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Hiking is one exciting outdoor activity loved by many. But while the majority of hikes are suited to allow hikers to enjoy a comfortable and safe trek, some are so dangerous that one has to wonder who created them and why such dangerous things attract so many people. This is the case for a death trap on China’s Mount Huashan which is now considered the most dangerous hike in the world. The dangers of this hike make it seem more like the hardest level in a video game only this is actually real life and involves real people. Mount Huashan is indeed proof that not all hikes are equal and this is what it’s like to engage in this treacherous walk.

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About Mount Hushan

Also known as the Plank walk, the most dangerous hike in the world is located east of Xian, China at the top of Mount Huashan. The mountain located near Xi'an is considered one of the five great mountains in China and lots of temples have been built on different parts of the mountain due to its religious significance. While the religious part of the temple is an interesting thing to note on Mount Huashan, it is the perilous hike that makes this mountain a bustling tourist spot for adventure seekers. History has it that the hike was created many centuries ago by a Taoist priest for reasons best known to him.

While there are several peaks on Mount Huashan with different difficult hikes, none compares to the South peak. With a summit height of 2,154 m, this peak is the highest point on the mountain and is where the famous plank walk is located. The views from this prestigious part of the mountain are amazing but only the bravest adventurers get to behold this mesmerizing scenery. A waiver is required to be signed before the start of the adventure and every year, it is estimated that up to 100 hikers lose their lives trying to hike Mount Huashan. This, however, does not deter the increasing number of adventurers coming to this mountain from all parts of the world.

Related: These Are Considered The Most Dangerous Western U.S. Hikes

The Adventure Begins

The climb at Mount Huashan begins with thousands of steep steps. While this is the easiest part of the hike, it is still an excruciating climb to overcome. The first series of steps are easier to climb as they allow hikers to walk upright without the need to hold anything for support. Many of the mountain’s peaks will be reached as hikers proceed on these steps.

After some minutes into the climb, hikers will be in front of a vertical climb with chains fastened on both sides of the stairs that lead upward. It’s nothing much, but one will have to hold tight to the ropes to make the steep ascent to the upper part of the mountain. At a certain point on the mountain, one will be met with different paths leading to different temples and peaks as well as a sign leading to the most thrilling part of the hike at Mount Huashan - the Plank Walk In The Sky.

The Plank Walk In The Sky

The plank walk in the sky begins from a vertical descent on thin metal rods. To begin the journey down these metal rods, hikers will be required to rent a harness with hooks that must always be fastened to the safety cable at the side of the mountain. With every step down the thin metal rods, hikers are required to unhook the harness and hook it onto another part of the safety cable to allow them to proceed further downward. One important safety tip hikers should note when using these hooks is to never unhook both at the same time as nothing else is available to prevent a dangerous fall from the cliff.

The vertical descent down the metal rods leads to the hardest part of the hike - the plank walk in the sky. Before the actual plank walk; however, hikers must first carefully walk on cliffside steps while keeping their harnesses hooked to the safety cables at all times. The plank walk comes immediately after the cliffside walk and for many, this is the scariest part of the hike. Related: These Are The Most Dangerous Bike Trails In The World (Even For The Pros)

A Two-Way Traffic, Weather Challenges, And The Language Barrier

The vertical descent and the plank walk are no doubt the most difficult parts of the hike and the fact that it is two-way traffic on these parts makes it even more frightening. While hikers going in opposite directions might not be too dangerous on the vertical descent, it makes the plank walk more perilous.

With planks only 2.3 feet wide, the path is barely enough to accommodate one hiker, yet two hikers are sometimes forced to stand on the same spot while trying to get past each other. The plank walk leads to a dead end, so hikers should keep in mind that they will be required to walk back on the thin plank and climb the metal rods to complete the hike.

Weather Challenges

Mount Huashan can easily be a route to Hades during the winter and rainy season as a simple selfie can become the reason for a fatal fall. During winter, the temperature at the mountain is freezing and the trail is usually covered in ice and fog which can easily cause inconvenience for hikers. During the rainy season, the path gets dangerously wet and slippery, requiring hikers to be extremely careful while making their way up or down the mountain. The trail is also closed during times of extreme weather challenges such as thunderstorms and heavy rainfall. Visiting Mount Huashan in the most conducive weather is one of the steps to overcoming the dangerous hike.

The Language Barrier

The plank walk is in China and as expected, Chinese is the most prevalent language there. The impact of this language barrier on foreigners will be felt everywhere from restaurants to buses and even on the hike itself. Imagine asking the next hiker on the same plank walk a crucial question and getting a head shake and a smile as an answer. It’s terrifying and funny. The safety briefing is also given in Chinese so good luck trying to understand a word being said. A translator and a few phrases in the local language might help reduce this challenge by the way.