Page Last Edited: February 22, 2020 at 3:04 p.m.
During the August of 2018, me and my parents went to a mountain called Mount Emei. It is a 3099 m tall mountain near Chengdu, China. It is home to many ancient buddha temples, and to a massive golden buddha statue at the top. To get to the top, you can take a bus to a spot called Leidongping. From there you must hike the rest of the way to the top. It's about a 4-5 hour steep climb up lots of stairs. It was extremely tiring, but it was worth the experience. At the top, we spent a night at an expensive hotel, and descended the next day. Here is a recount I wrote describing my experience climbing this mountain. Hope you enjoy!
It was 8am of August 30th, 2018, where my parents and I waited on the bus, ready for adventure, bound to go up Mt. Emei. Mt. Emei is a 3099 metre high mountain, located about one and a half hour train ride west from Chengdu, China. I've always wanted to climb a mountain. I've previously only climbed hills in which usually aren't any more than 200 metres in elevation increase. I've always wanted to at least partially climb a mountain. To freely exist over the clouds. To have a truly unique experience. To experience the true beauty of the sky. This was only ever a dream - until this adventure, one that I'd remember for the rest of my life, emerged.
--------------------August 30th, 2018, 8:00 am. The Bus Ride.
My parents and I stood in the bus station, waiting for our bus to arrive to take us up the mountain. We had purchased tickets for the ride which were fairly expensive, but then again they were taking us up a mountain. I was pretty excited, as this was something I'd wanted to do for a really long time. When the bus arrived, we, along with around 40 other people made our way through a gate, out to the terminal, and onto a bus. The weather at the bottom of the mountain was fairly hot and humid. It was around 30 degrees celsius, and I had worried about the temperature at the top being too hot. I had completely forgotten about the fact that the higher the elevation, the colder it gets. I had even packed a fan and mostly summer clothing for the trip. We each had backpacks with all of our stuff in it which we would carry up the mountain. When we got seated into the bus, a safety video played on some tv screens mounted near the ceiling. I had a left side window seat, my dad beside me on the right, and my mom sat in the row behind us. When the bus started moving, I heard the loud sound of the engine running. My excitement increased, knowing that 2 hours later I'd be at an altitude higher than I'd ever been before, other than being on an airplane. Though after a long and tiring 4 hours after that, we'd be even higher. This bus, as well as every other one, only went up to a stop called Leidongping. Leidongping is the highest bus stop to the summit. From there, the mountain is too steep for vehicles to go up. So after you'd get off you would have to walk another 4 hours, gaining another couple hundred metres in elevation before reaching the summit. I couldn't see the summit of Mt. Emei as the bus went up. The distance from the base to the top was pretty far, with many smaller hills in between. The mass amount of trees also blocked my vision, so from the bottom, it didn't look anything like a mountain. The bus drove in turns side to side up a narrow concrete road, going up in one direction, turning 180 degrees, and driving up in the other. The ride was like this for most of the mountain, but it was still interesting. I kept taking pictures of the scenery with my camera and video taping the ride with my GoPro.
About an hour or so went by when I started feeling a numbness sensation in my arms and legs. I started feeling light headed, and I was starting to feel sick. I thought there was something wrong, like there was a dangerous disease in me. I later realised that that wasn't the case. It was the elevation. As the bus ascended, the air got thinner. Thin air affects the body, where people would start feeling weak and become tired more easily. I felt really weak and I wanted to sleep, which was weird as I had no sensation to sleep just a couple minutes prior. This feeling happened for the rest of the ride. When we arrived, I saw a sign that said "Leidongping". Everyone stood from their seats, some, like me, a little dazed of the elevation, proceeded to get off the bus. I could smell the fresh, cold air of the mountain. We were here. But then, the real challenge awaited us. The climb.
This was when the altitude really kicked in. My parents and I both complained about the altitude. The previous night, I didn't think much about the climb. I was determined. Just a bunch of stairs, that's all. No big deal, I had thought. But now, I started to realize how much of a challenge this was going to be. Even just standing up for the first time from the bus felt dazing. I told myself that I'd get used to it and that it would eventually feel normal. There was a store at the stop which was selling jackets. A salesperson came up to us and asked if we would like to buy one. She said that it would be cold at the top. My dad said no, as we had brought our own sweaters. He said that he didn't think we needed them anyway. It wasn't that cold out. Yes, it was much colder than at the base of the mountain. It was around 15 degrees, but it was manageable without jackets. We then took a bathroom break at the back of the store, and got ready for the climb. I got my GoPro head mount and mounted it on my head so I can film the adventure. The area was cloudy and mild, and the ground was somewhat wet. We were still underneath the clouds, but I could see that they were much closer above us then before.
