Tianzi Shan (天子山) : King Mountain, An Armada of Angels

Trail Map

tianzishan elevation chart
Cloud hugs the bottoms of pinnacles rising from dense foliage

Morning mist painted mountains white as we trekked through timid waterfalls and the immense greenery of Tianzi Shan. The towering pillars of rock that make up the Avatar Mountains made for a spectacular backdrop to the forest walk.

At one of the first viewpoints on the trail, a keyhole in the mountain (much like Tianmen Shan) unlocked views to a distant vista. The brushstroked mist rose higher and turned to cloud, snaking its way up the columns of rock.

An armada of angels - hundreds of pillars seem to form a vast wall of rock

We drew level with the tops of the first pillars, our gaze now unobstructed by the dense foliage. We took in Tianzi Shan's monoliths. Cracked armour and steep vertices. Trees sprouted from the cracks and arced gracefully towards the sky. The 'heavenly platform' looked out upon the hundreds of pinnacles which line Tianzi Shan's valley. Their numbers were overwhelming.

The chasm of shards interlocked in a way that made you lose your perception of depth. If this was a heavenly platform, they were an armada of angels.

Hollie looks out onto distant mountain from the summit pagoda

At Tianzi Shan's summit is a tiered pagoda. From here, we watched distant triangular peaks swimming in dancing cloud. Tianzishan is the highest point in the scenic area. If you can fight your way through the crowds, you are able to look around 360 degrees upon much of Wulingyuan.

Pinncales break through lit haze

The descent followed open ground. Rim lit pinnacles were picked out from the dense haze which had accumulated in the empty space between. They bathed in golden light, seeming to grow in size as we descended. At the summit, the pillars had overwhelmed us with numbers, now a single pillar was enough to dwarf us entirely. It put the scale of the land we had seen from above into perspective.

The final stretch followed an incredible gallery of sky-scraping shards. One after another, they just kept coming. They were like old gods, watching over us.

Backdropped by a sunset, trees sprout from unlikely places in the rock

        Words & Photography: Scott Norris (@radventuresofficial) // Summer 2016