25 October 2017

Moon Hill: The Hill with a Hole Through It

The Chinese province of Guangxi, on the border of Vietnam, is renowned throughout the world for the beauty of its karst landscapes.  One of the more unusual features the province has to offer is Moon Hill.  It has a large semi-circular hole which goes right through it.

As such it struck the imagination of those who first came across it and it has been forever known as Moon Hill.

Moon Hill looks almost as if it was man-made.  Yet it is the product of almost unimaginable millennia of dissolution by nature.  The hill is made of limestone, which is soluble.  To begin with, the karst pinnacle, the hill itself, was formed. Then, as water seeped through the rock, at first it created a cave.  Over time the cave became larger and larger.  Eventually its size was such that its exterior walls collapsed leaving the huge space in the center of the hill which we see today. 

Image Credit Flickr User Nathan Wind
Its statistics are impressive.  The hill is 750 feet (230 meters) in height with a width of 1,350 feet (410 meters).  While its Chinese name, Yueliang Shan literally – and rather generously - translates as Moon Mountain, the arch itself is 164 feet (60 meters) in height.  It makes an impressive backdrop to anyone’s back garden, that is for sure.

Image Credit Flickr User Kyle Taylor
Image Credit Flickr User gromanuk
It only takes about twenty minutes to get to the arch from the nearby towns and villages of Yangshuo County (the nearest being Fenglou Village), although in the summer months the area is somewhat plagued by mosquitoes which might make it a little less pleasant than expected.  As such it is best to ascend in the early morning, before the mosquitoes and the heat become too much. There is a small fee to access the hill and plenty of vendors around selling refreshments and bug spray.

Image Credit Flickr User Matthew Reeve
Legends abound around Moon Hill.  One has it that it is the site of a palace, in which live Chang’e, the Jade Rabbit and her companion Wu Gang, two Chinese immortals.  Many of the rocks around the site are said to resemble them.  For many Chinese, the Moon Hill remains a mystical place, the home of supernatural beings.

Image Credit Flickr User Maria Ly
Image Credit Flickr User Maria Ly
The climbing community flock to the hill which was first placed on their radar by American climber Todd Skinner in 1992.  He created a line which crosses the gap in the hill which he christened Moonwalker.  Now hundreds of climbers each year follow in his footsteps.

Image Credit Flickr User Maria Ly
Image Credit Flickr User Alexander Savin
There are 14 rock-climbing routes on the northwest side. Moon Hill provides a more than adequate challenge to amateur and professional climbers alike. Most people leave it to the experts.

Image Credit Flickr User Maria Ly
Image Credit Flickr User Erwin Van Der Meer
Although the hill’s allure to climbers is huge for those who see no or little fun in risking life and limb the promise of the view at the hill’s summit is often enough to persuade people that the journey to the top is worth it.

Image Credit Flickr User gromanuk
Image Credit Flickr User wisze
They rarely leave disappointed.  Fenglou village looks as if it might be inhabited by ants as you look down upon it.

Image Credit Flickr User Giles Vogt
Perhaps, in twenty thousand years or so the entire hill will collapse yet for now Moon Hill stands, resplendent in the karst landscape of Guanxi.

First Image Credit Flickr User Bourdeu