Angel’s Landing, Half Dome, Huashan – too dangerous?

There is talk of closing Angel’s Landing in Zion and Half Dome in Yosemite.

The controversy with the first two (American hikes) is rekindled — not surprisingly — each time a tourist falls to their death. Access is simply too easy for the inexperienced and under-prepared.

But if you (like us) feel you are capable of these moderate difficulty scrambles, do not fear if access in the USA is eventually restricted.

You can always head to Xian, China and Huashan.

… between the West and North Peak, is a path called ‘Changkongzhandao‘ (The cliff side plank path).

cimg1635.jpgThis path is pretty much the whole reason for me coming to Mt. Huashan. Originally seeing photos of this awesome sight in an email when i was working, i decided i had to come and take a look for myself.

The path leads to a small lookout where it is about 70 metres in length. Once you reach the end, you just come back and continue on your way. It is a cliff face. 90 degrees. To get across, they have whacked large nails into the side of the cliff and placed planks of wood over the top for you to cross. The path is about 40cm wide!

There is also a chain nailed to the rock for you to hold onto as you make your way across. For $5AUS you can choose to hire a safety harness (you would be absolutely stupid, i mean insane not to have one). Half of the path are planks of wood and the other half are foot holes carved into the rock. As the people i was with were too scared to go, i went alone taking the photos myself trying not to drop the camera with my hands shaking as if i had just drunk 20 cups of coffee.

I took my time and on the way back another brave bloke was coming towards me to do the same walk. I asked him to take a photo of me and he explained to me that the ultimate photo to take on this path is a pose where you lean back facing the cliff wall (because of your harness), your body 45 degrees, relying 100% on your harness with both arms waving in the air! The ground by the way is 1km down.

The best i could do was lean 45 degrees over the edge but my hands were stuck firmly to the strap connecting my body to the wall. I couldn’t let go, my brain was telling me “Go on, do it”, but my hands wouldn’t budge. Now i see myself as an adventurous person willing to try anything, but this was the first time in my short years where my brain and body disagreed with one another and it felt really strange.

I hit my limit where i had no idea what my limit was up until now. And I’m actually quite glad knowing it’s hanging off a cliff relying on a piece of metal and strap, 1km up on a plank of wood, now that can’t happen too often, can it? There is a saying ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’. That was actually shuffling across those wooden planks.

The adrenalin rush i got from that and hiking Mt. Huashan lasted all the way back down to the cable car where it was 7:00pm and the perfect time to leave for a 3 hour bus ride back to Xi’an.

cliff-plank.jpg

Andre’s World Trip: Mt. Huashan

Angel’s Landing – our information page

One Reply to “Angel’s Landing, Half Dome, Huashan – too dangerous?”

  1. I think we’re going there in September (my Chinese-speaking in-laws are handling the details, but I think that’s one of our stops). Anyway, thanks for the tip – have to look more into this.

    I don’t know as it’s accurate to say that there’s talk of closing Half Dome. There have been three deaths in 50 years. They just happened to have all occurred in the last few months, but at worst I see some sort of quota system to cut down on the carivnal atmosphere a bit.

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