On One Of China’s Five Great Mountains, you’ll find one of the world’s most dangerous hikes. Mount Huashan and its five peaks have a long history of religious significance. Considered holy since the second century BCE, the slopes and peaks of this entire mountain are dotted with vistas and Taoist temples. It has been a popular retreat for the hardiest of hermits and strong-willed and steel-nerved visitors.
There are four ways to summit Mount Huashan and gain access to its five peaks — two by foot, and two by cable car. Three converge just below the North Peak summit, the lowest of the five peaks at 5,295 ft, and one deposits you at the West Peak.
The first and most traditional route, Huashan Gorge, originates from the West Gate. Established in the third or fourth century, it’s the most common hiking path and will take 4-5 hours to reach the North Peak. Your second option is to take Huangpu Gorge (also known as the Soldier’s Path) from the East Gate. It’s more difficult, but faster (it’ll only take about 2 hours), and it follows the North Cable Car. The third option to the North Peak is the North Cable Car which is fee-based, and when the season is high can have a line 2+ hours long. Lastly, you can take the West Cable Car to the West Peak.
From the North Peak, there is just one route to the other summits; this is where some of the harrowing pictures are taken. You’ll climb steep stairs that cross famous features like the “Heavenly Steps,” “Sun and Moon Cliff,” and “Black Dragon Mountain”. Eventually, after 1-2 hours, you’ll reach Gold Lock Pass — where gold locks hang on a fence as symbols of safety and health.
Just past Gold Lock Pass, the route splits again and you can choose which peak to visit — East, South, Center or West. By this time, you’ve climbed your little legs out so there’s not much more elevation to gain, but you’ll probably only have time to climb one peak. Another popular route is to climb the North Peak and take the West peak cable car down.