>>>The hard path to immortality

The hard path to immortality

“Everything that passes this point will become immortal”. That is the inscription that awaits you if you manage to reach the summit of Mount Hua. Is it really as difficult as it seems?
That will depend on the path you choose to reach its summits. The most complicated route, the South Peak, is the highest and most inaccessible of all…and that’s the one you have to climb if you like thrills. Narrow (very narrow) paths clinging to a cliff face and incredibly steep steps carved into the rock are just some of the hurdles that you’ll have to overcome in order to achieve the gift of immortality that the inscription promises. Are you ready to take the risk?

And who cleans this place?

Hua Shan is one of China’s most important tourist attractions and over one million people visit it. Therefore, 46 people are required to keep the mountain clean. The workers, hanging from ropes, collect 180 tons of rubbish thrown away by tourists every year.

Mount Hua or Hua Shan is located in the province of Shaanxi, China, around 120 kilometres to the east of Xi’an. It is one of the five sacred mountains of Taosim, which according to Chinese mythology were created from the body of Pangu, the first living being and creator of the universe. Mount Hua also has five peaks, which from the summit appear to form a lotus flower, a sacred symbol in Oriental culture. The highest one at 2,154 metres is the South Peak, although the East Peak at 2,096 metres and the West Peak at 2,082 metres are not far behind. The latter is known as the Dawn Peak because of the stunning views that await you as the sun rises. The ascent to the North Peak and the Central Peak (or Jade Maiden Peak) is simpler, although still a challenge.
Begin your journey to immortality in the early hours of the morning. The lower part of the mountain has a moderate slope, meaning that your first few steps are easy, but don’t be fooled by this simple start. Little by little, these steps become incredibly narrow rock steps. In order to ascend you need to use your legs and hands, being helped by the chains that are attached to the rock. The most extreme part of the route is a real challenge even for the most experienced climbers. Compose yourself, because the Changong Zhanda footbridge, which is four metres long and 30 centimetres wide, has complicated curves. Some wooden boards encrusted into the rock are all that will separate you from the outright void below. Its name could not be more fitting: it means “path of boards in the vast sky”. You’ll need to rent a safety harness for this part of the route.
If this doesn’t discourage you, then neither will the “Black Dragon”. This is a walkway sculpted on the edge of a black rock and that is also just a few centimetres wide. If, by now, you have got used to walking along narrow paths, you’ll need to learn to do so vertically in order to ascend the Gorge of the Hundred Steps, which rises up a gorge of 90 degrees.
There are various point where you can stop and rest, such as the gardens of the several temples and sanctuaries that are found along the way. There are also options for easier routes and even a cable car for those who prefer to pass on immortality and enjoy the views without risking their lives.

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