My friend Craig and I climbed Hua Shan and went on the Plank Walk in May of 2010. I’ve previously posted pictures from the mountain to my flickr and facebook accounts, but didn’t blog about the experience. In light of an article making the rounds calling the plank walk the most dangerous hike in the world, I thought it might be good to offer my perspective on the subject.
First, if you are afraid of heights, stay off the walk. It is as simple as that. If you want to do some immersion therapy, do it somewhere else on the mountain. The path has two-way traffic, and having someone frozen in fear just isn’t conducive to the harmonious environment that we who live in China seek.
Most of the articles I’ve read that talk about how dangerous the plank walk is gloss over or omit that people use safety harnesses (with redundant connections to dual steel safety lines) when walking on it. The harnesses are available for a small fee (which I think was refundable on return).
I’ve seen old pictures of the walk where there weren’t any safety harnesses or cables, but I’m fairly sure these have been in place since at least 2008 (for the influx of tourists coming to see the Olympic Games).
Craig on the ladder leading down to the plank walk. Again, notice the dual chains, as well as the steel safety cables on either side of the chains.
And, of course, the beautiful landscape below Craig.
Skyward view from the ladder. The weather was wonderful that day.
Locks left on a link of chain (for good luck).
- sì = to think, reflect; meaning
- guò = to pass by, past;
- yái = cliff, bank, ledge, precipice.
He further states, “[p]ut them all together, and you should get the general idea”.
One last look down before heading up the ladder and off the cliffside.
And, finally, on what was probably the most dangerous part of the trip, doing a bit of free climbing.