Fancy a cup of tea with a sprinkle of danger? Marvelous. Just toddle on up to the southernmost peak of Mount Hua in China's Shaanxi province. When you get to an altitude of 7,087 feet, you'll see a temple. That's where the tea is. Oh, just a note: if you're toting any caution, you'd best throw it to the wind.
The journey up Mount Hua, or Huashan, is fraught with intimidating challenges. The "Heavenly Stairs" carved into the stone are shallow, steep, and often unaccompanied by handrails or barriers to prevent you toppling down the mountain should you lose your footing. The cliffside "path" consists of uneven planks of wood nailed to struts that stick out of the near-vertical mountainside. These plank paths are so narrow that they can only accommodate one wall-clinging person at once. Should you encounter someone heading in the opposite direction, you'll need to get creative — and cuddly — to pass each other.
In some sections of the cliff path, there are no planks at all — just notches carved into the stone. Put your feet in these and pray to your preferred higher power or collective energy source. (And for the love of all that is good, leash yourself to the chain that's hammered into the wall at waist height.)
Once you've reached the southern summit, you'll be rewarded with spectacular views across Huashan's peaks — and a cup of tea that tastes like victory. Take the time to savor it before embarking on your harrowing descent.
Other perilous paths:
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