Mountaineering for Dummies

Ok… fine.. it’s closer to “mountain trekking”, but we’ve just conquered one of the sacred mountains of China: E-mei Mountain (峨眉山).

In fact, we conquered it twice over a space of two days.

It was not easy, mind you. We had to undertake a series of gruelling bus and cable car rides to complete most of this arduous feat.

To be honest, initially, we had every intention of climbing up the mountain on foot. We’ve heard reviews from other travelers that Emei is a relatively easy mountain to climb, and there are numerous monasteries for us to stay in while we are on the mountain. Sure, it’s a two day continuous uphill walk, but almost all of the paths were well paved, and the walkways are plastered with directional signages.

It would take a complete moron to get lost on Mt Emei.

Let’s just say WE didn’t want to take the chance…

Despite our best efforts and the numerous (rather expensive) cable cars/buses that we took, there were still rather long portions of the Emei Shan that we had to transit on foot.

The other travellers were right, though. Even for a sluggard like me, our daily hikes were not that difficult. The fog covered trails of Emei Shan creates a rather ethereal surrounding which makes for very pleasant walks.

Walks that takes us along twinkling streams in the forest

and past Chinese pavilions that would not have been out of place on a Kungfu movie set

Did I mention the fog? It gives the whole place a rather... magical feel

On top of all that, Emei Shan, being a sacred mountain, means that we were constantly surrounded by the holy sight of peddlers hawking their wares. They were selling anything from instant noodles to tea leaves to 1000 year old Ginseng to (if you choose to believe them) THE real Heavenly Sword (倚天剑). Nope, it is not a replica made of bamboo. It is the real thing, it’s just… well disguised, and because we are such good friends, they HAVE to let me know that the vendor next door is the one selling the fake Heavenly Swords.

My point is that trekking through Emei Shan strikes a fine balance (for us). There are parts of the mountain that are positively SWARMED with tourists, but we just need to wander off the trail for a little bit and we could have exclusive access to whole portions of nature. The roads were well paved, and it is kind of comforting (to me) to know that in the unlikely event that we should get lost on the trail, we just need to shout out, and a T shirt seller will likely come to our rescue.

So why did we not do Emei Shan the “right” way?

As they say… a picture speaks a thousand words…

Stairs... so, we meet again...

Oh yeah….

There were the monkeys and their handlers too…

Spot the Gorillas Monkeys in the Mist

But that’s a story for another day…