Monday, January 14, 2013

Taishan -1st Set

temple at Taishan with snow on the roof

Here are a few pictures from Taishan. Shan means mountain so this is Mount Tai in English. It is one of the 5 most famous mountains in China.

Shops at the top of Taishan in Shandong ProvinceIt has been one of the most important ceremonial sites in China for most of the last 3000 years.

The mountain is 1545 meters high. In imperial terms that is about 5100 ft or nearly a mile high. It is a very dramatic landscape in that these mountains raise suddenly from the surrounding elevation of about 550 ft to 5100 ft in  just a few miles.

Nan Tian Men at Taishan in Shandong Province

The mountain is a famous destination for emperors and common folk over the centuries  It is said that if you climb all the way up you will live to be 100. The gate in this picture is Nan Tian Men or South Heavenly gate and is the target for the climbers.
The last steps of Eighteen Bends at Taishan in Shandong Province

This is a picture of the last 50 or so of the 7200 steps from bottom to the top.

As you can see some of the folks are pretty wiped out by the time they get to this point. Believe or not there are porters that carry food, cooking oil, etc up the last 3500 steps or so everyday.

This is a picture of the beginning of the trek near the bottom. It was very quiet when we started and only picked up a little during the day.

January isn't the high season. In fact there were more than a few questions raised about the wisdom of a mountain hike in January as a team building plan. But it worked out. It was cold - especially in the morning - but overall the weather was perfect for January.

This is near the beginning, I believe.  I'm pretty sure that is Hong Men or Red Gate in background.

I did not hike all the way up. I hiked the first half which does about half the total elevation change but with more level spots in between the sections of steps. I was so wiped out I apparently couldn't lift the camera to take a picture of Zhong Tian Mem or Middle Heaven Gate.

There are tablets are all over the mountain. To tell you the truth I don't have any idea what they say. I think they reflect the accomplishments or philosophy of various figures over the centuries.

This is a small temple on the lower half.
Goat head soup at Taishan in Shandong Province

Once we arrived at the mid point at about 1100 in the morning or so we stopped for a snack. We didn't have this dish although it was set out on the table to entice passers-by. It is goat head soup. Just add water and heat.

Click to enlarge.

There is a cable car from the half way point up to near the top. I and most of my colleagues opted for the cable car although 8 of our group did hike the entire distance.

This is a picture of the roof tops of one of the temple complexes at the top of the mountain.

I've sort of lost track but the temple at the top of the stairs in this picture might be the same temple above.

It is hard to convey the scale of the mountain and the difficulty of climbing the entire thing in one go. This is a picture of a section of the last part of the climb up to the top. The steps are in the valley in the center of the picture. Click to enlarge. To help put it in perspective the lower cable car station is behind the conical mountain in the center back part of this picture. The cable car station is at the HALFWAY point. Younger and/or fitter people than I do it but for me it is inconceivable in my current condition - especially the 2nd half which is mostly just steps with no break.

This guy was working on a snowman. In China the don't seem to roll the snow into balls but rather sculpt the snowmen from piles of snow.

This is a view of some of the features at the top. You can see the cable car tower in the background on the horizon.

Inscriptions at Taishan

These are famous inscriptions at the top. No idea what they say.

Locks and prayer requests at temple at the top of Taishan

This is the temple at the very top. I need to check out the story on the locks but I think it is a way to get your prayer heard by the gods. I'm pretty sure the red in the background are prayer requests written on red tablets.

You can see the elevation listed as 1545 meters on the tablet.

More pictures in the next posting.

More on Taishan --> Wikipedia - Taishan

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