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Cangshan Mountain

The Cangshan Mountain, with a snow line at 3,800 metres altitude, offers the chance to see snow even in summer. Along with some friends, all mountaineering-lovers, I went there in early summer.

That sunny day at noon, without a hitch, we reached Zhonghe Peak. At an elevation of 4,092 metres, it is the third highest peak of the Cangshan Mountain, and is the location of the Cangshan Television Broadcasting Station. We took photos to commemorate this successful ascent; behind us, the solemn and spectacular Malong Peak, summit o f Cangshan Mountain, casting a huge, dragon-like shadow on the icy ground. Then, following a clear path, we climbed up Yuju Peak from a southern pass.

Malong and Juju Peaks are joined by an 800-metre-long section of gently-sloped ridge. The ridge teems with jagged rocks while the slopes are dominated by azalea bushes. Beyond the azaleas is a boundless expanse of white snow.

The ridge underneath Malong Peak is extremely sharp and precipitous, resembling a saw with irregular teeth. The north face is a steep gradient of more than 60 degrees extending into a gloomy ravine 800 metres deep. The south face is an unfathomable abyss. The team members far in front looked like ants crawling on a huge monster.

The path finally ended and my heart was beating with joy and pride. People who have never ascended Malong Peak cannot possibly capture the whole picture of Cangshan: the mountain is not only verdant, elegant and serene, but also magnificent, solemn, tough and chilly.

The saddle area was covered with knee-deep snow. The fact that we were not wearing boots with crampons and that the path was just several metres wide increased the risks for us amateur mountain climbers. We made our way through by cutting steps with ice-axes.

Then we had to scramble up a sheer precipice. Luckily the rocky cliff provided perfect footholds for our ascent. Nevertheless, before each move forward, we made sure that the other three limbs were secure before we moved the fourth one. I cheered heartily for myself after I successfully conquered this difficult section.

Finally at 3:10 p.m., we reached the top of Malong Peak, 4,122 metres above sea level, and found the metal monument erected by the Dali Prefecture Science and Technology Committee in 199 and the 1990 iron sign of the Kunming Mountain Climbing and Tourism Association.

Tips for the Traveller:

Transport: Flights departs from Kunming for Dali at 08:30 every day except Thursday, at 12:40 on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and at 09:20 on Thursday and Friday. The journey lasts about 35 minutes and the ticket costs 340 yuan. There is also a sleeper coach which takes eight hours.

Touring: The snow-line of Cangshan Mountain is 3,5.. metres above sea level in winter. Climbing Malong Peak in winter is not recommended for ordinary tourists. Experienced mountaineers can ascend the 4,092-metre Zhonghe Peak in winter and early spring to admire the white snow world. No restaurants and hotels exist on the mountain.

Recommended one-day tour for tourists: Get a cable car from Dali to Zhonghe Temple. Walk southwards along Yudai Road towards Xiaguan and Qingbi Steam, enjoying the scenery of Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake on the way. This is a five-hour trip, so remember to bring along your own food. A path leads eastwards from Qingbi Stream to Xiaguan-Dali Highway where Dali- or Xiaguan-bound coaches pass.

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