Muschamp Rd

Yellow Mountain Kicked Ass

February 14th, 2006
Angkor Musk At Huang Shan

So sayeth the SMS I sent to Danna. I guess it was worth the 40 hours I spent sick on a train to climb. I hiked snow and ice covered stone steps for hours to take these photos. It was definitely dangerous.

Ting‘s sister slipped on a flat portion and skid right off the raised stone walkway and tumbled down about three feet into the snow. Luckily she was alright and we continued on. She slipped right near one of the hotels, in other parts any slip would have resulted in plummeting to your death.

A view over the edge

Portions of the mountain were closed or deemed too icy for us to attempt. I had better shoes on than the Chinese but whatever advantage I had was offset by my inferior knees.

We took the gondola up rather than climb 10 km of steep mountain path. Very few people opt to climb up from the bottom. Perhaps only a few day labourers but even labourers can take the gondola. There were some on it when we went up.

Laborers climbings steps near the spot where Ting's sister fell

Ting and her father had both gotten sick the day before so I ended up climbing the mountain with her youngest sister and a friend. I had only met them the day before. A friend of her father’s drove us to the mountain. He then sat and waited while we climbed. He did get to have dinner with us, but it was largely a thankless job. I thanked him at least twice and tried to buy dinner but was denied.

I took a lot of photos. I used up all three of my batteries, twice! My batteries all seem to be a bit confused. The charger says they are charged but the camera almost immediately says they are running out of power. I’ve learned to ignore the camera and use them till it shuts off. However even then the batteries still have some life in them, they just need to rest. As long as I don’t zoom I can use my dead and dying batteries quite a lot.

Perhaps the best view on Yellow Mountain

Most of these photos were taken on a memory card I bought in the jungles of Cambodia. It was of the Transcend brand which I’d never heard of. This cheap memory card I bought in a third world country is still working fine years later whereas the SanDisk memory card I bought in Shanghai crapped out on me taking all my Nanjing photos with it. I was not amused.

I took several AngkorMusk style photos risking my life clinging to ice covered wind swept rocks so people I don’t even know sitting in some air conditioned cubicle can read this drivel and look at the pictures.

The first and best of the most dangerous AngkorMusk style photo

The best view of the day was from “cloud dispelling peak” but the most satisfying and scariest place we visited was “flying rock“. This was made even more scary by an overweight Chinese lady who kept screaming at her friend who was trying to take her picture. Who knows how close to death we actually came?

Next time I see the CEO of Starbucks I’ll tell him, the outlet in the Forbidden City is all well in fine, but where they really need a Starbucks is on top of Yellow Mountain. There are no roads. Everything was built and is brought in my hand. Chinese men carry loads of laundry, luggage, vegetables, and other supplies up and down the mountain every day. There are several hotels and businesses on the top as well as scientific buildings, a monastery and a nunnery.

One of the many icy and dangerous sections

After we had already hiked the most difficult portion we attempted and were on our way down, the Chinese bought ice picks which slip over your shoes. They do help, but I worried they would give people a false sense of confidence. It started to snow as we reached the summit and it also got windier the higher we climbed.

Putting on my first pair of ice picks I did something to my shoulder/back. I had the most excruciating physical pain I’ve felt in a long time. Way worse than anything I felt in Xi’an when I chipped my knee cap and busted up my face. The pain was all up and down my arm, shoulder, and back. I couldn’t do anything except sit and grimace for a minute or more. I tried to tell the Chinese but all I could think to say was “Just a minute”. I knew the Chinese word for pain, 痛 but was unable to think of it at the top of Yellow Mountain – 黄山 while biting down and shaking.

The better kind of ice picks for sale

I really am in-debt to Ting and her family and friends. I got them some nice gifts but they paid for everything while I was in An Hui. I hope to be able to repay their kindness. In my last few days in China I’ve made sure to thank people who were kind to me, be they postal employees or random Tsinghua students that I met on campus. I’m buying my share of dinners and coffees and saying my goodbyes.

Update December 2015

Once again I found myself in China, I may even climb Huangshan again, I was invited at least twice already, a train now runs very close to the mountain making it easier to reach from Shanghai where I am living. I’m on ‘staycation’ it seems so I’ve spent entirely too much time editing old blog posts and trying to make them better. My best photos including my best photos of China end up on Flickr, so I’ve been going through ten years of blog postings improving them including adding bigger better versions of photos to my old blog postings made while living, studying, and traveling in China.

Eventually I collected my ten best posts about China into a list, of course I included this one.

Famous Tree on Yellow MountainFlying Rock on Yellow MountainHuang Shan peak


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