You've seen the pictures on the travel blogs: a walk along a janky wooden plank essentially stapled into the side of Mount Huashan in China. It's called the Plankwalk In The Sky and it's "The most dangerous hike in the world."
Here's what it was really like:
I took Cable Car West up to Mount Huashan (the process of getting on the fucking cable car is a stressful shitfuck in and of itself.) I thought it was going to be a scenic hike up to the beginning of the Plankwalk. It was more like a Disneyland clusterfuck. A paved walk the entire way, and full of Chinese tourists who are like What's a queue? What's order? Can I please invade your space? Push push push, spit spit spit.
When I finally got to the Plankwalk (about half an hour from the cable car), there was a long ass line. I waited for two hours and moved about seven feet before they closed the Plankwalk for the day. Okay, well, I'm in no rush. I’ll take the cable car down, drink a few beers, pass out, and wake up early to get the first cable car up the next morning, no problem.
I did just that. Without many people on the mountain at 7am, it was actually a really beautiful trek up to the Plankwalk.
I waited in line only a few minutes before I rented a harness for about $5 USD. Now, renting the harness is mandatory but you don’t have to use it correctly. This is China! If there even are rules, nobody is there enforcing them.
So here is what the Plankwalk is like:
There are two lines (think jump ropes) "secured” into the mountain, about a foot apart, throughout the entire hike. The whole trek is a two way street so the bottom line is for the people going one way to clip their harness to and the top line is for people going back. So, if you are starting the hike and you see someone returning, you have to hug the mountain and make yourself as tiny as possible so the other person can bear hug you and get around without dying. China. It makes total sense.
The first bit of the hike is a staircase with metal rods stuck in rocks. Sometimes there were large gaps between these, but they are sturdy, chubby girl tested. Also, because it’s a two-way street the whole way up, and this shit is narrow as fuck, everyone was moving at the pace of molasses. Honestly, they need to build a bar up there because I spent a long time sitting down on the fucking rods waiting for people to pass me and my classy ass could have used a gimlet.
- The next part is stone cut outs, basically molds in the rocks for your feet.
The third section is the famous plank. These planks seriously look like a nine year old stapled them into the mountain. That said, they aren't as narrow as they look in pictures. You’ll be fucking fine.
The last bit is more stone cut outs and then you have arrived!
Where have you arrived, you ask?
At a shrine. I mean, it’s nice but like...it’s nothing compared to my Michael Jackson shrine when I was in middle school, just saying.
Then you have to go back the same way.
The whole Plankwalk takes about 30 minutes. If it wasn’t such a clusterfuck, it would only take about 10 minutes. The scariest part isn’t the walk so much as when someone detaches their harness from the lines and instead attaches it to the sturdy chain, which is what the participants use to hold on to, like this motherfucker who obviously “did it for the gram”:
I think the Plankwalk is severely overrated. I had such high expectations and it felt a bit anticlimactic. I had a few moments of “da fuq!” but it wasn’t worthy of the label “most dangerous hike in the world.” I’m glad I did it, and if someone has their heart set on it, I’d say go for it. I personally wouldn’t throw down to do it again, though. If you want some seriously scary hikes, get your ass up to Huayna Picchu in Peru or Norway’s Trolltunga in the dark right after a rain.