A cup of tea on the world's most dangerous trail


The Hua Shan is one of my highlights from 3 months China trip and a beautiful mountain experience. If you are in the ancient capital Xi'an, forget the less authentic terracotta warriors and climb the holy mountain.

"Incredible", "life-threatening", "The pure madness". Such phrases advertise clickbaiting websites for the attention of their readers. Is everything always and everywhere a superlative?

We travel bloggers are known to write attention-seeking. But most of us are a long way from clickbaiting platforms:

"Here you see the scariest trail in the world. But you would NEVER guess where it leads you. Incredible."

"Here some risk their lives for a cup of tea"

"Risk of death! Probably the most dangerous hiking trail in the world "
( experience )

"Extremely dangerous way to teahouse at the top of Huashan"

"Official statistics on deaths do not exist, which may also be related to the severe restrictions on freedom of the press, but it is spoken by 100 people a year who will give their lives there."

Sounds a bit untrustworthy, right? That's because almost all of it is invented and lying.

The "deadly oncoming traffic" takes a selfie with me

The story sounds like this:

  1. You climb for hours extremely steep stairs.
  2. You take a cable car much further up the mountain.
  3. You finally climb on rickety wooden boards around the summit.
  4. Oncoming traffic is almost certain death, because there is no room to dodge.
  5. You reach a teahouse where you can drink a cup of tea as a reward.
  6. Hundreds of hikers fall off, just for this cup of tea.

Good story, right? Feel free to read one of the above linked "spooky" versions before I continue with my experience at Hua Shan.

The "tea house" is at the beginning of the via ferrata, not at the end

I hiked myself to the South Summit of Hua Shan 5 years ago and as Via Ferrata Junkie I also did the via ferrata:

2 hours waiting for the train or in 3 hours self-running?

At the entrance a long queue awaits you and you can pay 180 yuan (25 Euro) entrance fee. If you take the cable car, you pay three times and the snake is three times as long.

A blazing load carrier at Hua Shan

On foot you need for the 1100 vertical meters to the north summit around 3-4 hours. A trained mountaineer runs this effortlessly in 2 hours. Even brighter are the porters, the heroes of this mountain.

Red Bull break on the mountain

The Chinese on the mountain need more 5+ hours. The rise to one of the five great sacred mountains of China, you make once in a lifetime, whether you are fit and in need helps the Chinese Red Bull. This is available at the many pause stations at lunar prices.

So you also get up.

The path is completely concreted or carved in the rock, from bottom to top. Every step, every step is artificial. You climb up a long staircase. That's what you do in China , even on other holy mountains. This diminishes the experience of nature, but you can also go in the dark to see the sunrise.

Mounted mountain

Further up it gets steep and then extremely steep. Although it is not particularly exposed or dangerous, but very exhausting to walk directly uphill. Some hikers with little mountain experience cling to the railings.

View back to the north summit

It is calmer. The higher you come, the fewer people you meet. Just when you have gotten used to the quiet, there is a fair mood again. At the northern summit you see the mountain station of the cable car and the crowds are incredibly large.

Waiting at the steep stairs

From the north summit uphill you have to wait a lot first. Many of the ropeway riders have bad footwear and are unfit. At bottlenecks with steep stairs you stand sometimes 10 minutes and there is no alternative.

Selfies with rise in the background

The game of the morning repeats itself: towards Goldschloss pass the crowd slowly thins out. Many people climb to a photogenic position, take selfies and then turn around.

Why is the Goldschloss-Pass called Goldschloss-Pass? ;)

The Goldschloss Pass takes about an hour. Here seems to be the goal for many. On the way to the south summit you have the mountain almost for you alone. The majority of the increase is now done.

Ladder at the beginning of the via ferrata

Below the southern summit you meet more people again. Here is the via ferrata, one of only a few in Asia . He seems to be very popular, for via ferrata and onlookers. A large group is just leaving the path.

Via ferrata set rental at the southern summit

For 30 yuan (4 euros) you can borrow a via ferrata set. The brands via ferrata sets make a new impression, but come only with a chest strap and without brake. That would not be suitable for a real Ferrata. The ferrata here is almost horizontal, so the drop heights are low enough.

The plank path minder sure reads the Chinese "praline"

After a short ladder descent you come to a plank path with wooden planks. The wood makes a very solid impression. There is a solid double safety rope for easy dodge and more than enough space. A watcher is bored halfway.

