Sunday, December 20, 2009

Yushan open ...and Snow West Ridge!

Some pre-Christmas good news.

The dry weather has been good for roads being reopened. See for more.

Yushan's Main Peak is now slowly reopening to regular hikers. We will be checking out the trail in the next few weeks and then scheduling hikes from March onwards. The national park still has not officially announced, but is very likely to do so, the annual closure of Yushan for the month of February. Longer trails (other than the Main and its sub-peaks) deeper in the park remain very much closed for the time being.
Some excellent news! Ten years after being closed by the 921 earthquake, the Snow Mountain West Ridge (雪山西稜) trail is to officially reopen next month. This 6-day hike from Wuling, over Snow Main, Cuichr Pond (pictured), and exiting at Dasyueshan will be back on our schedule as soon as possible - possibly March. The local hiking community had been vigorously protesting the lack of progress on reopening this important route - lots of 'Top 100' Baiyue peaks along the way. Note that in some places the trail is very rough, and is only suitable for the experienced hiker.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Yushan (Jade Mountain) reopening...?

It is very likely that Yushan's trails will not start reopening until March 2010. Nothing has been officially confirmed yet, but this was one of the main conclusions at a recent meeting between the National Park and local hiking groups.

Repairs to approach roads are still at an early stage. Both highways No 21 from Nantou, and No 18 via Alishan, to Tataka (Tatajia) are in a very bad shape. It inadvisable to approach the area without a very good reason and a 4-wheel drive vehicle. The standard Tataka trail to the main peak of Yushan (Jade Mountain) will probably be the first reopened. The entry points to the longer trekking trails, such as via Dungpu/Batongguan and the Southern Cross Highway, will remain closed for a longer time.

One bit of good news. Competition for permits has been, and will continue to be, stiff. It has been suggested that foreign hikers be allowed to apply 3 months in advance for the required spaces at Paiyun Cabin. Should this become official policy (hope so!) it will be reflected in our spring schedule.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Revised 2009 - 2010 schedule.

This has been a difficult time to be scheduling hikes. Sorry to those of you that await a proper email response to various reasonable questions - keep pestering me!

Most of the mountains in the southwest including Yushan National Park and along the Southern Cross remain very closed. I've been updating the previous post regarding trail and road news.

The most optimistic prediction for Yushan's Main Peak is that it may be reopened in November. The various bits of damage to the trail, Paiyun Lodge, and traverse via Batongguan are well illustrated in the word document accessible here on the national park's website (the link is in the middle of the page beneath the dotted lines). Road access to Tataka via Alishan is possible by four-wheel drive vehicles. Tataka from Nantou (number 21) will not be passable for many months - for the gory photos see here.

Below is a provisional listing of hikes open to anyone fit enough for November to February. The good news (need some after talking about Yushan) is that northern Taiwan trails are generally in good condition - and the conventional approach to Daba is open.

November 2009

Nenggao-Antongjyun Traverse (能高安東軍縱走) Full
4th evening 10th evening.Up the Nenggao Trail, south along the spine, and exiting at Aowanda. See for a few more details.

Daba Jian (大霸尖山)
12nd evening - 16th evening.
Extended approach from Guanwu to the famous barrel-shaped mountain.

Danda Cross-Island/Southern Third Section (丹大橫斷/南三段)
November 19th - 29th.
One of the longest cross-island routes - tough.


Yushan (玉山, Jade Mountain). Likely to be still closed.
1st evening - 3rd evening. Note, still not sure if it will be open, permits must be applied for before November 1st.The standard approach to the main summit. Excellent food, sleeping bags provided at Paiyun cabin.

Nengao Trail and Cilai South (能高奇萊南峰).
4th evening - 6th evening or 7th afternoon.
Fantastic historic trail to the spine of Taiwan.

Snow Mountain (雪山, Syueshan, and many other names...)
9th evening to 12th evening
The standard approach to Taiwan's second highest peak. May consider Wuling Quadruple peaks (武陵四秀)

Chitsai Lake and Hioushun Mountain (七彩湖六順山)
15th - 19th.
Hike to the spine of Taiwan from Hualian County.

Yushan (玉山, Jade Mountain). Likely to be still closed.
20th evening - 22nd evening.
Note, still not sure if it will be open, permits must be applied for before November 19th.
The standard approach to the main summit. Excellent food, sleeping bags provided at Paiyun cabin.

Nengao Trail and Cilai South (能高奇萊南峰).
24th morning - 27th evening.
Fantastic historic trail to the spine of Taiwan.

Cilai East Ridge (奇萊東稜)
New Year's 31st on Hehuan - January 6th evening.
Epic, rigorous hike over Cilai North finishing in Taroko Gorge.

January 2010

Snow Holy Ridge (聖稜線)
10th evening - 14th evening.
The circular 'O' route. Fast, tough, not for those with vertigo.

Yushan (玉山, Jade Mountain).17th evening - 19th evening. Likely to be still closed.
Note, still not sure if it will be open, permits must be applied for before December 15th.
The standard approach to the main summit. Excellent food, sleeping bags provided at Paiyun cabin.

Sinkang Ridge (新康)
21st evening - 28th - pending reopening of trail.
From the Jiaming Lake, over Sinkang, exiting via the Walami trail.


Snow Mountain via Sikayo (Jhihjiayan) Mountain (志佳陽雪山)
1st evening - 4th night.
The original approach to the mountain. Descend via the East Peak.
OR possibly:
Snow Mountain North Peak and Cuichr Pond, checking out the dragon's spine and glacial cirques (combes) of the area.

Baigu Mountain (白姑大山).
5th evening - 8th evening.
The rarely rarely climbed, south of the Snow Range, made more inaccessible by the 921 earthquake.

Daba Jian (大霸尖山)
12nd evening - 16th evening.
Extended approach from Guanwu to the famous barrel-shaped mountain.

Jiaming Meteor Lake (嘉明湖)
22th evening - 25 evening.
Pending reopening of trail.

Siluan Dashan (西巒大山)
26th evening - 28th evening.


Yanshui Fireworks (鹽水蜂炮)
Not our usual sort of trip. We will spend the main night of the festival in Yanshui (Yenshui) for this adrenalin and smoke-laced event.

In the meantime we hope there will be some good news about about the longer Yushan N.P. routes (Badasiou 八大秀, the Southern Stars 南橫三星, The Batongguan Trail 八通關越嶺, the Southern Second Section 南二段, the Mapo (Mapolass) Ridge Traverse 馬博橫斷), and all the other great stuff affected by Typhoon Morakot.

Please note: dates and other details listed here are liable to change for various reasons. I will try to keep things updated! These trips are of the standard hiking sort - each hiker carries, as well as his own, a proportion of the team's gear, portering not standard (can be arranged), some rough conditions and danger are to be expected. You should only attempt activities that you have the appropriate experience and ability to deal with.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Morakot, road and trail update.

Post Morakot update. 2nd September. [September 16 update]

Many roads continue to be opened up. Few are ready for casual visitors in regular (IE not 4-wheel drive/low wheelbase) vehicles, and sensitive to any bad weather. If you have no genuine reason to travel there, or are not confident in doing so - don't.

