Shan in Chinese means Mountain. Sometimes I will use: Mount Hua/Huang or Hua/Huangshan.
I’m sure I am not the only one who gets all excited about a big long hike then an hour in complains about being too hot, tired or hungry etc. But that feeling of accomplishment when you reach the top is priceless and you can’t remember why you were complaining for the last 3-6 hours. Yup that’s me all over!
Hiking is a long standing hobby of mine. I don’t hike all the time but I do like to include it in my travel experiences. Living and working in China has been the perfect place to continue that hobby. Of course there are many mountains to hike here in China but I have decided to compare two particular mountains based on their fairly similar names and reasonably similar level of difficulty.
Let me briefly introduce the two mountains I have chosen. I will intertwine my experiences as to not repeat myself. Huangshan or Mount Huang is located in Anhui Province. The highest point is 1,864 metres. Huashan or Mount Hua is located in Shaanxi Province. The highest point is 2,154 metres.
About four/five years ago myself and a group of friends took off to climb HuangShan. You could say this is when my passion for hiking really began.
For those of you that share my interest in hiking, Mount Huang is absolutely stunning from top to bottom making it a must see.
In our group our level of fitness was similar except for one who at one point ran up a very large stairway with little to no effort. For him this hike was a piece of cake. For the rest of us it was a reasonable hike. Not too easy, not too difficult.
The stairways for Mount Hua were equally steep, if not steeper and far more dangerous looking. I am not easily stunted by fear but I was tested this time. The group for this mountain was much smaller and we were physically not ready for the endurance test at all. We hiked this mountain around two years ago.
Along the way the scenery is breathtaking and having a good camera is a must to truly capture your moments. Unfortunately for me, I did this hike many years ago so my pictures are not perfect but still, you can feel what I felt…amazed!
Along the way up any mountain in China it is normal to see padlocks and/or red ribbons. These are left by previous hikers, either from couples who use the padlock to represent their love or red ribbons for religious reasons.
On both of these hikes I decided to hike up, stay at the top and hike down the following day. I did this for a couple of reasons: one being that I knew I would want to rest and take in the view once I reached the peak and second, I had every intention of waking up to watch the spectacular sunrise to start my day. On both occasions I was not disappointed.
Generally speaking both mountains are beautiful and definitely worth the hike. In terms of prices they are not so different. Hiking time up and down, again not a huge difference. Things to see on the way up such as bamboo forests, steep stairway challenges and places to pray, they are very similar.
The big differences for me would have to be the overall scenery which I would say Huangshan is in the lead due to the constant breathtaking views. In terms of a sense of achievement and adventure it has to be Huashan because of the realm of danger all the way up and the infamous plank crossing.
Guesthouse on Huashan
Approximately an hour from the highest point of Huashan we found a small guest-house. It was cheap considering the location, the owner and staff were extremely friendly, we were able to take a shower, eat a large bowl of home-made noodles and sink a few beers before getting some shut eye. As the three of us girls were getting ready to sleep the owner bursts through the door to offer his massage skills for free. I turned him down as I felt fine and just wanted to sleep but one of the other girls took him up on his offer. Needless to say she got a bit more than she bargained for. The man started off on her shoulders. From there he then moved towards her breasts but later he went from her legs and worked his way up to her crotch where he really seemed to focus his attention. Myself and our other friend happened to glance over as he approached the region and hysterical laughter took place. A sudden “oh my god, what are you doing?” then the massage was over. No happy ending for anyone.
Camping on Huangshan
After a long day of hiking and visiting each of the peaks our group was beyond exhausted. We had already planned to camp and you can rent the tent and sleeping bags at the top to save yourself the hassle of carrying extra weight. We each bought a packet of instant noodles and sat outside eating them while others played basketball or football. We had two to a tent which was fine but I had caught a cold so spent the whole night coughing whereas a friend of ours who literally snores like a walrus kept the others awake all night. Remember to pack some warm clothes as the temperatures drop quickly and it takes a few hours to warm back up in the morning.
I personally recommend hiking both mountains if you have the time and energy. Both are challenging and beautiful but for many Huashan wins due to the infamous and dangerous plank crossing. Cross at your own risk!