Saturday, January 8, 2011

Cold Fronts and Hehuan.

This winter has already seen several cold fronts sweep the Taiwan. Visitors to the high mountains should be ready for winter conditions. The Central Weather Bureau has the best forecasts by the way.

Last week saw the pass at Hehuan (the highest place you can drive here) close for a day to all traffic - including 4-wheel drive vehicles fitted with snow chains, as the road was cleared of snow and stranded vehicles. Of course this being Taiwan I’m sure there will be days in the next couple months when shorts and t-shirts will be fine for the easy peaks around there. Be prepared for restrictions on traffic between Dayuling on the north side, and Kunyang not far from Chingjing, and heavy weekend snow-viewing traffic. Also note, it can be more difficult (steeper uphill) coming southwards at the highest elevations. Feel free to ignore the guys selling/renting snow chains at Dayuling, if you continue on without and then start slipping there is sure to be someone nearby to sort you out - for a small price. The daily bus from Taichung to Lishan has been getting across most days. For current conditions, have a Chinese-speaker call the highway department - Puli (埔里工務段) 049-2982066 and Luoshao (洛韶工務段) 03-8691311、03-8691119.

On the subject of Hehuan - please note the hostel next to the road has been closed for the last couple years and the nearby replacements “5-star” Songsyue Hotel and Ski Lodge (hostel) run by the Forestry Bureau can be a pain to deal with. Great location but very can be restrictive and bureaucratic. Often better to stay at the CYC hostel at Guanyun a further away in the direction of Taroko Gorge.

The main route up Yushan (Jade Mountain) via Tataka will close in February, and in view of the recent weather close probably earlier. See previous posts for more info on this subject.

Being further north, the various mountains and ridge walks in Shei-pa (Snow) National Park are now very icy. Hikers should be appropriately prepared.

If planning a hiking trip over the upcoming Chinese New Year, try to schedule (especially if you have no family obligations) getting on the trails, a day or two before everyone else.

May I join the those deploring the adoption of the English-language name ‘New Taipei City’ for the municipality formally known as ‘Taipei County’. There was no good reason not to use the romanization of it’s new Chinese-language name - ‘Xinbei City’. This new name will cause much confusion in the years to come. Taiwan is a great place I’m very proud of, decisions like this are embarrassing.

Some updates on Taroko in the next post.