TAROKO NATIONAL PARK & SUN MOON LAKE
SNOW MOUNTAIN (雪山) STANDARD ROUTE
Hiking matters #209: Successful ascent of Snow Mountain
Spring 2012 (April 29-May 2, 2012)
Hiking matters #258: Outdoor shops in Taipei’s Zhongshan N. Road
Spring 2013 (May 4-8, 2013)
THE ASCENT OF CILAI RIDGE (奇萊山)
Hiking matters #340: Day 1: Hehuanshan to Chenggong Hut
Hiking matters #341: Day 2: Ascent up Main Peak and North Peak
Hiking matters #342: Outdoor shops in Taiwan updates
Cilai Ridge Pictures on PM Facebook
Spring 2014 April 3-6, 2014)
JADE MOUNTAIN, TAIWAN’S HIGHEST (玉山)
Hiking matters #394: From Tataka trailhead to Paiyun Lodge
Hiking matters #395: Ascent to Yushan Main Peak
Hiking matters #396: Back to Tataka trailhead
Spring 2015 (Date to be announced)
DESTINATION/S TO BE ANNOUNCED
My next goals in Taiwan are the following mountains:
1. Nanhu Mountain Traverse
3. Wuling Quadruple Peaks
1. When is the best time to go?
Taiwan experiences four seasons, and each brings a particular charm. At the same time, weather can be bad throughout the year, so there is no assurance that a certain date would have great weather. I would personally avoid the typhoon season as Taiwan is also part of the typhoon belt. I’ve experienced perfect weather in April 2012 (Holy Ridge) and May 2013 (Cilai Ridge) and we got lucky with Jade Mountain (April 2014) but barely managed to summit due to bad weather in Snow Mountain (Nov 2011). So the weather is really variable.
2. When can we experience a snow hike/climb?
To experience snow, I think January to February would be the best months. March would still have snow but towards the spring the snow is either loose or icy making it a bit more complicated in some routes. However, the popular destinations are well-established even during the height of winter so there should be no problems.
In April 2014, I’ve had to use full crampons for the Jade Mountain hike – ice axes are usually not necessary but crampons, even half crampons, are useful during winter.
3. How to get a visa to Taiwan?
Check out Ivan Henares’ guide to getting a Taiwan visa here. For US, Canada, Schengen, Japan, Australia, and NZ visa holders, you can travel to Taiwan without a visa – you only need to fill out an online form (click here).
4. How do we get permits for Taiwan mountains?
Contacting the park authorities directly is the best and cheapest option.
Snow Mountain – visit the Shei-Pa National Park website.
Jade Mountain – visit the Yushan National Park website.
The Snow Mountain website is particularly useful. For Jade Mountain, the challenge is getting the permits during high season, when there are so many applicants for the allotted slots for the cabins, and the permits are raffled out. In this case it is good to have a plan B.
5. What about transportation?
There are buses from Taipei or Taichung that go to the mountains. If you are a large enough group it is also possible to charter a taxi or van from the nearest major city to the trailhead.
6. Do we have to bring tents? Where do people sleep in the mountains?
There are huts/cabins with bunk beds, and as part of the permit, you are assigned bed numbers. These cabins usually have a kitchen, dining area, latrines or restrooms, among others, depending on the popularity of the route. Some huts are very basic, but all of them have potable water.
7. What are the important things to bring?
It’s gonna be like Mt. Pulag – but colder and higher. Start applying layers for your clothing, starting with a good pair of base layers, fleece, and windbreaker. For shoes, unless it’s winter, you can wear the same closed hiking shoes that you use in the Philippines but I would still recommend hiking boots.
8. Are butane cans available in Taiwan?
Yes. They are available in convenience stores and some gasoline stations.
9. What hikes would you recommend?
There are many wonderful hikes in Taiwan. Most hikers would tend to pursue Yushan, being the highest, but it’s much easier to get to Snow Mountain, and certainly the other peaks are very rewarding as well, so the choice is yours. If you have extra time don’t forget to check out Taipei’s nice dayhikes including my favorite Mt. Qixing (七星山), Yangmingshan.
10. Any idea about the budget?
15-20,000 pesos is good enough for several days of hiking in Taiwan, including airfare, especially if you can get cheap flights. Lodging in Taipei is possible for 1,000 a night in backpackers’ inns and when you’re on the mountains, the cabin beds are included in the permit application.