As well as conventional hikes in mountains further to the north, we are now doing trips via typhoon-affected areas in the south. Normality is a long way off yet, and precise itineraries are difficult to describe until close to departure.
We are not interested in activities in the disaster zone that interfere with official recovery work, and do not benefit the areas in some tangible, practical way. Simple - if we are not wanted/needed there we don't go.

However, if you have some special skill to offer that may be of use to these communities we are happy to help out with logistics - transport, translation etc.

Latest road conditions.

As mentioned in my previous post, do not venture into areas that are not officially opened (for simplicity's sake assume that includes all western mountain areas between Shueili in Nantou County and Pingdung). Doing so is dangerous and interferes with recovery efforts.

Southern Cross-Island Highway (Number 20).
Contrary to early fears it seems that the much-loved Southern Cross Highway may not share the fate of abandonment the Central Cross (Number 8) had after the 921 earthquake 10 years ago. It is extensively damaged, but it could be open again within one or two years. The roads department has a target of March next year. I wonder though what will actually happen when the enormous cost of all this becomes clear...
It is now possible to make it to Baolai via a rough alternative route. From Baolai to Taoyuan may be passable in days, Taoyuan to Meishan will be more difficult to reopen. The unpopulated section from Meishan onwards via Tienchr to the Yakao tunnel has been inspected from the air by the military and is not as badly damaged as feared but will not be a high priority initially. [September 16 update] The section between Jiasian and Baolai is now open to regular cars, expect very rough conditions and delays. Hopes that the the road will be opened as far as Taoyuan by late October. To Meishan and Yakao by March 2010...maybe.

From the east the highway is open to Lidao and perhaps as far as Siangyang. [September 16 update] The road is open past Lidao as far as kilometer mark 148, but closed at the Lidao tunnel between 6pm and 6am. The Roads Department hope to have access to Yakao within a week.

Alishan Highway (Number 18).
The priority at the moment is to get some form of contact to the various communities in the Alishan area (remember there is much more to Alishan than just the forest recreation area). It is expected the main highway will have to be rerouted in places. It seems access to the recreation area by off-road vehicle may be possible now, regular cars by mid to late September, but large coaches not for many, many months. [September 16 update] Regular cars can make it to Shihjhuo (km63). The damage at km mark 73 is causing problems, the alternative road around it is only suitable for 4-wheel drive vehicles. The roads department estimate Alishan Rec Area will be open to small buses along the main highway by the start of November. By January large tour buses may be allowed up - passengers being shuttled across the difficult sections by smaller vehicles.

[September 16 update] Highway 21 (turning in number 18) running north from Shueili, Nantou County may be open past Tataka by early October. Not sure about road conditions - expect the worst.
The forest railway will not be operating in any way for many months, major long-term changes are being planned.

[September 16 update] Most other Alishan roads have been opened up to some degree. Lots of diversions and atrocious conditions.

Highway 20 stops just north of Jiaxian at Hsiaolin. Very rough and roundabout access to Namasia is now possible from the west. See Lief's blog for the latest. [September 16 update]It is possible to travel as far as Siaolin by regular car if conditions (weather) is perfect.
Namasia can be accessed by two routes over the Alishan range. Both are long and only suitable for 4-wheel drive vehicles. Only genuine recovery vehicles welcome. The original route of highway 21 from Jiasian is not expected to be reopened for at least 3 years.

Wutai, Maolin, and Lioukuei.
Roads have been reopened to most in to all these areas. Expect many diversions, dangerous sections, and restrictions. [September 16 update] Highway 24 has been opened as far as the 45 km mark. Several sections require 4-wheel drive vehicles and may be closed due to falling rocks.
[September 16 update] The Southern Link rail line is now running again.

Hiking Trails.

Yushan (Jade Mountain) Main Peak
Access to the trailhead at Tataka (Tatajia) is still impossible. Permits will not be issued at least until after October and possibly not until January 2010. I expect the actual trail to be in reasonable condition. [September 16 update] Strong rumors that the main peak will be reopened mid-October.

Yushan - Longer trails.
Do not expect to get permission to hike routes (Bada shiou, Mapo, Southern Second, Batongguan Cross Island) that involve the Dungpu-Batongguan trail for at least 6 months or even years.

Jiaming Lake and Sinkang.
Access to the Siangyang trailhead from the west may be impossible for a year or two. Emergency vehicles can travel up from the east and I have hopes that in the next few monthsJiaming - and even Sinkang will be opened up for hiking, especially as the Walami trail (near Yuli, Hualian County, the eastern end of the Batongguan trail) is officially open as far as Walami Cabin now.

Guan/Kuan Mountain.
The trailhead for this mountain, the 'Southern Stars' nearby, and the Southern First Section is on the section of the Southern Cross Highway that will be repaired last. Will be closed the rest of this year and maybe much longer.

North Dawu
The road from Taiwu village to the trailhead has been severely damaged and is very unlikely to be repaired this year.

Southern Nantou trails/peaks.
The various trails and peaks with trailheads in southern Nantou should be considered impossible for the next few months. Little information is available about trail conditions and anyway road travel south of Shueili is restricted to emergency vehicles only.

Northern and central Mountains.
Most peaks and trails in northern and north-central Taiwan are back to as they were before Morakot.

Snow Mountain and around.
The main peak and most of the Wuling Farm based routes are open as before. The standard Daba (from the west) route is still closed due to slippage on the Dalu Forest Road. [September 16 update] Daba's traditional approach is now open (well not this week), the Dalu Forest Road must be hiked in from Guanwu.

Taroko Long Trails.
The high mountain and long trails in Taroko Park are open...well not really if you are a foreigner applying for permits, no change there! For details on the tourist trails in the gorge see their website.

Some thoughts:
Taiwan, being a democratic and free-speech minded society, is rightfully engaged in various lively debates on the decisions made before and after this typhoon: rural settlements, cultivation practices, water diversion projects, emergency responses, resettlement policy, restoration etc. It is important that all these issues be rationally analyzed and the correct long-term conclusions implemented effectively.

However, we must not forget the severe topography of the area and the scale of the rainfall experienced here last month - what came in one weekend exceeded that received by many places in several years.

For example Alishan received 2.7 meters (109 inches) over 3 days, Pingdung received 1.4 meters (55 inches) in 24 hours.

For comparison, some 'wet' places' average annual rainfall:

London - 0.6 meters.
Vancouver - 1.1 meters.
New York - 1.2 meters.
Melbourne -0.6 meters.
Dehli - 0.8 meters

Typhoons affect Taiwan every summer, and people are usually well prepared. Morakot was different.

For some educated analysis of landslides have a good look around David Petley's On The Slide blog.

Names, names, names...

Taiwan could do much better (don't normally say it as politely as that) when romanizing - that is, writing Chinese words using 'English' letters. Several places in the news these days have been causing confusion:

Cishan ( 旗山 ) also written as Chishan, Qishan. Mistakenly not marked at all on the otherwise very good tourist maps of Taiwan - it's where all the roads meet.
Jiaxian (甲仙) also sometimes written as Chiashien, Jia Sian, Jiasian. Usually refers to the town, famous for it's taro products, but also the name of the township that includes Hsiaolin Village.
Liukuei (六龜) also written Liukuai, Liouguei.
Taoyuan (桃源) this remote township/village in, Kaohsiung County, happens to have the same name as the city just south of Taipei.
Namasiya (那瑪夏) also written as Namasia, Namasyia, Namaxia. This area until last year went by the name of Sanming (Sanmin).
Hsiaolin (小林) also written as Hsiao Lin, Shiao Lin, Xiaolin, Siaolin.
The Cishan River is the lower section of the Nantze Sian River.

