Lao Shan 崂山

April 2, 2018


Qingdao / Shandong Province, China

Lao Shan is a complicated massif that sits just to the east of Qingdao and is the highest peak along China’s east coastline. The peak is better known for its religious and historical affiliation but in recent years it sees more and more tourists coming. The main “trail” has since become paved and the ascent is now about 700 m elevation gain on nothing but concrete staircases. One can also opt to take a gondola ride which shaves off about 400 m gain, but the last part has to be done on foot no matter what. The actual summit is off reach because of a military base and the highest point that anyone without permit can reach is Lingqi Peak that’s roughly 100 m lower than the true summit.

The transportation logistic from Qingdao to the start of Lao Shan’s main trail is very complicated. I ended up spending quite a few hours researching and in the end I did manage to put all parts together. From my hotel near the Qingdao railway station I had to take two separate bus rides to get there. I woke up at around 6 am and had a quick breakfast in my hotel’s restaurant. The breakfast serving technically wasn’t ready yet at that time of a day but they did let me in, eating whatever that’s already served. After the breakfast I walked about 10 minutes to the railway station and then managed to catch the first bus ride. More than an hour later I arrived at the Lao Shan service area, bought a ticket and then got onto the second bus. This bus brought everybody to the base of our hike.

This is the gate at the start of Lao Shan summit hike

After a quick ticket check I started the ascent. This was a Monday morning and other than a couple locals I didn’t encounter anyone else during the ascent. In less than an hour I reached the upper gondola station and from there onward the grade steepens up slightly. The scenery is more variable than I thought with lots of granite towers looming around. If this is in North America I guarantee this will become a new climber’s paradise. Contrary to the North American culture, here in China rock climbing is prohibited and tourists are only allowed to hike “on trail”…

This is the typical scenery along the first kilometer or so

At places I could see the summit area ahead

As always one has to deal with staircases in China..

Wild cat but obviously it’s food conditioned pretty badly

Arriving at the upper gondola station

Passing the station I came to this huge rock tunnel

This pinnacle has some very interesting look….. Up to your imagination …

Lots of other pinnacles too. All clean granite.

Just another gate along the way.

It’s getting steeper now.

Towards the end this “trail” turns climber’s right direction and ascends straight up towards a gate or temple and then the summit of Lingqi Peak is only 10 minutes away. There’s fair amount of exploration one can do on the summit area including a wood bridge. The actual summit is a 3-meter boulder which I climbed nonetheless. I did a long lingering for the others to catch up so that I could get some pictures of myself.

This is looking towards the summit area with some huge granite spires

Me posing for a photo. Behind states “No. 1 peak along East Coast”

Getting higher now. You can see that previous pinnacle.

Just another shot of the views.

Almost at the summit now looking at that famed bridge

The name of this pavilion is “star pick”

Looking at the true summit area which is occupied by a military base

Another view looking down from LingQi Peak..

A black-and-white view. Not much to see thank to the smoke.

Me on the summit of Lao Shan – Lingqi Peak

The true summit of Lao Shan is occupied by a military base hence off limit. I went to explore things around and indeed all “paths” came to a dead end and bushwhacking wasn’t really an option, but that’s fine. I retraced back to the main route and slowly, but steadily descended back to the bus station. My legs were very tired from yesterday’s Tai Shan ascent and I have to say that the concrete staircases aren’t nearly as easy as I thought.

Before heading down I had to go explore this bridge

Another view of this bridge

Me standing on the vridge

Checking other things out I found this huge crack.

I would like to climb this spire, but oh well…

Heading down.

It’s that pinnacle again. All up to your imagination lol…

Two cats now. Everybody’s feeding them.

Almost done. My legs were done too..

Two long bus rides got me back into the city of Qingdao and I still had about half a day to explore. I got off the second bus about 10 km short from my hotel and decided to walk all the way back along the coastal shoreline. This turned out to be a very good call and I indeed got to experience what the city of Qingdao offered.

Exploring Qingdao’s coastline

Taking every opportunity to scramble…

Qingdao’s coastline.

I like the late afternoon lighting.

Exploring the pier in the evening.

Eventually after dinner I got back to the hotel at around 8 pm, had a quick shower and went to rest up. I still had the morning of Apr. 3rd to explore this city and in the end I made a spontaneous call to ascend another peak.