China: Mount Huashan Five Peaks

Once at the top of a Mount Huashan via a cable car, there are five peaks to climb – West, East, South, Central, and an outlying North. Hiking trails (or more like stone steps and staircases cut into the mountain connect all five peaks and every single one of the is a steep and crowded climb. The West Peak is the closest to the cable car and is at 2038 m/6686 ft with a temple on top and the sheerest of drops. South Peak is the highest at 2155 m/ 7070 ft and offers the most spectacular panorama of the spiky granite mountains. The road to the East Peak goes by the plant walk – an insane dead end trail where planks are attached to the vertical wall and you walk above the 2000 feet abyss (with a harness). This is known as the “world’s most dangerous trail”. Unfortunately, due to high winds the plank walk was closed. But the East Peak itself was a good climb, being the second highest at 2100 m /6900 ft. As you continue north, you go through bagging the Central Peak with the elevation of 2042 m/6699 ft, before beginning a long descend down the ridge of the mountain toward the North Peak which is actually over 300 m/ 1000ft below the main plateau. All along, there is an absolutely stunning universe of white granite and mountain ridges that almost defy imagination with their steepness and drops, and many ancient Buddhist temples scattered all around the peaks. So I conquered all five peaks, probably annihilating every muscle in my legs, before taking the cable car down from the North Peak. What an adventure!