As you see I'm pretty confused/have given up on the correct spellings too...see Pinyinnews for a sensible perspective.

And for you students of Chinese:
搶通 refers to the emergency (often rough) opening of roads.
堰塞湖 barrier lakes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Morakot - and hiking.

Morakot aftermath.

Firstly, thanks to everyone that has contacted me recently gingerly enquiring after my welfare. I (and my various immediate friends) are alive and well but shocked by the devastation in the areas we know and love so well. The destruction from Morokot is truly breathtaking and will be with us for a long time. I'm confident though in the Taiwanese people's ability to overcome the various challenges ahead.

If you know me, you know I'm pretty cynical about various groups aims and methods - but not the ones below. I encourage you to donate - money, goods or time.

Tzu Chi Foundation
The Red Cross (Taiwan)
World Vision Taiwan

The best way to help in the long term is to visit these valleys and mountains, buy their produce, take an interest in their issues, and let others know how beautiful it is here (promotion was mediocre before, let's change things!). Start planning now how you will encourage and support these communities in 3 months and 3 years time, not just 3 days time.

For the time being the mountains (both high and lower down) in the south will be closed. This includes all of Yushan National Park. The key approach roads, 21, 20, 18, 16 near the park have been damaged to varying degrees. Do not attempt to enter without permission, as well as being very dangerous, the authorities (rightfully) will have no patience with those flouting the law.

Obviously our fall schedule will have to be extensively revised. Some key trails may not be open for many months, if not years.

I will formulate a new schedule of hikes soon, and will post updates relating to trails on this page as I become aware of them. Do not go near these places until sure they are safe and your presence is not impeding rescue/recovery work.

Latest conditions (mid August 2009) based on various reports and personal experience:

Yushan (Jade Mountain) Main Peak trail: The approaches to the trailhead via Chaiyi/Alishan and Nantou/Shueili will be closed for many weeks at least. The actual trail is probably in reasonable condition. Permits applications will not be processed until October at the earliest.

Southern Cross-Island Highway (number 20): Extensive damage, will be impassable for many months if not years.

Alishan: Approach roads 18 and 21 are badly damaged and will remain closed for several weeks to, when opened will only be suitable for 4WD vehicles. Alishan Forest Railway badly damaged, may be several months before operational.

Namasia (formerly Sanming): Extensive damage, may be open by land to emergency vehicles in the next few weeks.
Jiaxian (Jaihsien) town: Badly damaged, open for emergency vehicles
Maolin, Wutai, Liokuei, Baolai, Laonung, Meinung, Tenjihr, Sanping Yellow/Purple butterfly valleys etc: Extensive damage to infrastructure, some places may be open for emergency traffic within days/weeks.

Jiaming (Chaiming, Meteor) Lake: Approach to trailhead will be closed for months. Trail reported to be badly damaged.

All long trails in or near Yushan Park such as the Southern Section Two/One/Three, Batongguan Trail etc : Approach roads closed, trails likely to be damaged (probably extensivly on the Dungpu to Batongguan Meadow/Guangao section), may remain closed for months.

Snow Mountain: Closed for the moment. Access to Wuling and Guanwu possible, but Sheipa National Park are not issuing permits for any of the mountains at the moment. Popular trail conditions likely to be fine. Dalu Forest Road leading to Daba probably damaged.

Jinshui Camp Historic trail: Reported to be badly damaged. May not be repaired for many many months.

Other trails: Assume most high mountains trails are either inaccessible, closed, or access being discouraged unless hearing otherwise.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Yushan Packing List

This is the packing list for Barking Deer's standard hike of Yushan. For FAQs on this trip see the previous post Note, this list may NOT be appropriate for all other hikes.

These are the thing you should prepare: Tell us as soon as possible if there is anything you don't have, or are not sure about.

Light hiking pants (not cotton/never denim!)
Warm fleece pants - probably only in winter
Underwear/spare (ideally made for sports - not cotton)
Wide-brimmed hat
Warm hat
Warm gloves - optional, may be important in winter
Socks, 2 spare
Toilet paper - not tissue paper please
Headlight - fresh batteries
Inner layer breathable shirt (not cotton!)
2 fleece layers, one light, one heavy
Toothbrush - toothpaste
Rain jacket
Hiking boots - must be broken in and in good shape Remember most good shoes/boots are designed to disintegrate (for recycling purposes) after a couple years!
Personal medicine etc
Sleeping mat - if really needing extra softness at Paiyun.
Backpack - must have good hip belt
Backpack cover
Bags to waterproof spare clothing
Hiking poles - optional, but recommended.
Water bottles - 2 liters, don't have to fancy nalgene, just secure/reliable.
Cell phone optional, CH telecom best
Form of ID. Passport or ARC copy fine
Good/fun/positive attitude!

We will have these items - you probably don't need to duplicate:

First aid kit
Simple repair kit and other interesting things
Water-purifying gear
GPS device

These items we will prepare for you - no need for you to bring along:

Cooking gas
Snacks/Sports drink mix

Things you may want to bring:
Sandals to wear at camp
Shorts (not cotton)
Glasses (better than contact lenses)
Entertainment - reading material/mp3 player.
Camera-spare battery/memory card, dry bag
A small amount of your favorite snack. Remember we will provide snacks, best not to duplicate too much.

Things we don't usually bring but if you beg we will:

These things are not needed.

Anything heavy/breakable/large that is not necessary
Rock climbing gear

Tip: Do some research on Diamox (Acetazolamide) and decide whether it is suitable for you in preventing/alleviating altitude sickness. We find it very useful, but WILL NOT SUPPLY it (and struggling here not to technically endorse). There is a very small chance of an allergic reaction - must be tried out at home well before hiking, and is contradicted for some people. Many hikers use viagra for the same purpose, again research yourself.

Yushan FAQ

Yushan Standard FAQ'S

Note: this is an old post, some information is out of date. See more recent posts.

These are some of the most frequently asked questions I get asked relating to the standard (the most common - for 99% of people, to the main peak, from Tataka, staying at Paiyun Lodge) approach of Yushan (Jade Mountain) with Barking Deer Adventures.

Is this about the approach from Dungpu, from other parts of the park, staying at Yuanfong?
No, see above.

How can I sneak in?
This used to be both a feasible and condoneable option, but now is neither. It is difficult to do, and can rightfully get you into various kinds of trouble. Can't/won't help you.

What's this different permit stuff I hear? Class A?

To climb Yushan you need firstly a National Park permit and then a Police permit. For more info in this see

Is it easy to get these?

The National park one can be very difficult, the police one relatively easy (just some annoying paperwork).

Can you help me do all this?

Yes of course - well try, not guarantee.

Can you get me a permit for this weekend?

Can you get me a permit for next Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday?
Very unlikely.

