Mount Hua

Mount Hua

Located about an hour from Xi'an, one of China's most popular cities for tourists, Mount Hua or Huashan is considered to be one of the world's most dangerous places to hike.

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Mount Hua is a mountain located near the city of Huayin in Shaanxi Province, about 120 kilometers (75 mi) east of Xi'an. It is the western mountain of the Five Great Mountains of China and has a long history of religious significance. Originally classified as having three peaks, in modern times the mountain is classified as five main peaks, the highest of which is the South Peak at 2,154.9 meters (7,070 ft).

The route up the mountain has been named as one of the most dangerous hikes in the world. As tourism has boomed and the mountain's accessibility vastly improved with the installation of the cable car in the 1990s, visitor numbers have surged. The many exposed, narrow pathways with precipitous drops gave the mountain a deserved reputation for danger, although safety measures, such as cutting deeper pathways, building up stone steps and wider paths, and adding railings, have to some extent mitigated the danger. The local government has opened new tracks and created one-way routes on some of the more dangerous parts so that, barring crowds and icy conditions, the mountain can be scaled without extreme risk now.

Some of the most precipitous tracks have been closed off. The former trail leading along a cliff face from the North Peak to the South Peak was known as being extremely dangerous; there is now a new and safer stone-built path to the South Peak temple and on to the Peak itself.

Many Chinese still climb at nighttime, to reach the East Peak by dawn though the mountain now has many hotels. This practice is a holdover from when it was considered safer to simply be unable to see the extreme danger of the tracks during the ascent, as well as to avoid meeting descending visitors at points where pathways have scarcely enough room for one visitor to pass through safely.

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