We followed some people onto some steep stone stairs. Some people were staring at my GoPro as they were probably curious about it. I ignored them and continued up the steep steps. There were occasional breaks in the stairs in which flattened into a slowly inclining path for a couple of metres. There, people set up booths to sell food. We were somewhat hungry, so we bought some corn from the third booth we saw. There were also some booths selling merchandise, such as stuffed monkeys and wooden carvings. The mountain was known for having lots of monkeys living along the way up the mountain. We continued ascending the stairs while eating the corn we had bought. I was hyped. After a while we made it to a cable car station. The cable car went straight to the top of the mountain, though we didn't take it. I wanted a challenge, and to climb from Leidongping to the top completely. I didn't want to take any cable cars. The stairs stopped into a stone platform where the cable car station stood. To the right, there was a stone fence, and beyond that I could see the steep descent down the mountain. It was a dense forest going down as far as I could see. I took pictures of the area with my camera. Ahead of us, beyond the stone platform, we met ancient chinese buildings where ancient people once lived on the mountain. We hiked through a small ancient town built there, signs guiding us towards the continuation of the stairs. After going through the town, the stairs continued. I was already tired, but I knew that there was still much more to come. Not giving up, we continued the climb.12:00 pm. Exhaustion.
The climb had gotten much more intense. The tread of the stairs got smaller, the steps were higher, and there were rarely any bench spots along the path. With the heavy pack on our backs, this had become very tiring. We were now deep in the clouds. The fog thickened and visibility became limited. I could only see a couple metres ahead of me until the path disappeared into the fog. It felt cold and humid, though I didn't let this slow me down. I would climb intensely for about 20 seconds, then stop and wait for my parents to catch up. My dad was usually not far behind, though we often had to wait for my mom as she was carrying the heaviest backpack. This process repeated, but it only got much more tiring the higher we went. There were stone steps with some wooden handrails on the right. The stairs were at around a 50 to 60 degree angle incline. I could see a deep valley to the right, and a dense forest filled with fog on the left. About halfway through the climb we had already ascended about 200 metres in elevation from the bus stop, which was at around 2700 metres in altitude. But at this point I was no longer admiring the scenery or taking pictures with my camera. I was focused on the climb.
I didn't give up. I kept telling myself not to stop going until the next boulder or landmark , and when I reached that, to the next. I set checkpoints for myself so it wouldn't feel as long. The thin air made my body get much more tired more easily. Some simple stairs had become a huge hassle. The entire length of this section was only about 8 km, but because of the high altitude, steep incline, and heavy packs, it felt like much further. It seemed like it never ended. Just when I thought it was over, the path turned to reveal much more stairs to come. When we were nearing the top, things got worse. We were at around 3000 metres in elevation, or around 10 000 feet. This is the altitude in which oxygen masks drop in an airplane. We were well above the comfort altitude for oxygen levels. The cold wintery air didn't help either, as I was starting to get sick. My chest started hurting, I was getting huge cramps, and I started coughing. With intense exhaustion, my walking speed slowed. It would take about 3 seconds to complete one step of stairs. My breathing sounded like moans in the cold air, and I was feeling light headed. It seemed like my parents were exhausted, too, as they were walking slowly as well. Seeing how tired I was, my dad offered to carry my backpack for me. I vowed to carry it myself, as I wanted to complete the challenge with minimal help. Four and a half hours since we started, we were met by some fine, well maintained, concrete stairs. At the top, was a sign that said "100 metres to Jinding". After reading it, I felt so relieved it was almost over. It felt like a huge weight had just lifted off me. Before continuing to see the incredible view from the summit, I flopped on a nearby bench and lied there, resting. We had arrived.
This was something I had always wanted to do, and I had done it. After resting on the bench for a couple minutes, I regained strength, and continued for the summit. A couple minutes later we were met by a large golden statue of a Buddha, and beyond that was the edge of the mountain. A concrete pathway lead up to a final sightseeing location. A crowd stood there, taking pictures of the amazing view. We were above the clouds. When I saw the view, I was more amazed than I'd ever been ever before. I've seen incredibly beautiful pictures of the mountain before, but being there to experience it myself was so much better. When I looked down, I saw the high cliff extending all the way down until it disappeared into the fog. Ahead of us was a vast sea of clouds, and another mountain peak in the distant. The sun was above us, lighting up the bright blue sky, and making the golden statue of a buddha look bright and beautiful. I took many pictures with my camera. The feeling of being above the clouds on a mountaintop was incredible. Before, I was feeling like I wasn't in this world as I was light headed and exhausted. But then, I was immersed with an incredible feeling. I felt more alive than I'd ever been. The view was beyond awesome, the experience was epic, and no picture ever taken could match the feeling of actually being there myself. This was something I'd remember for a very long time. The epicness I was feeling at that very moment was better than anything I had ever experienced, ever.
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