Key information: Emei Shan
- One of China's sacred mountains, and the first bastion of the mountainous Tibetan fringe. A magical, historic place of forests, cliffs and chasms dotted with temples, pagodas and other sites, where people have been walking and contemplating for more than a millennium.
- Walk up ancient stone paths and steps, past temples and tea plantations, then through cloud and bamboo forest. Pass ancient buildings; stay in an ox-blood Buddhist monastery. Catch glimpses of mist-wreathed cliffs as you get higher.
- At the Golden Summit, explore the temples, glimpse the vast abyss beneath the peak through swirling cloud - or occasionally get a magnificent view toward the mountains and over the hazy plain of Sichuan plain.
- You gain altitude fast, climbing endless flights of hewn steps: pace yourself. Come prepared for unpredictable mountain weather.
- Huge numbers come at high times: avoid these, or be prepared to walk on remoter paths if you want seclusion.
- Walkopedia rating87
- Natural interest15
- Human interest14
- Negative points5
- Total rating87
- Note: A tough slog up endless steps; rapid altitude gain; crowds at the top
- Length: 2-3 days
- Maximum Altitude: 3,099m
- Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
WILLIAM MACKESY'S ACCOUNT
of this walk
My climb up Emei Shan, the sacred mountain in western China, in the autumn of 1991, has influenced the course of my life. Much has changed since I was there, so do not treat this account as up-to-date.
I had been living in Hong Kong for 3 years by then, and had been to China's “easier” places, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guilin. This was my first expedition into the back woods. It was not all that long since China's opening up to the world after the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution, and foreigners were still rare enough to be stared at even in the great cities. With.....READ MORE
Other accounts: share your experiences
Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.
Section in Southwest China – Lonely Planet: good information and basic map.
Section in Southwest China Off the Beaten Track by K. Mark Stevens and George E. Wehrfritz. Nice hand-drawn map. (1988 – now out of date.)
Section in Sichuan – Mary Holdsworth for Odyssey Guides. (1992 – also out of date, but good depth and quality of information.)
Section in China – Rough Guides.
The routes are fairly obvious, and the maps in the guidebooks will be sufficient for most purposes More detailed, but not specially reliable, maps can be bought in the area.
Stanfords: www.stanfords.co.uk. An excellent (and user-friendly) online specialist source of worldwide maps (it is also good for guidebooks).
Best times to walk/weather
Best times to walk
Generally thought to be May, September and October. Winter is bitterly cold and icy on the trails. While summer on the mountain is much cooler than the plains of Sichuan, it is likely to be both misty and crowded in places (huge numbers at high times – avoid them or be prepared to take remoter paths).
You can have beautiful days and clear views, but come prepared for mist or cloud, unpredictable mountain weather and cold nights. Bring good rainwear.
Most visitors come to Emei Shan from Chengdu, often via or followed by time at Leshan. Buses connect these places to Emei town (best avoided) and the village below Baoguo Si Temple. Minibuses go from there to higher roadheads and the cablecar at Jieyin Dian.
Foreigners will need to pay an entrance fee.
There are several potential starting points: Baoguo Si at the bottom, or roadheads below the higher Qingyin Ge and Wannian Si (1,020m): given the toughness of the climb, most people take the higher options.
See “Walk Summary” above for information on the two main routes. The guidebooks have good information on the alternatives. People often climb up one route and walk back on the other, although you can get up the final 500-odd metres by cablecar, and descend the whole way by minibus, if time is short or you are feeling soft. It is likely to take ten hours from Wannian Si to Jinding Summit (some 7,000m), so most people stop overnight on the way up.
Possible problems, health, other warnings
- Altitude: Will affect everyone to a degree. Come prepared to cope.
- Mountain weather: Rain, cold and wind are possible at any time of year, snow and ice in winter. Come prepared.
- Heat and strong sun. Carry enough water and protect yourself.
- Harmful or annoying animals, including the infamous bands of robber monkeys. Take all appropriate precautions. If you meet monkeys, hold your hands out, with palms open (and, some say, clap), to demonstrate that you do not have any food. They get teased by the locals, so can be unpleasant. Preferable not to meet them alone.
- This can be a remote area: help may be hard to get if things go wrong.
- Health risks: This is a relatively undeveloped country, and you will not get prompt medical help of a standard available elsewhere if you become ill. Come prepared, including getting all appropriate inoculations/medications.
See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.
Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Make sure you have appropriate insurance.
Guided or independent?
Most people do this walk independently, but come fully prepared for a tough walk.
Guided/supportedSome people form or join organised/supported expeditions. This is not necessary, but some will prefer to do it this way, and travelling here with a knowledgeable guide has real advantages. Expedition organisers include:
Stay, if you can, in one of the monasteries on the mountain. They are hugely atmospheric (if basic), but are cold at night, so come with warm clothing. Arrive early for the best chance of a place.
The guidebooks describe a selection of possible accommodation on and around the mountain – plan with care, as availability, quality and attitudes change.
Other information and tips
Bring good rainwear and warm layers. And a torch. Be careful what you drink. Bring along a stick.
Useful websites and information
There are few websites with particularly good information. Try:
Other things to do in the area
· If time is short, there are good day walks around Baoguo Si.
· Climb a cliff beside the giant Leshan Dafu Buddha
share your experiences
Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
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