There are four ‘symbols’ of China: the Yangtze River, The Great Wall, The Forbidden City and Yellow Mountain.

It was originally called Black mountain because of the colour of the rocks, but the name was changed to Yellow Mountain Huang Shan (Huang=yellow, Shan=mountain) in honour of the Emperor.

This is the Yangtze river. When I was a kid I read a book called "Ping", set on the Yangtze river! And now, about 44 years later I got to see it!

If you’ve ever seen those painted scrolls with the scenes of mountains and twisted pines–that’s Yellow Mountain!


That’s me in the cable car on the way to the top of Yellow Mountain. It took fifteen minutes to ride up! It’s at an elevation of about 1300 metres which is about 5000 feet, but somehow it seemed higher. The temperature was quite a bit cooler at the top!

The view from the cable car. It was misty on the way up.

The view from the Cloud Dispelling Pavillion


This picture really doesn’t do the view justice. The sun was starting to set. And the sunlit haziness revealing veiled mountains in the distance was just stunning! They called this canyon the Grand Canyon.

Apparently the weather on top of Yellow Mountain is very unpredictable! We were lucky that the weather held.

But the thing is that the top of Yellow Mountain is stunning in all kinds of weather.

But it is DANGEROUS!

The guides continuously cautioned us that every year people die on Yellow Mountain!

Julian stayed down at the bottom of the mountain because the best hotel on top is crappy.

It is.

Reminds me of the hotels you get in the arctic that push one star. But because everything has to be shipped in, or in this case , hauled up the mountain, it’s what you can expect.

Just walking from the cable car station to the hotel was a serious trek, down uneven stairs that made my knees hurt.

One thing this trip has really taught me is that I’m missing out. I need to get my weight under control.

I bought a walking stick made out of bamboo for five yuan at the bottom of the mountain. Boy did it come in handy! There are very few handrails and the stairs are TREACHEROUS! No wonder they tell you not to walk and look at the view at the same time! Even when there are handrails it’s NOT a good idea to trust them, they tend to be rickety!

Many times we had to make way for the porters carrying 200 lb loads in bundles hanging frm bamboo yokes that perched on their shoulders.

They get 1 yuan per pound that they carry!

And they spend their days trekking up and down across those treacherous stone steps!

We were warned a number of times to ALWAYS let them pass and to NEVER take photos of them. Making them stop to take a photo would have been cruel! Imagine the strength it would take to get those heavy loads moving and having to stop every few minutes for some yahoo to take a picture of you like you’re some oddity/beast of burden!

Just getting to the Cloud Dispelling Pavilion to take this picture had me huffing and puffing. Not only because of the exertion but because of the thin air. When I was in Banff, which is at a similar altitude, it was the same thing. The guide warned us that the path got steeper from there so I just sat at the Cloud Dispelling Pavillion to soak up the view.

My husband went up further and took this picture from a distance. You can barely see me standing and waving. (I’m that dark spot on the far right but kind of in the middle of the picture frame.)

Me waving from across the chasm.

After we got back we were told there was a 70% chance of seeing the sunrise the next morning!

Part of me knew I wouldn’t be able to manage, not with my weight and the way I was huffing and puffing just to get to the Cloud Dispelling Pavillion, but I got up anyway at 5 am to pray Fajr and when hubby asked if I was coming I decided i was.

But just getting to the steps of the path that led up to Purple Peak, I knew it was not a good idea. The sign said it was 1 km to the Purple Peak. That’s a thousand metres I told myself. But a thousand metres of steps going up!

I asked the guide, “Is this too hard for me?”

He looked dubious. “Some of the spots are quite steep.”

This from the guy who described the trek from the cable car station as a ‘ten’ minute walk when Julian had said it was 40 minutes! (It was forty minutes.)

So I decided not to go. My husband took this picture.


Actually he took about thirty pictures as the sun was rising, this is one of the only ones that doesn’t show all the iphones and ipads also clicking the picture!

And he said that it was a good thing I didn’t go! It was incredibly steep! One of the other guys in the group called it a ‘stairway to heaven’ it was so steep!

And apparently it was REALLY crowded on top of Purple Peak.

There are only fifteen days a year that you can actually see the sun rise, and we just happened to be there on one of those days.

Julian said he’d gone to Yellow mountain for eleven years and had only ever seen it once.

There is something amazing about witnessing the sun rise from the top of a mountain!

I do wish I’d seen it.

Just another gorgeous view atop Yellow Mountain.

Yellow Mountain was the most strenuous part of the entire trip to China–and yet by the end of it, it was also the most remarkable part of the trip.

Getting off the mountain meant another bunch of stairs. Unavoidable! But slowly but surely we made our way to the other cable car station at the top, and came down, again in brilliant sunshine.

Julian said that one time he’d had some guests atop the mountain and it was raining. He’d told them NOT to go out but they wouldn’t listen. They were determined to go, so he made them sign a waiver. One of them was hit by lightning–and died.

It’s that dangerous!

Taking the other cable cars down Yellow Mountain.

Later some of our group met some American tourists, they were elderly and they told them that they were on the way to Yellow Mountain. The guy told them it would be pretty tough.

They looked shocked. “Don’t they have elevators?”

He just laughed.