How long in advance is it necessary to apply?

ideally 5 weeks.

How can we improve our chances of winning the lottery?
Choose mid-week days to hike. Avoid weekends and holidays - often less than 1 in 20 chance of getting the lottery.

I've heard there is an permit mid-week allotment for foreigners?

The allowance seems to have been canceled, still mid-week seems to be easier for foreign visitors.

Does getting a permit mean I have a guaranteed space in Paiyun Lodge?

Isn't all this permit stuff a pain in the rear?
Yes, not only for foreigners but for Taiwanese hikers. Improvements do happen though, it's moving in the right direction.

Can I get a National Park permit at the trailhead?

No. You can get a 'Police' (入山 ru-shan) permit there, but first you must have your hands on the 'National Park' (入園 ru-yuan) one.

Why can't I bring my own tent and just find a spot to put it up instead of staying at Paiyun Lodge?
This the most controlled trail in Taiwan, permits are only issued based upon staying in Paiyun
Lodge or one of their tents outside. Any unauthorized camping will be noticed and stopped. If you just want to go camping consider other destinations. Same for campfires - won't happen on this route.

If we don't get the permit for Yushan what do you suggest?

Consider Snow Mountain, Taiwan's second highest, or any of the hundreds of other peaks in Formosa.

Yushan doesn't sound right for me, I'm too unfit to hike more than a couple minutes from my car, where can I experience high peaks?Drive across the cross-island highways and hike ponder the views at Taroko, Hehuan and Yakao

Where do you suggest I hike around Taipei?
I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to the excellent trails near Taipei. Look out for Richard Saunder's 'Taipei Day Hikes' books, or read Robert Kelly's blog
What do I need to bring?Here is the list.

What training should I do for Yushan?
Any good aerobic exercise seems to do the trick. The best thing is to do some actual hiking - ideally in your hiking gear...on hills. Imagine!

Must I watch the 'safety' video at the Tataka checkpoint?

Yes, unless you can prove you have watched it online (in Chinese) at
Will the trail be crowded? Will we be stuck in a line of people like Mount Fuji?

No. At very most (often less) there will about 100 people going up the 10km trail on any one day. Most are in groups of 10-20 and rarely hold you up more than a couple seconds. Most foreign hikers feel there are not many people encountered.

What about the other parts of the national park (not on this trip)?
It is very common to walk several days in pristine wilderness without meeting anyone else.

How long does it take to hike it?
First day, 4-6 hours to Paiyun for most people. Second day 2-3 hours to the summit, 1-2 down to Paiyun, and 2-3 hours back to the trailhead.

Are there any wild animals to worry about?

What about the Formosan Black Bear?
I spotted one once on this trail a long time ago, it was mid-week and I was alone. It is very unlikely you will encounter one. They are much more afraid of humans than we of them - NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT! To have a better chance of seeing them (or signs of them) it is better to arrange a hike into the remote bear reserve at Dafen.

Other animals?
Looking down into the valleys you may spot Sanbar deer. In the evening, especially lower down you may hear the distinctive call (bark) of the small Barking Deer (Muntiacus reevesi)
. Around Paiyun it is not uncommon to encounter Chinese Weasels, and the Yellow-throated marten. At the West Peak pavilion, the popular lunch spot, there are several squirrels (and sometimes monkeys) roaming - do not feed them. The Taiwan (Yushan) Laughing Thrush is not shy and can be encountered up close in many places. Also look out for the Vinaceous Rosefinch and Alpine Accentor. Snakes very very rare at this altitude - never seen one.

Crime issues?
Very safe, can't honestly think of anything to worry about.

Can we reserve certain spaces in Paiyun Cabin?
The bunk spaces have been allotted randomly by computer when the permit was issued. The warden on duty may use his discretion and put you in a better location. Be polite, but don't expect special treatment. Keep in mind, for many people arriving at Paiyun this is the toughest/coldest/hottest/most emotional/tedious thing they've ever done. The wardens and guides struggle magnificently keeping everyone happy at such close quarters.

What is the wooden cabin on the western side of the main Paiyun Cabin? Can we stay there?

It is an emergency medical center. No one stays there, though there are rumors about converting it into general accommodation.

What is Paiyun Lodge like?
Could be better...will be posting a detailed description here on the blog soon.

Isn't Paiyun Lodge a bit substandard?
Depends on how you look at it. It works OK at the moment but the park is aware it does not come up to most people's expectations. There are plans to have it completely re-built in the next 2 years.

Are the cabins deeper in the park the same?

No. The new A-frame cabins in the remoter parts of the park are in many ways more modern - and usually completely empty.

How many times have you hiked Yushan?

Not sure exactly. Around 30 times.

Does it get boring?
Er, no. Confucius said...

What's your favorite trail/mountain in Taiwan?

Anything that involves Dafen.

Are their any shortcuts?
This is the shortest route.

Should I be worried about altitude?
Staying a night (as we do) at Tataka helps you adjust. Also research Diamox.

What if I am too exhausted/ill on the trail?

You will never be forced up the trail. We have plans in place to deal with most scenarios other than alien invasion.

Can you arrange oxygen?Very unlikely you will need it. Paiyun has some for emergencies.

Can I hire a porter?

With our standard package you will not be carrying much - personal gear, some snacks. Porters usually cost between $3-4000NT per day. If you really think you need help, discuss with me what needs arranged.

Can I drive myself to the trailhead?
Yes. Are you sure how to get there? Are you sure you will be fit to drive home?

What is the best time to hike Yushan?
You can hike it all year round but fall (autumn) and spring are best. Summer can be wet or permits can be canceled at the last minute due to typhoons. Winter can be good too - less people sometimes, but the park closes the main peak if too icy or snowy, and for a month around Chinese New Year.

Can I bring my dog?
No. This is an environmentally sensitive area, the wardens will never allow your hound up.

This contradicts information I read elsewhere, who is right?

Probably me. There is a lot of nonsense written about hiking Yushan. If I say so myself, this is the most accurate and up to date. Email me if you think I'm wrong.

Can you supply more details about the trail?
If you're not in contact with me already, email me at

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hiking Glossary

How easy is it to hike without speaking Chinese?

All Taiwanese study English in school but the results are mixed, the further from Taipei you go the worse it seems to get. While some will be eager to try out their English and be fairly fluent, many others will be shy and will struggle with even the simplest phrases. If encountering problems communicating, speak clearly (in normal sentences), or try writing things down. Some people also speak some Japanese.

Considering how few foreigners come here to actually make use of them, there is an admirable level of effort put into providing facilities that have some version of English translation. Most road signs and trail markers are written in both Chinese and English. Unfortunately quality topographical hiking maps are only available in Chinese, we can on a case-to-case basis provide maps annotated with English. Email

Romanization - the use of 'English' letters to represent Chinese words, is an embarrassing mess in Taiwan. Do not be surprised to see multiple spellings of the same place. One of the most notorious examples being Shei Shan/Xue Shan/Syue Shan/Hsieh Shan/HsuehShan (Snow Mountain). Taiwan's government is slowly and haphazardly adopting the internationally-recognized Hanyu system.

