Lantau Peak

Friday 1st June was a full moon in Hong Kong and a group of expats figured it would be a good idea to take advantage of this, climb Lantau Peak during the night, aided by the moonlight, with the goal being to get to the summit by sunrise to enjoy the view. This should be dead easy – Lantau, whilst being the second highest peak in the Hong Kong territory, comes in at about 940m. The master plan was as follows:

  • MTR to Tung Chung for 12:45am
  • Taxi to the Lantau trail
  • 4 or so hour torchlight trek to the summit in time for sunrise at 5:30am
  • Descend via a different trail to finish at a Buddhist Monastery where the big Buddha is

Simple, right?

In total 16 people turned up, which was a lot more than Chris, who organised it, expected. The original plan of meeting at the MTR station and jumping in a couple of taxis failed miserably when there was only one blue taxi there when we arrived. It should be noted that the taxi system in Hong Kong is a bit weird, with some taxis permitted to take passengers in some areas and forbidden in other areas. This solitary blue taxi subsequently disappeared after one of the group talked to him. There was a general assumption that he was off to get his mates as there were 16 nutters looking for taxis. This, sadly, was not the case… he’d just cleared off.

After much standing around, and a few phone calls to the (only?) 24 hour taxi company, who either hung up or told us to call back in 5 minutes we realised we were a bit stuck for transport to wherever it was we were supposed to start from. Serious consideration was given to taking the available red taxis (of which there were loads) to the airport and then take blue taxis from the airport to wherever. Going home at this point didn’t seem to be an option as the MTR was now closed.

It was an odd bunch of people (and I do include myself as odd) – ranging from a Canadian expat known only as Chigger (and I still don’t know where that comes from), a group of French guys, some of whom claimed not to know each other, only to realise they sat about two desks away from one another, and some Hong Kong/American ex-pats, and Chris the organiser originally from the UK too. One guy even went so far as suggesting to breaking into one of the parked cars (and I’m not 100% sure he was kidding).

By about 1:30am some random bus showed up who was obviously finishing his run for the night, and one of the group decided to give it a go at persuading him to take us where we needed to be. It’s amazing how much of a persuasion money can be. A negotiated fee of HK$500 was agreed – which I thought was a bit of a bargain, but some of the others thought was ‘quite expensive’.

Arriving at the trail start there were already six or so Hong Kong guys who had looks of amazement on their faces upon seeing what looked like a really organised bunch turn up in a mini-bus. They’d decided to bottle out of climbing. Apparently the overhead lightning was too scary for them. Not so for us, as we had nowhere else to go… It quickly became obvious we had a complete mix in the group of reasonably fit and experienced hikers and one guy who was doing his first hike, and kept worrying about puddles (which is sort of understandable when the fact he was wearing lightweight trainers – bright white ones… to begin with at least). As ever in Hong Kong, it was warm and humid despite being the middle of the night. About halfway up it also decided to rain which we could have done without.

Everyone did eventually make it to the top by about 4:30am in small groups with the last arriving about 25 minutes after the first. With sunrise due for 5:30am we had an hour of sitting around and waiting. The time was filled though by some of the guys noticing they’d had leeches (really small ones though) attach themselves, which then had some of the girls in the group start frantically searching themselves for leeches. The leeches had probably been on the long grass/leaves that sometimes stretched over the path which we had to brush past, so exposed legs/ankles would probably make a nice feast for a leech. Once the panicking over leeches had died down they could then move onto freaking out over the presence of a (fairly small) rat/rodent of some sort also on the summit – someone even threw a rock at the poor thing. And finally, the sight of huge earth worms, grasshoppers was not welcome either, and they were duly stamped on. It really was quite an odd way to spend the morning.

As for the sunrise itself? Well, it must have happened as it got lighter, but we saw sod all at the mountaintop. It was cloudy, foggy, windy, and intermittently rainy. By 5:45am we’d all had enough and made our way back down the mountain to the big Buddha temple. Couldn’t get to see the big Buddha though, as everything was closed at that time in the morning.

I was absolutely shattered when I finally collapsed into bed at about midday on Saturday – still went out for drinks on Saturday night though.

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3 Responses to “Lantau Peak”

  1. Rocco Says:

    Ha ha, sounds like a bit of adventure, leeches and all.

  2. Fernando Says:

    I was wondering how long did it take you to hike all the way up to Lantau Peak?

    • jonnye Says:

      From memory, it took about 3.5 – 4 hours to reach the peak. I should add that the group was quite slow, and the weather conditions were not ideal at the time.

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