Anyone living in Taiwan (or more generally, the northern hemisphere) may have noticed the colder than usual weather of recent weeks. Many of Taiwan's high mountain routes are snow-covered and quite icy - boom times for snow-chain dealers and hot-pot restaurants. Sadly several hikers have died from exposure and falls in the last few weeks - including a guide on Yushan last week. With this in mind, Yushan national park has now closed the main peak for the season, the next possible main peak ascents will only be possible (pending reasonable conditions) from March. We hope to have dates ready soon.
Construction of overdue new facilities at Paiyun Cabin (排雲山莊) is expected to be started in the middle of this year and be finished before 2011 (we shall see!). Preliminary plans include a 2-level building, accommodation for 160 people (no camping) in 4-8 person rooms, a drying room, and centralized cooking and dining facilities. Proper wastewater treatment and use of solar panels etc can be expected. This is in response to demands from Taiwanese (and foreign) hikers to increase the number of people allowed to climb Yushan - currently around 90 per day, and to improve the currently mediocre experience at Paiyun. Many have compared the currently modest Paiyun Lodge to the facilities available when climbing Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia. The cost is expected to be around NT$40 million (about US$1.25 million).
News: The National Police Administration no longer will issue permit to approach Lioushun Mountain/Citsai Lake from the east. The section on elevated railway sleepers (unserviced for how many decades?) is now considered too dangerous.
My friendly rant time: Must again remind all of you living in the north of Taiwan (Taipei, Hsinchu, Yilan etc) that the weather is much much better in the center and south in winter - dry, sunny. As for the summer...er... stay on the cooler end of the island.
Great to have http://booksfromtaiwan.com/ selling excellent Taiwanese flora and fauna books now. If ever you need a Formosan sea cucumber field guide...
Whatever kind of new year you celebrate make it a very happy and safe one!