Vertigo Atop Mount Hua

I consider myself to be a big hiking and outdoor enthusiast. I love being challenged, especially when it’s within nature’s playground. I often plan my travels around the amount of outdoor activities a destination has to offer. I love adventure, but even I have moments when I second guess some of my more adventurous decisions. A few years ago, I traveled to Xi’an, China where I hiked Mount Hua’s insane cliff path. I learned about the hike while reading an article in Travel and Leisure magazine; “World’s Scariest Hikes.” Their website had a video link of the hike and after watching it, I knew it was something I had to do one day. The hike became the inspiration for my trip to China in 2011!

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Mount Hua is known as “The Number One Precipitous Mountain under Heaven.” It’s one of the five sacred mountains in China and has a long history of religious significance. Various Taoist temples dot the mountain’s five peaks. It’s a place where many local tourists travel to as part of a spiritual pilgrimage. My friend and I boarded a bus near the Xi’an train station and two hours later arrived near the base of the mountain. Since we were limited on time, the cable car took us halfway up, but we were able to hike the rest of the way. The view from the top was stunning.

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The mountain’s cliff path was our ultimate destination. After hiking for about three hours through the clouds and in the rain, we finally arrived. It was an incredible sight to see. The path appeared even more intimidating in person, to the point where I was doubting my ability and talking myself out of attempting it. It looked scarier than I imagined; a straight descent along small metal bars that were built into the mountain.

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The fact that it was raining and everything was wet, thus slippery, made the situation seem even more precarious. For a very lengthy moment, the thought crossed my mind to back out of the whole thing. Meanwhile, my friend had strapped right in to his harness and started on his way. After about 15 minutes, I gave the cliff path one final look and thought to myself, “I came all the way to China for this moment; I can’t back out now”. I put my stuff down, strapped myself in, and made my way down to the path. I would have truly regretted it had I not. I was surprised how safe and at ease I felt once I started making my way down. It looked much scarier than it actually was.

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The experience was truly amazing. It was quite the rush, almost spiritual like. Every thought and worry I ever had seemed to disappear for a moment as I took in all the beautiful scenery around me. There’s just something indescribable about nature when you see it on such a massive scale. It made me feel so small, yet, on top of the world.

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It was easily one of the most impressive natural sights I have ever seen. The whole experience was breathtaking and one that I highly recommend trying while in Xi’an.

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