Dabajian Shan (大霸尖山, Mount Dabajian
in English, Dapajian
, or simply Daba
) is in Northern Taiwan, only a few hours drive from Taipei city. Featured on the 500 Taiwan Dollar note and a namesake of the Shei-Pa National Park, this mountain is clearly well known within the mountaineering circles of Taiwan, however it is relatively obscure off the island.
The mountain was first climbed in 1927. Until recently there were ladders built into the mountain to assist hikers making the tough ascent. But recently the ladders were all removed and efforts are being made to discourage unfit people from venturing onto the peak. Most of the wall surrounding the summit cap is completely overhanging. The rock is very loose and large stones are liable to come hurtling off, especially in stormy conditions. The trail that cuts underneath the most dangerous section is protected by a cage, however, its badly mangled from rockfall. Today most hikers are content just to take photos of the summit cap and bag some nearby peaks.
Shei-Pa National Park takes its name from Shei Mountain (aka Syue
Mountain, or Snow Mountain
in English) and Ba Mountain (aka Daba
). Xue Mountain, at 3886m, happens to be the 2nd highest mountain in Taiwan, only lower than Yushan
, and is one of the 2 ultra-prominent peaks in Taiwan. While the park contains 51 mountains over 3000m, the country of Taiwan has a total of more than two hundred peaks over 3000m. The 100 most famous are known as the Bai Yue (百岳, 100 peaks) and serve as a popular challenge for Taiwan's hikers and mountaineers. Of these, an even more select group is known as the "Five Mountains, Three Peaks", of which Dabajian is the most difficult summit to reach (climbing ban notwithstanding).
Similar to other high mountains in Taiwan, there is always some bureaucratic hoop jumping. First, you need to apply for the Park Entry Permit between 7-30 days before the start date of your trip. It can be applied for via e-mail. Second, you need the Mountain Entry Permit.
Take note, authorities issued a climbing ban on 23 July 2010 prohibiting anyone from climbing to the top of this mountain.
Here's a website
for the application forms and instructions on how to submit. (The permits will allow you access to the park and trails in the area but not to climb the summit at this time.)
Getting There & Camping
Dabajian can be approached from 2 major trailheads: Guanwu Recreation Area and Wuling Recreation Area. It is possible to access from some nearby villages as well, but the trail conditions may be poor.
Taiwan's high mountain national park system is well serviced by a mountain hut system. The nearest hut to Daba is Cabin 99 which is 6km northwest of the mountain. Reservations are required before arrival.
External Links Official website for Shei-Pa National Park
Report from Taiwanese hiking group with many pictures
Note about Spelling
Transliteration of chinese script has always been a bit messy. Over the last 60 years, the proliferation of a standardized Pinyin
has greatly improved the situation, however, it is more widespread in China than Taiwan and only really useful to alphabetize Mandarin. Since China has hundreds if not thousands of dialects, which all share the same written language, it is not possible for a Western-based instrument to be a drop-in substitute for the Chinese Hanzi
without some confusion for the uninitiated. Predictably, Taiwan is not eagerly adopting the Pinyin system which was developed in China in the 1950's despite its many advantages but rather stubbornly sticking to the Wade-Giles system, hence be prepared to find many different spellings all over maps, signboards throughout the country, and especially on the internet. The only way to really get past all the confusion is to learn to read Chinese characters (but then you'll have to choose either simplified which is used on the mainland or traditional which is still used in Taiwan :) )