By now, news of the tragic death of Arun Veembhur while hiking alone on CangShan mountains is widespread. I'm not here to offer any new information - only a new perspective.
If Arun's death (and the handful of other deaths and even the successful rescue) taught us anything, it is that while seemingly benign, the CangShan mountains are actually quite dangerous. The mountain towers only 2000m above Dali (the peak is at 4,100m elevation), tempting people to attempt to ascend and descend in one day. While it's certainly possible, it's not recommended, since rushing up and down is more likely to result in an accident, or even a minor injury. The best strategy is to spend one night at the Higherland Inn (2,700m) and/or bring camping gear to bivouac closer to the top.
In addition, it's advisable to hike up the mountain with someone who has experience. While the trails are not exceptionally difficult to follow, only a couple are well-trodden and there are only a handful of trail markers, which means the potential to get lost still exists. ClimbDali can provide you with a guide, or failing that, a map of the mountains. Contrary to what you may have heard, there is really only one route that should be attempted without the aid of an experienced guide. This route begins at the chairlift, passes ZhongHe Temple and the Higherland Inn, and continues up to the Horse Washing Pond and TV Tower at the moment. Upon reaching the top, you are advised to come back the way you came. There is a path that leads down another way, but there arn't any signs and it's too easy to get lost (something Arun learned the hard way).
Finally, make sure you pack accordingly. The search and resuce capacity of the CangShan PSB is minimal, which means that once you enter the mountains, youy are essentially on your own. Bring plenty of food and water, warm clothes (in case you need to weather sub-zero temperatures at night), a small first-aid kit, compass/GPS, and some way og signalling rescuers (i.e. whistle, cell phone , matches, etc.).
Most importantly, please don't hike alone. If you search around, contact us and the HigherLand Inn, you should be able to find a partner. Failing that, tell someone that you will be hiking in CangShan, so they know to alert rescuers if you don't return by a given time.
If you exercise good judegment, there's no reason why you can't explpore Cangshan enjoyably and safely.