Yulong Xueshan, Lijiang’s Guardian Mountain

Yulong Xueshan, Lijiang’s Guardian Mountain

For a local mountain, the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (Yulong Xueshan) is far from Lijiang.

When there are no clouds, however, it does rise above the Naxi minority’s (and romance’s) capital.

It’s a fascinating place – and for me, a case for microexploration.

Yulongxueshan visible, seemingly, at the end of one of Lijiang's old town roads
Yulongxueshan visible, seemingly, at the end of one of Lijiang’s old town roads

The last time I went to Yunnan and through Lijiang (and Shuhe, and to Yuhu at the foot of Yulong Xueshan in the footsteps of Joseph Rock), I did not have time to visit the mountain itself.

It hid itself away, too. The famous view from Heilongtan, the Black Dragon Pool, in Lijiang only showed clouds…

On my first ‘exploration’ of China in 2009, however, I went up there.

Getting High

Entrance to the cable car up Yulong Xueshan, 2009
Entrance to the cable car up Yulong Xueshan, 2009

It’s time to look back at that, and to look closer into the facts and stories of the mountain.

The views on the way up the mountain are already captivating.

A little farther down Yulong Xueshan
A little farther down…
... and a bit higher on Yulong Xueshan
… and a bit higher on Yulong Xueshan
Views towards the peaks
Views towards the peaks

Lijiang already lies at just under 2000 m of altitude above sea level; the cable car up the Yulong Xueshan starts at around 2500 m – and the viewing platform to which it leads lies at 4506 m!

Peak Views on Yulong Xueshan

Wooden walkways allow for even further strolls, all the way to one of the highest viewing platforms worldwide at 4680 m.

Peaks and wooden walkways on Yulong Xueshan
Peaks and wooden walkways on Yulong Xueshan
Yulong Xueshan glacier
Yulong Xueshan glacier

The highest peak of the massif, the Shanzidou, would reach all the way to 5596 m of altitude.

No wonder the mountain lords it over Lijiang! It may be 30 km away, but its peak also lies 3500 m higher!

Given the altitude of the viewing platforms and walkways up there, it’s no wonder small oxygen canisters are being sold to tourists.

The thin air causes issues for many visitors; it’s not exactly a stroll on the wooden walkways that these people experience.

Suicidal Mountain?

Looking down along the mountain flanks into the depths, thoughts of the tradition of love suicide become deeper, potentially more impressive.

View down from Yulong Xueshan
View down from Yulong Xueshan

It also makes it seem less probable that it was quite so common for couples to jump off Yulong Xueshan to at least be together in the afterlife.

The exhaustion of climbing up the mountain alone would have been enough to make one reconsider this path.

Having been up the mountain, the view from a 2000m “hill” around Lijiang back to Yulong Xueshan is a changed one, anyway.

Yulong Xueshan from (and behind) hills around Lijiang
Yulong Xueshan from (and behind) hills around Lijiang

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