Mountain Huashan or Mt. Hua Shan is located in the eastern part of Shaanxi Province, about 120 kilometers from Xian, belonging to the eastern section of Mount Qinling. Seen from a distance, its five peaks look like a flower, hence the name (flower is pronounced hua in Chinese).
As early as the 2nd century BCE, there was a Daoist temple known as the Shrine of the Western Peak located at its base. Daoists believed that in the mountain lives a god of the underworld. The temple at the foot of the mountain was often used for spirits mediums to contact the god and his underlings.
From the North Peak, a series of paths rise up to the Canglong Ling, which is a climb more than 300 meters on top of a mountain ridge. This was the only trail to go to the four other peaks, the West Peak (2038 m), the Center Peak (2042 m), the East Peak (2100 m) and the South Peak (2154.9m), until a new path was built to the east and walk around the ridge in 1998.
Huashan has historically been a place of retreat for hardy hermits, whether Daoist, Buddhist or other; access to the mountain was only deliberately available to the strong-willed, or those who had found “the way”. With greater mobility and prosperity, Chinese, particularly students, began to test their mettle and visit in the 1980s. The inherent danger of many of the exposed, narrow pathways with precipitous drops gave the mountain a deserved reputation for danger. As tourism has boomed and the mountain’s accessibility vastly improved with the installation of the cable car in the 1990s, visitor numbers surged. Despite the safety measures introduced by cutting deeper pathways and building up stone steps and wider paths, as well as adding railings, fatalities continued to occur.
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