Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Coming down the mountain

I'm pleased to note that I have visited one of the five most dangerous roads in the world, at least as defined here. Most of them look like inspirations for The Wages of Fear. The last one on the list is Huashan (Mt. Hua) and man is it scary. I did not take some of the more daring bits, but I did manage a few hair raising hikes.

Unlike hikes in the US where the climb is solitary, this one is a crowd event. The normal plan is this. Arrive late at night and sleep until about 3Am. Get up and start walking up the hill, with a few hundred other people all around you. Sit at the top and enjoy the sunrise. If you are so bold you can try some of the really frightening trails, most of which involve climbing ladders with a thousand foot drop behind you. And no means of arresting your fall. The natural beauty is reduced by the annoying Chinese habit of tossing garbage down the side of the mountain.

On the way back down, during the day, you notice just how precarious the trip up was. On one long section, which you can see on the site above, you walk along a ridge with giant drops on both sides. On the way up you don't care that people are pushing into you, but this seems all the more foolish when you see what a losing your foothold might bring.

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