Your sweaty hands tightly grip the rusty metal chains.
You wedge your right foot into a small 4 in. deep cubby hole on the cliff face. The left foot dangles freely and paws at the wall, searching.
Unfortunately, the steep angle of decent makes it impossible to get a visual on your left foot’s next landing pad.
You find it. Surprisingly, it’s off to the right side of your right foot, making your legs criss-cross each other.
Continue this way for another 15 meters, flailing and prodding blindly for the next recess chiseled into the mountain.
As the path snakes and almost “flips” over on itself, you’re not sure where you’ll land if you fall. Thank God you’re wearing a safety harness.
Finally you reach the bottom.
Congratulations, you’ve just conquered Sparrow Hawk Flipping Over.
Now go collect your reward – a sweeping view of jaunty mountains atop a lonely chess pavilion.
How much does it cost, How to get there, Safety:
Sparrow Hawk Flipping Over is a steep rock face on the East Peak of Mount Hua. The trail was dangerous in the past, however with the recent addition of a safety harness, it’s become much less so. Entry into the park costs 180 Yuan, or 90 with a student ID. The harness costs 30 yuan and if you want a picture, tack on an extra 20 spot. High speed trains depart 12 times a day from Xian North station and cost 35 Yuan (42 minutes). A 20 minute taxi ride from the town’s train station to the mountain is between 20 and 30 Yuan.
What to Do on Mount Hua: Plank Road in the Sky vs. Sparrow Hawk Flipping Over
Huashan is also home to the infamous “Plank Road in the Sky”. Perhaps not as scary, Sparrow Hawk Flipping Over is less busy than it’s more popular counterpart. Still, Hawk Flipping Over is more technically demanding and can be used as a warm up for the plank road. It’s a 20 minute walk to the Plank Road from Sparrow Hawk Flipping Over. Both are on the East Peak.
Description of Sparrow Hawk Flipping Over displayed on a sign atop the mountain:
Hawk Flipping Over is located at the Eastern Peak of Huashan Mountain, which, as the only way to Chess pavilion, is one of the famous dangerous paths of Huashan Mountain. The path was chiseled along the cliff. Looking down from the path, one can see no paths but the ropeway hanging in the air. When tourists travel here, they have to face the cliff wall while holding to the rope, searching for rock recesses with tiptoes of two feet alternatively. Along the way, in some steps, one has to move like a hawk somersaulting to pass, hence the name.
According to the legend, in the period of Emperor Wu in Han dynasty, Wei Shuqing cultivated himself at Huashan Mountain. Emperor Wu dispatched some envoys and his ministers to Huashan Mountain to invite him. When they arrived, they saw Shuqing playing chess with others on a stone. So it’s also named “Chess Platform”. The platform is of some square meters, with three sides facing the valley, only connected with a knife-shape ridge of Eastern Peak. In cloudy and foggy weathers, it looks like a fairy island looming on the sea, so miraculous.