bond with a lock and key ritual.
- Show off cool selfies to friends and posterity. Sit, dangling their feet over the abyss: such a photo is guaranteed to get thousands of likes to its owner and remain in history.
Myths and interesting facts about the trail of death
Accidents on Mount Huashan interest many people. The trail of death… If people really used to walk on it without insurance, it was very easy to fall down. Rumor has it that up to 100 people a year fall off the trail into the abyss. But official statistics refute the accidents. It’s a myth. Perhaps the rumors are spread on purpose to tickle the nerves of tourists and thereby entice them to the dangerous attraction?
Another myth about the Huashan Death Trail has to do with the fact that you can only get to the top of the mountain on narrow planks. This is not true. There are easier and safer ways. For example, a cable car.
Interesting fact! The Chinese have invented chromakey for those who do not dare to walk on narrow planks, but do not want to lose face. Instead of the background, they paste the view of the trail over the precipice, and the tourist can take selfies or a video of what he supposedly conquered the most dangerous attraction in the world.
Reviews and impressions of tourists about the walk is not for the faint of heart
In Instagram you can find hundreds of videos and pictures of tourists who have already been on the trail of death. No one was left indifferent and no one regretted the extreme path. Many complained about the large queues to the trail and the oncoming streams of tourists. Travelers noted that the place is very picturesque and atmospheric. There were also those who said that the trail is not as dangerous as everyone thinks it is, and tourists do not feel much fear when they pass it. However, people often wrote that they have seen hikers who could not even step out of fear of heights.
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There is traffic on the trail: you can walk no more than half an hour, because there are enough people who want to, even in low season. The most popular month for visits is September, also a large stream of tourists comes from May to November. Admission to the trail costs $5, essentially paying for the safety rope. All belongings can be left in the storage cabin, so they do not inadvertently fall into the abyss. You can even go to the trail without your phone and camera, because you can take pictures at a special booth on the way. They say many tourists are constantly losing their smartphones here, which time and again fall out of the selfie sticks.
Perhaps this is just a marketing ploy to make the tourist pay extra, also for pictures. Therefore, it is impossible to unequivocally answer the question of how much it costs to climb the Huashan Mountain. After all, on the way tourists will meet souvenir shops, in which they may well leave the money. Plus meals or overnight accommodations here are also worth a lot of money, so it is desirable that the tourist with a minimum of $ 100 per person. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth it. Do not believe me? Take a look at the incredible photos taken by eyewitnesses or watch the videos taken at the time of the trail. From what you see, you are sure to take your breath away, and the question of whether it is worth it to go to China, to the Huashan Mountains – will not even arise.
This article uses pictures taken from publicly available internet sources and photo banks, without attribution and authorized for commercial use under CC0 Creative Commons license.
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I love travel, good music and books, tell you where to go and what to do in another country. I consider myself a person of the world in the full sense of the word. Since childhood I loved to travel, go hiking, the hobby grew into a full-fledged hobby for life. On the road you get to know yourself and your capabilities, learn the culture of different countries, become a little wiser. On the other hand, it’s freedom. The freedom to be each time a discovery for those people you meet along the way.