Taiwanese are pleased to hear visitors trying (even if with little success) to speak Chinese. Here I list some phrases and terms that may be useful when hiking in Taiwan. Some are for anyone to try anytime, some are for problem situations, and some may only be of interest to students of Chinese. Please remember some of these terms may not translate directly with the same connotion or emphasis, or may be used differently in English/Chinese. Also included are a couple examples of inaccurate or misleading items sometimes written on signs.

Hiking Glossary

Chinese, pinyin, Meaning, other comments

Try these phrases out on the trail. Some you are likely to hear quite often.

加 油 jiāyóu Add oil. This is a friendly phrase of encouragement. It literally means 'add oil', and is a greeting sometimes translated as 'Go! Go!'.

早安 zǎoān or just 早 zǎo Good morning.

謝謝 xièxie Thank-you. There is no reason to leave good manners behind at home.

你先過 nǐ xiān guò You (come/go) pass by first. When passing on the trail.

介過 jiè guò Excuse me. - if asking to get by someone one the trail.

小心 xiǎoxīn Careful!

慢走 mànzǒu Literally 'slow walk', a polite farewell greeting.

快到了 kuài dào le You'll be there soon!

好重/好輕 hǎo chóng/hǎo qīng - Very heavy/Very light!

辛苦了 xīn kǔ le So hard! Used to encourage people.

走吧 zǒu ba Let's walk/go! you may often also hear the more glutteral Taiwanese 'gya!'.

Oo-ni-nan Is 'thank-you' or 'Hello' in the Bunung language (The tribe most high-mountain porters and many national park people belong to). Few non-Bunun will know this phrase, and using it (with Bunun) will be appreciated.

Common geographical and mountain related nouns.
Natural and man-made.

shān Mountain - as in Yushan - Jade Mountain.

水 shuǐ Water. Learn to recognize this one!

河/溪 hé /xī River/Stream. Often streams are described as rivers, and vice versa.

百岳 bǎi yuè Refers to the Top 100 mountains in Taiwan. It is common to ask accomplished hikers how many of the Bai-yue they have climbed.

嶺線 lǐng xiàn Ridge line. Also 稜線 is sometimes used.

水源 shuǐyuán Water source

鞍部 ānbù Coll/saddle. A low point on a ridge. Sometimes you will see colls described as "Anbu" on signs.

主峰 zhǔ fēng Main peak.

山頭 shāntóu, 山頂 shāndǐng Summit, or top of a hill/mountain. Or 最高點 zuìgāodiǎn Higest point.

避風處 bìfēngchù Sheltered (from the wind) location.

峭壁 qiàobì Cliff.

崩壁 bēng bì Collapsed cliff (usually loose).

亂石崩壁 luànshí bēng bì Loose rock/scree cliff - sometimes not avoidable in Taiwan.

滴水 dīshuǐ Dripping water (a cabin roof, a water source etc).

dwan ai - 'broken ridge' a cliff, a path over a very steep slope

河床 héchuáng River/stream bed.

活水源 huó shuǐyuán Flowing water source, literally 'living water'.

黑水池 hēishuǐ chí Literally 'Black water pond', small ponds, often shared with animals - an inferior water source. Also 看天池 kàn tiān chí something similar, without so many negative conatations.

山脈 shānmài Mountain Range as in 中央山脈 zhōngyāng shānmài - the Central Mountain Range.

峽谷 xiágǔ Valley.

瘦嶺 shòulǐng Narrow ridge. Also 瘦稜.

圍谷 wéi gǔ Glacial Cirque or combe.

溝 shāngōu Gully or ravine.

湖/池 hú /chí Lake or pond, see also 潭/塘/溏 tán /táng /táng refering to, usually, smaller ponds.

森林 sēnlín Forest.

叢林 cónglín Jungle.

洞 shāndòng Cave.

水庫 shuǐkù Reseviour.

瀑布 pùbù Waterfall.

展望點 zhǎnwàng diǎn Viewpoint.

溪溝 xī gōu Stream gully.

下游 xiàyóu Downstream.

溫泉 wēnquán Hotspring.

溪流域 xīliú yù Stream/river catchment area.

塌方/坍塌 tāfāng/tāntā Landslide.

崩塌 bēngtā To collapse.

沿途 yántú Along the way.

高山 gāoshān High Mountains.

溪畔 xī pàn, 溪邊 xī pàn Stream bank.

合流 héliú Convergence (of rivers etc).

石頭 shítou Stone.

大草原/平原 dàcǎoyuán /píngyuán Alpine meadow, or sometimes a flatish area described as 'field'

橫斷 héngduàn Cross-sectional Ridge.

假山頭 jiǎshān tóu False summit.

群峰 qún fēng A group of summits or peaks.

白木林 Bái Mùlín White forest, a term describing an area damaged by fire, where the resulting dead trees have been weathered white or silver.

連峰 Lián Fēng Connected peaks.

黑森林 hēi sēnlín Black Forest, a term for mature forests with a thick canopy - darkening the forest floor.

天池 tiān chí Heaven lake, many high-elevation lakes are named this. Often have become places of pilgrimage.

坑 kēng A hole or some kind of depression, often used in names of places.

Copyright Barking Deer Adventures. For permission to copy

And of a more human connection.

直升機停機坪 zhíshēngjī tíngjīpíng Helipad "apron".

山徑 shān jìng Mountain trail or 路徑.

林道 Lín Dào Forest road or logging road, these trails are, or at one time were, usable by 4-wheeled vehicles. Many abandoned now.

登山口 dēngshān kǒu Trail head, also often translated on signs as
, 'hiking entrance' or 'climbing mouth/gate'.

階梯 jiētī Ladder also sometime steep steps.

露營地 lòuyíngdi or just 營地 yíngdi Campsite

空地 kōng dì Empty space/land.

山屋 shān wū Mountain Shelter. Note: the words 'shelter, hut, lodge, cottage, cabin and villa' are used interchangeably on signs/maps, in reference to various kinds of structure - from the most basic to palatial.

山莊 shān zhuāng Lodge (as in Paiyun Lodge) or cabin, sometimes translated as 'mountain village'! Usually similar to the term above, but also used in reference to hostels, and various other places to rest your head.

工寮 gōng liáo Work station, usually refers to a very simple cabin or hut.

鐵皮屋 tiěpí wū Tin/metal-roofed cabin.

獵寮 liè liáo Hunters' shelter.

涼亭 liángtíng Pagoda or pavilion, sometimes translated as 'shed'.

駐在所 zhù zài suǒ A station, often refering to the remains of colonial-era Japanese police stations.

三角點 sānjiǎo diǎn Triangulation point the best being 一等 yī děng first class.

Forest summit

木樁 mù zhuāng Wooden marker posts.

古道 gǔ dào Historic road or trail.

交界 jiāojiè Common border or boundary between two places such as counties.

繞路 ràolù Detour or to detour.

岔路 chà lù Intersection.

痕跡 hénjì Mark or trace as in Leave No Trace.

遺址 yízhǐ The remains of something such as a building.

中途 zhōngtú On the way (location).

橋樑 Bridge or just 橋 qiáo.

吊橋 diàoqiáo Suspension bridge.

木棧 mù zhàn Wooden bridge.

