There are no 'short-cuts' on Huangshan Mtn!
If you are pressed for time and want the easiest route to climb Huangshan Mountain, read this. My 72 yr old mother and I climbed Huangshan in 48hrs in September 2009. The easiest up route is to take the Yungu cablecar up, and ascend the Eastern steps. This is route doesn't have many ascents, and is a fairly easy for even 2 older women to do. The view is lovely! It takes approx 1 hr to do the actual steps from the cable car, with plenty of stops to rest and take photos (longer if you are slightly out of shape!). No smoking is allowed along this route except at the cable car (mom is a smoker!). We stayed at the Beihai hotel at the top. Mornings at the top of Huangshan will find you at the sunrise-viewing platform with about 30 other people. It's a tight squeeze, with uneven footing since it's not a flat platform up there! On the way down, we decided to take the 'short-cut' route, and not take the western sea canyon route. Well, if you take the 'short-cut', sure it's less distance to walk but it is entirely UPHILL WALKING. There is no view along this route! Just stairs & stairs & stairs going up up up. In hindsight, we should have taken the slightly longer western sea canyon route, to at least appreciate the view. Once we hit the actual 'western steps' down, the view was more incredible than the eastern side! However, we would have been in agony attempting the upward journey as it is VERY steep and clings to the side of the moutain. But, so worth it going down! Time down is approx 3-5 hours, depending on how fast you go. We were pressed for time to hit the Yuping cable car before it shut down for the night (530pm) so we hired the porters to haul us down. We heard it was pricey, and it was. We managed to negotiate a price of 700RMB EACH (1400 total) to go from the Tian Pavillion down to the cablecar. It was pricey, but they had to haul both of us down and we each weighed around 155 pounds, and we wanted them to rush. It didn't look like you could negotiate a better rate, their supervisors seem to be watching the porters closely and when we got them to come down from 780RMB to 700RMB, they all turned to the supervisor and waited for his nod before taking us. AND THEY MOVED FAST! We got down in about 1.5 hrs with these guys with a couple of stops for rests. They also hinted about giving them a tip (we did, they really deserved it! 38 celsius!). For 4 guys, we gave them an extra 250RMB total. Since we had to catch the train at 7pm in Tunxi, we paid it. And what a memory we have now!!