Huang Shan, China, 2011

While trekking/exploring China in July of 2011, I put Huang Shan on my itinerary. Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain) is the middle mountain of a granitic massif situated about 340 km southwest of Shanghai and has a maximum altitude of about 1864 m above sea level. Huang Shan lies in a humid subtropical area with warm summers. The Huang Shan region is about 154 square kilometers in area and was included in the World Natural and Cultural Heritage List by UNESCO in 1990.

The Huang Shan area map

Pushing up through the mist to the south of the Yangtze river are 72 craggy peaks, known collectively as Huang Shan, (Yellow Mountain).

The start of the morning-climb towards the Huang Shan’s highest ridge.

The vegetation of the area varies with elevation. The Mesic forest cover the landscape below 1,100 meters. Deciduous forest stretches from 1,100 meters up to the tree-line at 1,800 meters, (pictured above). Above that point, the vegetation consists of alpine grasslands. The “Huangshan Pine (Pinus hwangshanensis) is named after Huangshan and is considered an example of vigor because the trees thrive by growing straight out of the rocks. Many of the pine trees in the area are more than a hundred years old and have been given their own names (such as the “Ting Ke Pine”, or , the “Welcoming Guests Pine which is thought to be more than 1500 years old). The pines vary greatly in shape and size, with the most crooked of the trees being considered the most attractive (pictured below).

The “Welcoming Guests Pine” on Huang Shan

Huangshan is famous for its imposing, precipitous and fantastic view. It is characterized by its “3 Wonders of Nature”—odd-shaped pines, spectacular rocks and an ocean of clouds.

On a viewing platform, within the famous Huang Shan Clouds

About 140Ma ago (Late Jurassic), the hot magma intruded upward along the weak zone of the crust in Huangshan.

Looking from another platform at the series of peaks that my trekking group had to negotiate to the highest point.

Around 65Ma ago, the intrusive bodies in Huangshan area were uplifted intensively. With the intermittent uplifting of the crust, the underground intrusive bodies and their overlying rock suffered weathering and erosion, and were effected by various crust stresses from different directions, resulting in the formation of joints of different directions.

Some strange erosional shapes created within the granite of Huang Shan

Pictured above, since the beginning of Quaternary (1.75Ma ago), the intermittent uplift have formed 3 levels of erosion surfaces and finally formed Huangshan Mountain of today. These intrusive bodies are different in mineral composition, degree of crystallization, particle size of minerals, capability of resistance to weathering, nature of joints and density, thus forming the beautiful and superb landscape of Huangshan Mountain.

Getting closer to our destination within the Huang Shan, (note the “Flower on the Brush Tip on the right”)

The overlying rocks have been eroded and washed away, and the exposed granite has been weathered into ragged cliffs and untidy pinnacles. Pictured above, a Flower on the Brush Tip is one of the most impressive site in Mt.Huangshan. On the sea of pines, a rock stands out round below and sharp above with a pine tree on the tip, a natural brush pen.

Getting very close to our destination within the Huang Shan Trails

Huangshan is known for its stone steps, carved into the side of the mountain, of which there may be more than 60,000 throughout the area.

My trekking buddies; Mike Stevens, Robert Stevens and I are climbing the infamous stairway to the top of Huang Shan

The date at which work on the steps began is unknown, but they have been said to be more than 1,500 years old.

A friend and interpreter, Cui Lee and I are climbing the last steps toward Tiandu Feng.

Pictured above, paths snake up among the peaks—-the route to Tiandu Feng, (meaning “Heavenly Capital Peak”), involved a trek up 1,300 steps and a tricky crossing of a ridge just (one meter) wide, with just a chain to hang on to.

Cui Lee and I, make it to the top of Tiandu Feng together. All we see is cloud 360 degrees around. Some view!

The Huangshan range has many peaks, some more than 1,000 meters high. The three tallest and best-known peaks are Lotus Peak (Lianhua Feng, 1,864 m), Bright Peak (Guangming Ding, 1,860 m) and Celestial Peak (Tiandu Feng, literally Capital of Heaven Peak, 1,829 m) {pictured below}.

At the top of the Huang Shan range.

Many people come each year to Huang Shan, for it is the ambition of China’s huge population of 1 billion people, to visit at least once during their lives.

Note the cliff hugging trail against the granite face in the clouds.

Over 240 cm of rain falls each year, and the mountains are usually swathed in clouds and fog. The temperature on Huang Shan, barely rises above 10 degree Celsius ( 50 degrees Fahrenheit) at best.

Note the cliff hugging trail against the granite face in the clouds. The trail, down the mountain.

Huang Shan, (the Yellow Mountains) are not so called because the mountains are yellow, but because the area was renamed after the legendary Yellow Emperor (Huang Di) in 747 AD. After that Huang Shan began its ascent to fame. Many Buddhist temples have been built there and, more recently, it has become a major trekking destination, because of its scenic qualities.

“The Sleeping Buddha”; seen through the fog

It is said that the Yellow Mountains is the place where the “Yellow Emporer”, the mythical ancestor of the Chinese, lived, refined precious medicines and became a supernatural being.

Turtle Rock on the Huang Shan trail.

Huangshan became a magnet for hermits, poets and landscape artists, fascinated by its dramatic mountainous landscape consisting of numerous granitic peaks, many over 1,000 m high, emerging through a perpetual  sea of clouds.

Weather forecast RADAR station on the crest of Huang Shan

Huang Shan has almost all the unique features that a mountain could have. The steep cliffs, dense pine trees, stones of odd shapes, amazing cloud sea, high peaks, deep valleys and hot springs describes the secret workings of nature. It is considered by many the most beautiful location in China.

“Lotus Peak?? My visit to Huang Shan, China; July of 2011
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