棧橋 zhàn qiáo 'ferry bridge' or gangplank.

防火道 fánghuǒ dào firebreak.

路跡 lù jì track often faint.

捷徑 jiéjìng Shortcut.

水塔 shuǐ tǎ Water tank.

隧道 suìdào Tunnel.

水壩 shuǐbà Dam.

開墾地 kāikěn dì Area cleared for cultivation.

果園 guǒyuán Orchard.

廚房 chúfáng Kitchen.

廁所 cèsuǒ Toilet, WC, bathroom.

浴室 yùshì Shower Room, bathroom.

標誌 biāo jǐn * A sign, marker, indicator, also 指標 zhǐbiāo.

座 zuò The measure word for mountain and bridges.

三岔路口 sān chà lùkǒu A three way intersection.

終點 zhōngdiǎn End point.

Off the mountain:

民宿 mín sù Guest house, or B&B.

救國團 jiù guó tuán The China Youth Corps, run most of the hostels.

飯店/賓館 fàndiàn/bbbbguǎn Hotel.

通鋪 tōng pū Dorm bed or dorm room.

遊客中心 遊kè zhōngxīn Visitor center.

加油站 jiāyóuzhàn Gas station.


國家公園 guójiā gōngyuán National Park.

林務局 Lín Wùjú The Forestry Department.

警察局 jǐngchájú Police Station, also 派出所 pàichūsuǒ for sub-stations.

村莊/城市 cūnzhuāng /chéngshì Village/town.

停車場 tíngchēchǎng Car park.

高速公路 gāosùgōnglù Freeway.

公路 gōnglù Public road or highway.

遊憩區 Recreation Area.

保護區 bǎohùqū Protected area.


管理員 guǎnlǐyuán Warden or caretaker.

挑夫 tiāofū Porter also sometimes the term 山青 shān qīng.

警察 jǐngchá Police.

登山客 dēngshān kè Hiker/trekker.

領隊 lǐngduì Leader (as in team leader).

原住民 yuánzhùmín Aboridigine/indigeneous person.

隊伍 duìwǔ Team or (hiking) group.

遊客 Visitor/traveler.

嚮導 Guide.

隊員 duìyuán Team member.

研究調查人員 yánjiū diàochárényuán Researcher.

搜救隊伍 sōujiù duìwǔ Search and rescue team.

農夫 nóngfū Farmer.

替代役 tìdài yì Alternative (Military) Service Officer. These are young men doing their compulsory service with the National Parks or Forestry Department instead of the army etc. Have found them to be quite helpful.

山友 shān yǒu 'Mountain friends' usually referring to people that like to visit the mountains.

病患 bìnghuàn Patient.

留守人 liú shǒu rén The person left behind at home, holding the fort to alert authorities of any emergency - or the authorities to alert. Next of kin.

支援 zhīyuán Support.

Hundreds more phrases and words coming soon...working on the details...trying not to go mad...ask me if you want to copy this...

Mountain Permit Forms

Taiwan Mountain Permit Forms

I've uploaded some of the most useful forms required by the police when applying for Mountain Permits. Clicking on the links brings you to the Scribd site (don't worry if the they look garbled here) click on 'download' - choose 'Word' - their original format rather than pdf. Tell me if you are having problems with the Chinese fonts, I may be able to provide a jpg image file to print instead.

Please note: these are the forms used when applying for Mountain permits (入山 ru-shan) NOT National Park permits (which must be obtained beforehand if planning to hike on the national park trails), see my previous effort to explain all this at Each of these documents has a simple itinerary (add dates, adjust as necessary); the required comments regarding equipment, behavior, the environment; and a simple route map. Don't worry too much about the details - the main thing is the police officers see a familiar piece of paper when dealing with the scary foreign face. You, of course, would not be depending on these maps would you?

At most trailheads you will need to have ready 3 (4 if arriving at a National Park+ the Nat Park Permit) documents : 1. application form, 2. name list (any clear list usually works, not needed if you are alone) and 3. these forms below. Some forms I have translated less - for those trails that should only be led by a Chinese speaker/reader, or details that are more than obvious.

1.The Application Form.

2. Name List.

3. The 'other information' form.

Jiaming Lake

Yushan Southern Sub-peaks

Yushan single-day ascent, note this option has not been generally available since June 2010

Yushan 5-day Peakbagging

Yushan peakbagging excluding south peaks

Yushan + North peak

Taoshan + Kahlahei

Taoshan 2-day

Wuling Quadruple

Yushan + traverse via Batongguan

Southern Cross '3 stars'

Snow Holy Ridge

Snow Standard 2-day

Snow Standard or to Cichr

Snow Dashaiuo Jian

This is too tedious to finish right now - will add more/tidy up soon

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jiaming Lake DIY

April 2010 Note: this route remains closed for the time being due to the devastation caused by Typhoon Morakot in August 2009. We will report any changes on this blog.

Jiaming Meteor Lake,
(嘉明湖 aka Jai-ming-hu, Chiaming Lake, Angel's Tear 天使的眼淚)

Highlights: Jiaming Meteor Lake, 2 of the 'top 100' peaks; Siangyang (向陽山) 3,602m, Sancha (三叉山)3,496m.
Time required: Ideally 3 days, possible in 2.
Relevant Map: Sun River's (上河)
TM 19 or the Forestry Bureau's Jiaming map.
YDS Rating: Virtually all maintained Class 1 with small sections of Class 2
Our difficulty rating: 2-3 stars.
Permits required: Police permit only.
Additional updates and support:
Trail starts: Siangyang (Hsiangyang) Forest Recreation Area, 2,300m elevation, 154 km mark Southern Cross Highway
Trail ends: At starting point.

This is a popular (avoid weekends) hike for good reasons. This elliptical lake (120 meters long, 80 meters wide and 10 meters deep) is in the crater formed some 4–10 thousand years ago by a meteor strike, making it possibly the youngest meteor lake on Earth - even more remarkable as only about 100 meteor pits have been found around the world, and this one is on such a young island. Located high (3,310m) in the mountains near where Kaohsiung and Hualien counties meet (yes, they do meet, not many people realize that) and on the edge of Yushan National Park. The trail is generally easy to hike and is well signposted all the way.

This is also the the initial part of the longer Sinkang Mountain and Southern Second Section hikes. Siangyang Recreation Area, very often shrouded in thick mist, consists only of a police station and visitor center. Ask at the checkpoint for information in English for the wide well-maintained trails running
through the forest of Taiwan Pine and Cypress behind the visitor center - suitable for everyone (no permits required). Much of this area is within the Guanshan Major Wildlife Habitat.

Day 1:Siangyang Trailhead (
向陽山登山口) to Jiaming Lake Cabin (嘉明湖避難山屋). 5+ hours.

If you wish, it is possible to spend an easier first day hiking the 4.5 km/2 hours to the excellent Siangyang Cabin (向陽工寮). Additionally, your second day could be focused on getting to, and camping by, the actual lake - skipping the now less-than-salubrious Jiaming Cabin.

