Bill and Sue-On Hillman: A 50-Year Musical Odyssey  ::


CONTENTS ::  INTRODUCTION 1. BUS ARRIVAL :: Outtakes 1 :: Scenery 1 2. CABLE CAR :: Outtakes 2 :: Scenery 2 3. UP TO PEAK I :: Outtakes 3 :: Scenery 3
4. UP TO PEAK II :: Outakes 4 : Scenery 4 5. DOWN MTN I :: Outtakes 5 :: Scenery 5 6. DOWN MOUNTAIN II 7. CABLE & CITY :: Outtakes 6 :: Scenery 6
Following our Yangtze cruise we were looking forward to visiting the famed Yellow Mountain. Mt. Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) is part of  a mountain range in southern Anhui province in eastern China. There's an old saying in China, "Once you've been to Yellow Mountain, you won't consider other mountains as mountain." 

The area is well known for its scenery, sunsets, peculiarly-shaped granite peaks, Huangshan pine trees, hot springs and waterfalls, and views of the clouds from above. Huangshan is a frequent subject of traditional Chinese paintings and literature, as well as in modern photography. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of China's major tourist destinations. Vegetation on the range is thickest below 1,100 meters, with trees growing up to the treeline at 1,800 meters.

Our journey time to Huangshan was shortened by our travel on one of the incredible Chinese bullet trains. China is crisscrossed with these elevated rail lines and features more of these electric-powered fast trains than all those in the rest of the world combined. The rest of our trip was on private tour busses and even though we made good time on the freeway systems they couldn't match the +300 km/hr speeds of the bullet trains. The other stops to and from Huangshan we describe elsewhere in our China Adventure series. 

Our bus to the foot of Mt. Huangshan took us along a divided highway past many mountain villages and through a series of long tunnels to Tangkouzhen. At this "base camp" type city we bought walking sticks and entrance tickets and boarded a shuttle bus that took us up to the cable car parking area.  From here we had a fairly long hike to the cable car boarding area. 

The ride on the cable car was a long exciting one that offered terrific views of the mountain scenery -- granite peaks and valleys, unusual granite outcrops and formations, and bonsai-like pine trees growing out of solid rock faces. Mt Huangshan is not just one peak, but an enormous complex of about 70 famous peaks. Our travel companions on this trip were Sue-On's brother Kenny and his wife Rebecca. They have spent many years travelling to the four corners of the world, but a visit to this legendary Huangshan Mountain had always been on their bucket list. They weren't disappointed.

The cable gondola took us to a terminus half-way up one of the main peaks. From there we started our long trek along thousands of concrete and stone steps mostly built into the rock face of the mountainside and many of them carved out of solid rock centuries ago. Walking and climbing the many paths on the Huangshan slopes was a truly memorable experience. There are an incredible variety of rock formations in the valleys and on the granite outcrops. There were a number of vantage "platforms" which provided  rest spots and great vantage points to view the amazing rock formations. Chinese have intriguing names for many of the usual rock formations and if we had more time in our visit it would have been fascinating to learn the names associated with them. A number of visitors with drones have videoed some excellent aerial views of the mountains. The links to some of these videos on Youtube we've included on this page.

The rugged climb isn't recommended for those not physically fit and it was suggested that we bring bottled water, treking shoes, jackets and a walking stick. All four of our Hillman/Choy group are seniors -- 69 to 79 years -- but we all managed the climb quite well and certainly enjoyed the experience. Sue-On and I braved the elements by wearing only light clothes. I believe I was the only one on the mountain wearing shorts and many of the Chinese groups we passed broke into applause in appreciation of an old septuagenarian white codger tackling the rugged and sometimes frigid Huangshan summit in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. 

Folks who have a difficult time hiking around the mountain trails can hire a sedan chair to be carried around the top of the mountain. The sedan is balanced between poles carried by two coolies and is similar to the ones that Sue-On and I were carried on during a Yangtse River Cruise land excursion. 

Ku-li, or coolies, supply the hotels and souvenir shops with food, bottled beer and water, oil, gas, baggage, bedding, souvenirs, etc. These wiry porters carry their heavy +100 kg loads up the mountain balanced on bamboo poles across their shoulders. The trip up takes 3 to 5 hours and they make only a few dollars per trip. We were told that they make less than a dollar per km. Many weren't happy having their photos taken and all became quite frustrated by baffled and/or lazy tourists not moving out of their way as they struggled up and down the often narrow steps. It was quite common to hear them shouting ahead for people to clear the way. During a rest stop one of the porters let me try to lift one side of his load -- a bundled stack of beer cases. It was so heavy I had trouble lifting it. . . and this was just one side of his load.

We stopped for a meal at one of the mountaintop hotels which provided an excellent panoramic view of the peaks and valleys below. We appreciated the meal even more when we realized that all the restaurant supplies had to be toted up by the hard-working coolies.

We took a shorter route from the hotel back to the cable car station. This alternate shortcut involved much more effort since the trails and stairs were steeper. Sitting in the gondola offered a bit of breather time before our long trek back to the shuttle bus. Along the way our photo taking was relentless and it's taken a number of weeks to prepare the photographs from our three cameras for presentation in this Web series. We returned to Huangshan city late in the afternoon which gave us time to explore more attractions in that area. But those descriptions we'll cover in a separate Adventure. 

Photos for this Yellow Mountain Adventure were by 
Bill and Sue-On Hillman
Kenny and Rebecca Choy

Web Design and Notes by 
Bill Hillman

Before we enter our pages with the hundreds of photos we took of Huangshan. . .

An ink painting depicting Huangshan by Shitao, 1670

Chinese ink painting

Huizhou style architecture at the foot of Huangshan

Taiping cable car station entrance

9 Dragon Waterfall at foot of mountain

Guicang Temple at Nine Dragon Waterfall area

Bamboo forest at the foot of the mountain

View from the cable car

 Ying Ke Pine or Welcome Pine

Scenery in Huangshan

A steep cliff at Huangshan

Huangshan pines

Carved steps to Heaven
Tiandu "Celestial Capital Peak"

Tourist steps on the cliffs

Carved steps at Huangshan

Tourist hotels on the peaks

Sea of clouds viewed from top of Huangshan

*** A Drone Video: HuangShan Mountains in China after a snowfall:

*** Huang Shan / Yellow Mountain, the most beautiful mountain in China

*** Huangshan / Yellow Mountain

*** More Drone Videos: Huangshan / Yellow Mountain



CONTENTS ::  INTRODUCTION 1. BUS ARRIVAL :: Outtakes 1 :: Scenery 1 2. CABLE CAR :: Outtakes 2 :: Scenery 2 3. UP TO PEAK I :: Outtakes 3 :: Scenery 3
4. UP TO PEAK II :: Outakes 4 : Scenery 4 5. DOWN MTN I :: Outtakes 5 :: Scenery 5 6. DOWN MOUNTAIN II 7. CABLE & CITY :: Outtakes 6 :: Scenery 6


Bill and Sue-On Hillman