Tuesday, June 23, 2009

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Note: this is an old post, some information is out of date.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 http://barkingdeernews.blogspot.com/2008/09/mountain-permits-facts-and-opinions.html

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 http://hikingintaiwan.blogspot.com/
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 http://www.ysnp.gov.tw/
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 barkingdeerinfo@gmail.com.