We start at Siangyang (Hsiangyang, Xiangyang) Forest Recreation Area, 2,300m, 154 km mark Southern Cross Highway (Number 20). 9 kilometers east of Yakou Tunnel. After dealing with any permit issues at the police station (also possible to apply for the police permit at Meishan) and passing the small checkpoint, hike 300 meters up the surfaced road to the visitor center. Right behind the center follow the signs for the Songtao (松濤) Trail and the lake. The way by the Songyang (松陽) trail is a little shorter but steeper and more tiring. At the 1.5 km point on the forest path there is an excellent spot to view the nearby peaks including two of the Southern Stars. Pass a pavilion and hiking another couple kilometers you come to the trailhead proper with the sign for 'Jaiming Lake 10.9km'. It's about 90 minutes from the checkpoint to here.

An hour's hiking through a forest of hemlock will bring you to the large and well built Siangyang Cabin. Both this shelter and the Jaiming Lake one cannot be officially reserved, at popular times (such as weekends) hiking groups will send people ahead to block up spaces. The water supply here is reliable and in the dry season it may be necessary to carry water for the section from here to the next shelter - ask hikers coming down or look out for the sign sometimes placed on the trail reminding you.

From here it is another 3.9 km to the Jiaming Lake shelter. Hemlock and dwarf bamboo will start to appear mixed in with Taiwan pine. A mediocre campsite just before the ridge - can be damp in rainy weather. Erosion means this section of trail is somewhat unclear. After making it to the ridge N23 16 16 E120 59 14, 3280m, and a space for a couple tents, turn left (N NW). Views are expansive and the path meanders through trimmed (short) dwarf bamboo, and small groves of rhododendron, juniper and Formosan Rose. On the west side of the small, but prominent and signposted juniper, are a couple excellent camping spaces. Avoid getting too close to this famous tree, the many people that have posed next to it have caused damage to its roots.

It is your choice if you want to peer down at Yakou Hostel over the rim of an enormous landslide around the 6 km mark. Some cell phone coverage around here. Between the 5 and 6 km mark there are various spots to camp, some good, some bad. Remember at the place marked 1.4km from Jaiming Shelter do NOT take the trails leading westwards (left). Around the 6.5km mark there is an intersection (
3,500 m), packs may be left here for a climb of Siangyang peak (向陽山, 3,602m). The Shrdong Campsite (石洞營地) that appears on various maps and documents, are only a couple bad spots to camp before the cabin.

Note: the Jiaming Lake shelter,
3,350 meters, is still a long way from the actual lake. Recently the cabin has an overused feel to it, and is more functional than romantic. Camping near the cabin is far from ideal, if using a tent consider your options some distance either to the north or south. Water supply is from roof runoff and a small hillside spring nearby is adequate except in winter when it freezes up. Be prepared to haul water from either the lake or Siangyang Cabin. Reportedly there is a water source a 30 minute hike down the hill from the cabin, route unclear. Again, try to confirm in advance the recent water situation here.

Just north of Jiaming Cabin is another, more difficult, path to the summit of Siangyang that passes through tall dwarf bamboo and rocks.

Day 2: Jiaming Cabin (嘉明湖避難山屋), via Siangyang North peak, and Sancha Mountain (三叉山) to Jiaming Lake (嘉明湖) and back to Jaiming Lake shelter. 6 hours.

North from the Cabin there will be signs indicating distances to Sancha (Sanchao)
Mountain - about 4 Kilometers ahead. The trail is fairly pleasant as it weaves around many of the peaks along the ridge line. On the north side of the ridge there may be cell-phone coverage. 1 kilometer from the lake the trail splits, N 23° 17 39, E 121 01 22 , left for Sancha summit, right for the lake. Is is also quite possible to come straight down from the Sancha's spacious summit to the lake - all well signposted. Sancha Mountain means 'intersection mountain' as this is where, three major routes meet - north (Southern Second Section), south (this trail, and Southern First Section) and east (to Sinkang Mountain).

700 meters further along where the four trails meet again, N23 17 46 E 121 01 56, near a helipad, is called Sancha-sha camping area. Good flat areas but lots of exposure to the elements. From here the lake is visible 300 meters ahead. If more adventurous (and have the pertinent national permits sorted out) this is where to set of northwards for the week-long Southern Second Section and Sinkang routes.

Top tip: Don't bring on a heart attack by jumping into the icy water while still hot and sweaty. If you decide to camp next to the lake be aware there is little shelter from the wind and sun rays reflected of the water surface. If possible use the slightly sheltered area, away from the lake, on the eastern side. Be responsible, ensure with you choice of toilet - go over the watershed. High chance of Sanbar deer coming by in the evening.

Day 3: Jiaming Cabin to the trailhead by the same same route.


This new 6-day hike, sometimes known as the Northern Third Section ( 北三段), will be led by me (Richard) and a highly experienced local guide.

This central part of the main spine of Taiwan is famous for its lakes, 'alpine meadows', and sanbar deer. Hikers must have experience of multiple-day hiking and be in above average shape. Day 5 and 6 involve river crossings. Porter support will be available. Five of the 3000+ meter 'Top 100' peaks (百岳) are on this route: Nenggao (能高山), Nenggao South (能高南峰), Guangtou (Bald, 光頭山) Baishr (白石山), Andongjyun (安東軍山) with the possibility of Cilai South (奇萊南峰) and Nanhua (南華山) being squeezed in on day 1. After day 1 it is very possible we will not encounter any other hikers.

The first day's hiking with heavy loads is on the wide and well-maintained Nenggao trail to Tienchr Cabin located near the main spine. About 6 hours hiking.

Day 2-5 follows a simple trail through dwarf bamboo southwards along the central range.

Day 2 over Nenggao Peak camping next to the small 'Taiwan Pond' - guess it's shape... About 6 hours hiking.

Day 3: This is the longest day involving up to 11 hours hiking. Camping next to Baishr Lake.

Day 4: An easy 4 hours over Baishr Mountain brings us to the campsite at Tunlu Lake.

Day 5: Up to 8 hours if choosing to summit Andungjyun Mountain, dropping down and camping next to Aowanda stream.

Day 6: 8 hours hiking along the Aowanda River and exit at Aowanda National Forest Reserve and return home!

Monday, June 1, 2009

'Typical' Yushan

Excuse the random positioning of photos for the time being - review of a typical (really no such thing) Yushan ascent. Let's start with the main target - the summit.
Conditions on top vary immensely, from hot, sunny to bitterly cold cloud.
In most places the trail is smooth and flat.

Most people stop for a minute or two at this cliff that shows signs of once being part of a seabed.

Numerous bridges traverse steep areas.

This short eroded section very near the start is the most difficult 30 seconds on Day 1. If can deal with this, you will have no problems elsewhere.

The final exposed approach to the summit. There are always chains to hold onto if desired.

Eating outside at Paiyun Lodge.

Porter-cooked food is usually excellent. Vegetarian options are available.

If you are lucky the kitchen becomes an underground entertainment center.

How it should be - usually is.

The caged section 20 minutes from the summit provides protection from any falling rocks.

It is, of course, required to pause for a photo at the trailhead.

The last hour before the summit, less oxygen, fewer trees.

It's really not as scary as it looks.

When you get to the top go wild with your camera. Many people don't, and regret it later.

The scenery is always changing along the way as you enter and leave various forest types.

