Yushan (aka Jade Mountain), located in east of Alishan and Chiayi in Taiwan's Central Mountain Range, is the country's and East Asia's higest peak (taller than Fujisan but shorter than Gunung Kinabalu). Unlike many other Asian islands, Taiwan has no volcanoes, but it does have mountains like Yushan that are created by earthquakes resulting from the collision of the Philippine and Eurasian tactonic plates. International peakbaggers often combine a trip to Yushan National Park (YNP) to climb this peak along with trips to Gunung Kinabalu and Fuji-san to form an "Asian Trilogy" hiking experience. Yushan has 5 main peaks with the Main Peak being the most popular:
- Main Peak: 3952 m
- East Peak: 3853 m (4.5 km from Main Peak)
- North Peak: 3833 m (3.5 km from "Wind Tunnel")
- South Peak: 3711 m (3.1 km from just above Paiyun Hut)
- West Peak: 3582 m (4 km from Paiyun Hut)
The North Peak is also home to Taiwan's highest permanently occupied building, the Yushan Weather Station, where the occasional visitors are given a warm welcome.
MAIN PEAK WEST FACE APPROACH: The shortest and most popular route to the summit is to ascend the class 3 West Face from the YNP Tatachia Vistors' Center (2610 meters / 8563 feet). The 10.2 km (6.3 mile) route is class 2 for the first 8.5 km (5.3 miles) to the Paiyun Hut (3460 meters / 11352 feet) after which it becomes a 2.6 km class 3 scramble to the top. This last part of the route is "enhanced" by a steel and net "Gate" structure erected to keep people from being blown off the mountain (based on past experience), particularly at a point called the "Wind Tunnel" 1 km from the summit. Popular descent routes include either retracing the route up or to hike down the East Face, described below. On the ascent, many people spend the night at or near the Paiyun Hut to make it up to the summit to view the sunrise the next day.
MAIN PEAK EAST FACE APPROACH: The second most popular, and arguably more scenic, route is to asend Yushan's East Face via the Patungkuan Trail from the Bunun aboriginal village / mountain resort town of Tungpu (1120 meters / 3674 feet). This route reaches the summit in 23.5 km (14.6 miles) passing the Patungkuan Meadow (3000 meters / 9842 feet), a popular camping area, at 17.5 km.
There are a variety of technical climbing routes on the North and Northwest Faces. Also see the River Tracing summit trip report under the LINKS section. River tracers are sometimes called "Aqua Mountaineers."
WEST FACE APPROACH: The trailhead for the West Face route is the Tatachia Vistor's Center on Taiwan's New Central Highway which runs between Alishan and Shuili (near Sun Moon Lake). From most parts of the island, drive to Chiayi on the Sun Yat-sen Freeway and then head east 79 km to Alishan after which Tatachia is another 20 km. As for public transportation, trains reach Alishan while buses can take you directly to Tatachia. Generally it takes about 7 hours to drive from Taipei to Tatachia.
EAST FACE APPROACH: Tungpu is reachable from the New Central Highway between Alishan and Shuili. Buses run between Shuili and Tungpu several times a day generally taking 1.5 hours to Tungpu and 1 hour back.
See the Lonely Planet Taiwan Guide for more public transportation information.
Lonely Planet's Taiwan area map: just for general locations.
There is quite a bit of red tape involved with hiking above 3000m in Taiwan often involving minimum group sizes (of 3 people), mandatory guides, passports (or ARC - Alien Resident Certificate), police stations, alpine associations, and possibly even quotas (with discrimination against non-Taiwan citizens - typically during summer vacation when kids aren't in school). Signing on to a package tour can lessen the impact as the tour operator will handle getting the permit.
CLASS A MOUNTAIN PERMIT (MANDATORY): Climbing above 3000 meters on Yushan requires a Class A mountain permit. To get one you must have a minimum group size of 3 and apply to a mountain club. You must also have your original and copies of your passport. The Chinese Taipei Alpine Association is often recommended and they have staff proficient in English.
Taiwanese Mountain Clubs (to request Class A permits):
CHINESE TAIPEI ALPINE ASSOCIATION
10 Fl., 185 Chungshan N. Road
Sec. 2, Taipei, Taiwan ROC
Tel: 2591-1498, 2594-2108
MOUNTAINEERING AND HIKING ASSOCIATION
50-A Lungchiang Road
Taipei, Taiwan ROC
NATIONAL ALPINE ASSOCIATION OF TAIWAN
Web: http://www.taiwanalpine.org.tw (in Chinese)
You may also need to interact with the Foreign Affairs Police in Chiayi (about a block away from the bus and train stations) to arrange for the Class A mountain permit if your club has only provided you with a letter and not the permit itself.
Note on Quotas: While the author has not seen published quota information, on July 24, 2001 a representative of the Chinese Taipei Alpine Association stated there is a 100 person per day quota on weekends and a 18 person per day quota on weekdays for Yushan (at least during July and August - both figures inclusive of guides). He also mentioned that they typically put in their weekend Class A permit requests 2 months in advance.
FINES AND PENALTIES: If your group is caught without a Class A permit, there is a USD 500 fine imposed and a 1 year ban on re-entering Yushan National Park. Pretty stiff, but I guess that's what happens when Lonely Planet recommends sneaking in without a permit??
When To Climb
It is recommended to climb this peak during the dry season generally lasting from October to early-December. Climbing is also popular during the typhoon season (July to September) as long as you avoid times when a typhoon is actually around. Avoid climbing this peak during heavy rains periods such as the Plum Rains which occur during May. During late-December to March, the peak is typically clad white in snow, making summits the realm of experienced winter climbers. February is often the best month for couloir climbing.
TYPHOONS: Typhoons are storms that have surface winds of 118+ km/h (74+ mph). One example is Typhoon Toraji which hit Taiwan on July 30, 2001 with gusts up to 144 km/h (90 mph). In Nantou County (Tungpu) cars and homes were half buried in mud before the waters receeded and as of August 1, 2001 at least 61 people had lost their lives and more than 150 were considered missing in Taiwan. Typhoon Utor, which hit a month earlier, was even stronger and had killed at least 168 people in China (46), the Philippines (121), and Taiwan (1). YNP is typically closed during and after a typhoon.
Naval Pacific Meteorology and Oceanography Center/Joint Typhoon Warning Center: Click on "JTWC" on top frame
WEST FACE APPROACH: The most popular place to stay on this trail is at the Paiyun Hut. You can stay in the hut for NT$200 per night, however, camping in a tent or under the stars is also allowed here.
EAST FACE APPROACH: Patungkuan Meadow at 3000 meters is a popular alpine meadow to spend the night at. There is a mountain hut here, but camping in a tent or under the stars is also allowed. If you plan on staying at Patungkuan Meadow you should now that there's no water hear and the closest source is a stream just below. The Laonung Creek Campground, farther up the trail, is also popular.
You can contact the following sources for current mountain conditions:
YNP TATACHIA VISTORS' CENTRE
(see Getting There: West Face)
ALISHAN TRAVELLER'S SERVICE CENTRE
Location: Across from bus station in Alishan
(see Getting There: West Face)
Yushan web cam (Ref: jasonchiu )