Are you looking for an invigorating challenge while on holiday in Sri Lanka? Then a climb or trek up Adam’s Peak is the perfect activity, especially if you are here during January to about March, when it is less windy and so less difficult to make the actual climb to the summit. It can get crowded as locals and tourists alike make the climb during this season, but that makes the experience feel more communal and even if you prefer your climb to be solitary there is something safe and comforting in the numbers, as you climb the 5000 to 6000 odd rugged steps to the summit.
It is a 7,359 ft tall mountain located in the southern reaches of the central highlands in the Ratnapura district and the Nuwara Eliya district in the Sabaragamuwa province. Adam’s Peak is about 40km northeast of the Ratnapura city and 32km southwest from the city of Hatton.
Most locals refer to the mountain as Siri Pada, which translate to ‘sacred footprint’ as according to Buddhist tradition, the footprint in the rock near the summit of the mountain is believed to be that of Lord Buddha. According to Christian and Islamic belief it belongs to St. Thomas or Adam, while Hindu tradition says that is that of Shiva. No matter what the belief, be it for the sake of pilgrimage or simply for a new experience, the Adam’s Peak climb is one that should be done.
The purpose of the climb is two-fold for most. To worship the sacred footprint and to be at the summit as the sun gently rises throwing light and warmth over the surroundings. The climb usually starts at very early dawn so that you can be at the summit in time for the spectacular sunrise.
There are six possible trails to reach the foot of the mountain with the Nallathanni and Palabaddala routes being the most popular, as they are linked to major cities. The usual route followed by most is the ascent via Hatton and descent via Ratnapura. And while the Hatton trail maybe the steepest it is also the shortest by about five kilometres.
The climb is strenuous but not technical. It involves climbing rocky or rough stone steps leading from the base of the summit. The way is well-illuminated with electric lights, so that night-time ascent is convenient and safe, even with kids. There are refreshment stalls, shops and rests along the way, however, if you prefer you can take your own light snacks and water. It is easy to carry a backpack as the climb is straightforward but don’t make it too heavy.
Layering on your clothes is your best bet as the climb can be hot but it gets very cold once at the summit. Also, be sure to have thick socks and sturdy shoes for the climb to negotiate the steps and keep your feet warm. If you feel the cold a lot, then a cap or a beanie would also be advisable. And last but not least be prepared to take lots of pictures of the mounting sun and the panoramic view it brings to life for lasting memories.
The descent can be a little slow as your tired legs negotiate the steps down, but altogether you will fill a deep sense of accomplishment that will counter any physical aches you may feel.