The most popular lunch spot - the West Peak/White Forest Pavilion. It's sheltered, and usually has excellent views of the southern ridge peaks. Eco-toilets nearby.

The hostel at Tataka, near the trailhead, is simple but functional and clean.

Fall 2009 - Spring 2010 Hike Schedule.

These are the scheduled, guided hikes for the next few months. For information on customized trips, or advice on doing things by yourself, contact me at

These trips involve summiting half of Taiwan's 'top 100' peaks, and traversing most of the best-known high routes in the South including two thirds of the main Central Mountain Range spine.


Daba Jian (大霸尖山) from the North ridge.
2nd evening - 6th evening.
This is the 4-day approach from Hsinchu County to the famous barrel-shaped mountain.

Yushan (玉山, Jade Mountain).
8th evening - 10th evening. Note, permits must be applied for before August 5th.
The standard approach to the main summit. Excellent food, sleeping bags provided at Paiyun cabin.

Badasiou (八大秀) +Yushan main peak.
12th evening - 17th.
5 days along the western section of the Batongguan trail to the spine and back - includes summiting of Shiouguran Mountain (秀姑巒山), the highest peak in the central range, and a side-trip to Yushan's Main Peak.

Nengao Trail and Cilai South (能高奇萊南峰).
18th evening - 20th evening.
Fantastic historic trail to the spine of Taiwan.

Snow Mountain (雪山, Syueshan, and many other names...)
22nd to 24th evening
The standard approach to Taiwan's second highest peak. May consider Wuling Quadruple peaks 武陵四秀

Jiaming Meteor Lake (嘉明湖)
25th evening - 28th (Teachers' day) evening.


Chitsai Lake and Hioushun Mountain (七彩湖六順山).
1st - 5th. Long mid-autumn festival weekend.
Hike to the spine of Taiwan from Hualian County.

Yushan (玉山, Jade Mountain).
6th evening - 8th evening. Note, permits must be applied for before September 2nd.
The standard approach to the main summit. Excellent food, sleeping bags provided at Paiyun cabin.

The Southern Stars (南橫三星).
9th evening - 11th evening.
The peaks of the Southern Cross-island highway. May do Guan Shan (關山, Kuan Shan) if requested.


Beidawu (北大武山, North Dawu)
2nd morning - 3rd evening.
The most southerly of Taiwan's 'top 100' peaks.

Nenggao-Antongjyun Traverse (能高安東軍縱走)
4th evening 10th evening.
Up the Nenggao Trail, south along the spine, and exiting at Aowanda. See for more detail.

Snow Holy Ridge (聖稜線)
11th night - 15th night.
The circular 'O' route. Fast, tough, not for those with vertigo.

Badasiou (八大秀)
19th evening - 23rd night.
Up the western section of the Batongguan trail to the spine and back - includes summiting of Shiouguran Mountain (秀姑巒山), the highest peak in the central range, and a possible extra day (to be decided) side-trip to Yushan's Main Peak.

Private trip.
25th - 29th


Danda Cross-Island/Southern Third Section (丹大橫斷/南三段)
November 30th - December 10th.
One of the longest cross-island routes - tough.

Baolai Hot-spring river trace.
11th evening -13th night.

Yushan (玉山, Jade Mountain).
14th evening - 16th evening. Note, permits must be applied for before November 11th.
The standard approach to the main summit. Excellent food, sleeping bags provided at Paiyun cabin.

The Batongguan Trail (八通關越嶺).
17th evening - 24th.
Our favorite destination!The entire historic cross-island trail from the west, across the main spine, via the Formosan Bear research station at Dafen, exiting by Walami. See Robert Kelly's blog for an excellent write-up.
Dafen Bear Reserve and hot springs.
3 days hiking in to the Bear Reserve Station on the stunning Walami (eastern end of the Batongguan) trail. Spend 2 days at Dafen exploring the nearby hot-spring and Japanese-era ruins, exit over 2 days.

Dawu Ghost Lakes
December 28th - January 2nd.
The last possible home of the Clouded Leopard.

2010 January.

Yushan (玉山, Jade Mountain).
3rd evening - 5th evening. Note, permits must be applied for before November 30th.
The standard approach to the main summit. Excellent food, sleeping bags provided at Paiyun cabin.

Southern Second Section (南二段), exiting via Yushan Main Peak .
6th evening - 13th night.
Follow the spine of Taiwan through Yushan National Park, from Jiaming Lake to the Main Peak.

Beidawu (北大武山 North Dawu)
16th morning - 17th evening.
The most southerly of Taiwan's 'top 100' peaks.

Sinkang Ridge (新康)
18th - 25th
From the Jiaming Lake, over Sinkang, exiting via the Walami trail.

Yushan (玉山, Jade Mountain).
27th evening - 29th evening. Note, permits must be applied for before December 25th. Main summit likely to be closed for the month of February.
The standard approach to the main summit. Excellent food, sleeping bags provided at Paiyun cabin.

Sinwangling Mountain or the Jinshuiing Trail (浸水營 Jinshui Camp).
30th morning - 31st evening.
Either the not-very-famous forested peak in the Sanming/Namaysia Valley of Kaohsiung County. Or the lush Japanese-era trail between Taidung and Pingdung. Will confirm later.


Snow Mountain via Sikayo (Jhihjiayan) Mountain (志佳陽雪山)
1st evening - 4th night.
The original approach to the mountain. Descend via the East Peak.
Snow Mountain North Peak and Cuichr Pond, checking out the dragon's spine and glacial cirques (combes) of the area.

Baigu Mountain (白姑大山).
5th evening - 8th evening.
The rarely rarely climbed, south of the Snow Range, made more inaccessible by the 921 earthquake.

The Mapo (Mapolass) Ridge Traverse (馬博橫斷)
12th - 19th.
High and challengeing. Away from the New Year noise and boredom.

Jiaming Meteor Lake (嘉明湖)
22th evening - 25 evening.

Siluan Dashan (西巒大山)
26th evening - 28th evening.


Yanshui Fireworks (鹽水蜂炮)
Not our usual sort of trip. We will spend the main night of the festival in Yanshui (Yenshui) for this adrenalin and smoke-laced event.
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Some other hikes that we really hope can be scheduled in closer to the time, but depend on typhoons, snow, and various other - more human - factors:

Cilai East Ridge (奇萊東稜). The epic 6-day from Hehuan right down into Taroko Gorge.
Snow West Ridge (雪山西稜). The, still technically/terminally closed, 7-day route exiting at Dasyueshan.
Nanhu Dashan (南湖大山). The 3-day wintery Northeastern beauty...and other peaks in the area.
Southern First Section (南一段). The 6-day ridge, lacking in water, south of Yushan Nat. Park
Jyunda (郡大). 2 days for views of the best peaks in the center of Taiwan.
Gandzwowan (干卓萬).The approach from Aowanda.

Please note: Dates and other details listed here are liable to change for various reasons. Will try to keep things updated! These trips are of the standard hiking sort - each hiker carries a proportion of the team's gear, portering not standard, some rough conditions and danger to be expected. You should only attempt activities that you have the appropriate experience and ability to deal with. Much better to spend 5 days doing a 3-day hike and then some relaxing, than giving yourself 5 days of torture.