Daoist cave shrine at the end of the Ferrata

The plank path is over in just 5 minutes. At the end there is no tea house, but a small cave. Inside is a shrine with a Daoist deity, perhaps one of the 9 Imperial gods or one of the 8 immortals. There is no tea, just peace and the smell of incense sticks.

West summit from afar

That's it. You go back the same way and stand after less than 30 minutes at the entrance again. Actually, you had planned much more time and can now look quickly to the West Summit. It is not far from the southern summit and looks quite cool from afar

Wish you What Pool near West Summit

It is urgent to return to the western summit. The last bus back to Xi'an leaves in 2 hours. It's best to take the cable car, otherwise you'll miss the bus and sit here overnight.

Crowd on the way back

The closer you get to the cable car, the tougher the crowds become. In front of the mountain station is terminus. An endless line of people stands here and everyone wants to go back. You just want to miss the bus that leaves in an hour.

Who is running like that?

3 hours concrete stairs uphill you can get downhill in 1 hour, right? There is only one way to find out. You start to run, always downhill. When you arrive at the bottom with overused thighs, the engine is already running off the bus - done.

The lady went the via ferrata with these shoes

In Via Ferrata Speak, the story gets even shorter: Short, difficult ladder K1, then exposed wall crossing on continuous wooden planks K1. Good for beginners. With 10 minutes very short for the long ascent and descent. Classic family via ferrata.

Everything easy on the plank path

The scariest thing about Hua Shan is not the via ferrata, but the coverage! In the Alps there is a completely different via ferrata caliber. Meanwhile, a second cable car to the higher west summit was built, which relieves the north summit and the bottlenecks to Goldschloss Pass.

Here is Mandarin: "top mountain experience ahead";)

But now I would also like to resort to superlatives: the Hua Shan is one of my highlights from 3 months China trip and a beautiful mountain experience. If you are in the ancient capital Xi'an, forget the less authentic terracotta warriors and climb the holy mountain.

Done but happy: the author at Hua Shan

Tip: As a day trip from Xi'an, I would not do the Hua Shan anymore - way too stressful. The bus needs already 2 hours. There are also guesthouses on the mountain and in the valley to stay overnight. So you have enough time for everything and you do not feel your thighs 3 days later ...

Nightly water show at the pagoda in Xi'an

There are many more sacred mountains in China . Hua Shan is one of the 5 grand mountains, besides, there are 4 sacred mountains of Daoism and 4 sacred mountains of Buddhism. Every single one is certainly a great experience.

Hanging monastery at Heng Shan, a holy mountain at beijing

Sinographers have an honest account of the sacred Tai Shan in Beijing .

It's not easy to be honest, and I have to put my own nose to it. If you find a superlative too much in the flocblog, do not hesitate. Honesty is the best…

Which story did you like better? Clickbaiting or realistic?

Fancy getting on via ferratas? You do not have to go to China. Most via ferrata are in Europe .

  1. I went there 2 days ago and I agree with the article.
    It's a nice day trip or a nice hike but that's about it.
    Especially the Plank Walk was a bit disappointing, especially since you should plan about 1.5 hours waiting time.
    If you can hide the countless Chinese tourists for a moment, you will also realize the beauty of this mountainous area.
    I prefer the Via Terrata at Mt. Torq in Malaysia;)

  2. Thank you for this authentic report, with all the clickbaiting and the "10 reasons why you should definitely do XY" is sometime just overstimulation announced. Nothing rotten rotz looks to me very spectacular and I spontaneously pants full ... I will not do that in any case! : p
    Many greetings

  3. Servus Florian,

    Amazing article! Directly makes you want more .. I live for such adventures and can only inspire for it. Pure thrill and definitely worth the trip.

    Thank you for the informative contribution.

    Pfiat di,


  4. The Taishan is like the Hanging Monastery near Beijing and the Terracotta Army is not very authentic: statements that I can not sign. The Taishan is about 500km away from Beijing. But, well, with the distances in China one can call that "close". But why the terracotta army should not be authentic, does not open to me. In any case, the Huashan are rather overcrowded in the slightly scary path.
    I am very amused about this report. Especially because I already know all these places.
    I wish you nice trips!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. markiert. Required fields are marked with * .