© 2011 notworkrelated - David Rutter & Helen Roscoe. All rights reserved. notworkrelated Huangshan Tunxi

China – Huangshan Mountain…steps, steps and more steps! – 9th December

The bus met us outside the hostel in Tunxi at 7am and we found a couple of seats at the back of the smallish bus. Sitting at the back on these things is never a good idea when you’re in the more rural areas; not a lot of space and its a bumpy ride! It was a local bus with most people making their way to work. It took us about an hour to reach Tangkou which is the closest village with transport links directly to the start of the paths of Huangshan Mountains. You will always find your way around by pointing to a map or just looking for where most people are heading! Here there is a bus station with coaches upon coaches lined up ready to take you to either the west or the eastern paths to the summit. It’s a little like a theme park, it doesn’t really seem reflect any other mountaineering experience we’ve had before, except for the alpine ski resort feel. Anyway you choose which way you want to go and then get the bus to that entrance point.

The bus costs around 15 yuan per person and most people tend to head to the eastern steps or they get the cable car! We had read in the Lonely Planet and on some other travel blogs about the best routes and views etc also so we had an idea of what to expect. Once you arrive at the entrance point to the mountain there are of course more entrance fees to get in. With it being off season we paid around about 100yuan to access the routes which start with steps, leading to more steps and so on. We started pretty early at 8.30am and passed the local marathon club who seem to team up together for big adventures, yodelling into the cliff tops…we sped past them early on so as not to get too caught up in their crazy ways. It is perhaps the one mountain that everyone in China wants to climb. The scenery is beautiful there is no doubt about it, but it’s annoying for us that they have built a path all the way from start to finish. Why can’t there be any nice trails to hike up, something like Snowdon or Mt Blanc would offer way better options for hiking without trying to make it all into one bit tourist trap. We’re just glad we went off season as witnessing the video footage on our way up showed thousands of people in the summer season making their way up and down the mountain. Some of the paths are also pretty narrow and close to the edge so it wouldn’t be pleasant at all to be there amongst the masses.

It took us around 3 hours to reach the first station which is where the cable car goes to, from here there are many paths that lead towards other higher points on the mountain, one place that had outstanding views but with a ridiculous name was Beginning to Believe Peak, on the sign on the way up was something like ‘seeing is believing, you’ll only believe it when you reach the heaven peak’…or something just as cheesy! Other peaks were climbed and at times we were the only ones there, very refreshing in the circumstances. We found our way to Bright Summit Peak where everyone crowds to when the sunsets and rises, there were already lots of people there waiting in anticipation. From here we walked to find our accommodation for the night. This was situated behind one of the hotels past the Bright Summit Peak.

We went for the cheap option on accommodation front, but it really was pretty poor and perhaps paying the extra 20 yuan for the night in one of the better budget hotels would have been a more pleasant experience (we paid 100yuan for a dorm). Dave and I were split up into single sex dorms and they were in a cold, damp basement. Further down the hallway were old, mouldy looking mattresses that didn’t fill us with any confidence! The good thing was we got there before anyone else so we managed to enjoy clean, hot showers before setting out to enjoy the sunset.

We found a spot away from the busy areas for the sunset along with a few others and took in the views. Putting all of the steps behind us and hotels on the top of the peaks, we managed to find a peaceful spot with a stunning landscape and sunset to fit. It was really peaceful.

The food isn’t good on the mountain too so be prepared to take snacks and fruit with you. We did have some vegetarian food which just about did the job and then we went back to our room to play cards. Later on we were both bombarded by the other guests staying in the rooms. We then had to separate for our first night in two months!! Lost we were!! ha ha!

It didn’t matter too much having damp rooms as we didn’t stay in them for very long as we were up at 5.30am the next morning for the sunrise. This doesn’t occur until around 6.30-7am but we got a good spot and again it was nice and quiet. The photos speak for themselves. Straight after we made our way down on the western steps. This route is tough and a lot steeper than the eastern steps, less people choose this route and as we left so early it was a long time before we passed anyone. This was great as the views once again across the mountains were breathtaking. One problem with all the steps is that it’s not very good for your knees and calves, too much concrete! We were passed on walking sticks from some kind walkers the previous day so we said we would find some people to pass ours onto too on our way down.

It took longer than we anticipated to reach the bottom, we both found people to pass our walking sticks onto and we had a little cheer at the bottom before waiting for the bus to take us back to the bus station.

Two buses later and we were back in Tunxi ready for some good food and rest before our hardsleepers booked for that evening.

(Leica M9, Summicron-M 50mm f2.0 & Olympus PEN, 17mm f2.8 & 100mm f2.8, processed in Lightroom 3)

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One Comment

  1. Posted 7 Jan ’11 at 3:57 am | Permalink

    Love the images. Keep them coming!

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