With Yushan’s Paiyun Cabin still not open, the best way to climb Taiwan’s highest mountain is the tough single day ascent. Starting at Tatajia you have to ascend and descend some 1700m and cover 26km in a single day. It’s not for everyone, but is makes for a great challenge for those who are up to it.
We headed down to Tatajia on the Saturday. It should be a 5 hour drive but it ended up taking the entire day with the summer holidays starting and an awful coach crash meaning there were huge traffic jams. Anyone wanting to climb Yushan must watch a safety video and so we rushed to get to the visitor centre in time. Making it with minutes to spare, we were told there was no need to watch the video. It seemed like to guy in charge just couldn’t be bothered to play it for us which was just fine by us!
We spent the night at the Dongpu Hostel which is at Tatajia. It’s a very confusing name which often has people looking in the hot spring village of Dongpu a good hour’s drive away! The hostel is very basic but at least there’s a kitchen and bedding is provided. It makes for a good place to acclimate before the big hike, just remember your earplugs!
We were up at 3am the next day and hit the trail at 4.20am. There’s a 2.5km road that needs to be walked before you reach the trailhead proper and by the time we got there the sun was already up. Luckily in the early morning, the trail stays in the shade and it was a very pleasant walk to get to the Paiyun Cabin. If you’re doing the single day ascent, you’ve got to get to the cabin by 10am or you won’t be allowed to continue the walk. We were there around 8.30 and so we had plenty of time to take a break before the big slog to the top.
The new cabin is looking pretty good and pretty much finished. I asked around to see when it might open and was met with “don’t know” each time. It seems the legal wrangling continues. One person said that won’t be settled any time soon and if it’s not sorted by winter time, then the cabin won’t open until the spring of next year. Other’s also complained that the cabin will house 100 hikers, but the kitchen, toilet and waste facilities are only enough for 50. The whole thing sounds like a farce. Hopefully things will get sorted out sooner rather than later.
The hike up to the peak is very different to the walk to the cabin. Very quickly you’re out of the tree line and climbing up the switch backs on scree. It’s a very steep climb that only gets steeper as you go. The final push from the turn-off to the north peak is especially tiring, but it’s all worth it when you get views like we did.
We stayed for a long time at the top and made it back to Paiyun around 1pm. By this time the clouds were coming in and in a matter of moments, the heavens opened and it began to pour down. The heavy rain was accompanied by lightening and it made for a cold , wet and quite scary walk back. The precipice, a cliff like section of rock, was turned into a waterfall because there was so much rain.
Thankfully we all made it down safely and by the time we got back to the trail head the sun was back out. It was hard to imagine that just a couple of hours earlier we had been slogging our way through ankle deep puddles. All in all it took just under 12 hours to finish the hike. Well done to everyone who came!
Applying for the permit is a nightmare. You’ll need photos of each member of the team on top of a 3000m+ peak, each member must sign a declaration that they know what they are getting into, you have to come up with a training plan……. and so and so forth. Contact the national park for all the relevant paperwork.
It’s about a 12 hour hike to the peak and back. You must get to Paiyun Cabin by 10am or you can’t carry on. Headlamps are essential in case you aren’t down in time.
The shuttle bus to the trail head runs, but it doesn’t start early enough and so you’ll need to walk up from Tatajia. It’s possible to get a ride down – 100NT per person.
There’s still a water source at Paiyun and a toilet/shack so there’s no need to carry huge amounts of water.
Dongpu Hostel website. There’s a form to fill in online to make a booking, but you’re better off calling them - (049)270-2213. The kitchen has stoves but you’ll need to bring your own pots, pans, chopsticks and food.