Ascent of Yushan on 2008-11-11

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Bob Packard
Gerry Roach
Ken Jones
Date:Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
    Elevation:12963 ft / 3951 m

Ascent Trip Report

Yu Shan (Jade Mountain), 3952m, P3952m

Map: Unknown - none used.

Stats: 17mi, 1115mH

Time: Tue 11 Nov 2008: 7h30 up, 4h30 down. (would be a 6-7h round trip with fastish walking).

Hut: (Paiyun hut - not used)

Start: From W, Tatajia visitor centre. Park here (locked gate) and take shuttle service (van leaves at 06:30) 2.8km to Tatajia trailhead. We left earlier, hence walked from the visitor centre.

Route: From trailhead (signboard) an obvious trail heads L (roughly E), well signposted, fairly soon passing a L turn which leads to Front Peak. The main trail eventually reaches the Paiyun Hut. From the hut, the trail continues, zig-zagging through scrubby trees. At a signpost, the South Peak trail forks R, crossing steepish slopes. The main trail zig-zags up towards the Main Peak, crossing a stable scree slope, then reaches steeper rocky ground, cable protected, with minor scrambling. A notch in the ridge is reached. Above this, the next 50m of trail (called the Wind tunnel) follows a wide ledge which has been fenced in and roofed over to prevent hikers from being blown off the trail (apparently several people have died here). On exiting the "tunnel", the trail forks, with the North Peak trail forking L and descending, while the Main Peak route turns R, steeply uphill, with minor scrambling and cable protection, reaching the summit in c. 10 mins from the "tunnel".

Difficulties: YDS class 1 (fairly exposed) to the Paiyun hut, class 1 - 2 above, class 2+ leading to the "wind tunnel", some passages of easy 3 on final summit climb. Once on the steep rocky ground, beware of stones dislodged by other hikers.

Triangulation point: Stone block at summit, with Chinese lettering on its sides, and a large X on top surface reminiscent of French trigs.

Summit: Rocky, with upright stone bearing Chinese and English (Yu Shan, 3952m) lettering.

Notes: We were here on a trip organised by Singapore-based Their service included the necessary permits, transport, food and guiding. See below for more details.

I had met up with Bob, Ken and Gerry on Sat evening at Taipei airport, spent Sunday in Taipei resting (just as well - it rained all day). Monday too started wet: we were picked up by our driver/organiser Lee and mountain guide Arthur, drove S, initially on Freeway 1, called at a visitor centre to view a display and video, then drove a winding mountain road, initially along a wide boulder-strewn washbed then climbing rugged forested slopes. We stopped for a distant view of Yu Shan before reaching Upper Dongpu Lodge, in time to view a nice sunset. Arthur and Lee prepared a chinese meal (filling but pretty hard work) then we got an early night.

We day-hiked the peak, mainly because boac hadn't booked early enough and the hut was full - but were happy to have avoided a night in a crowded hut. After a fairly "difficult" rice-based breakfast (hot tip - have with you jam, honey, sugar, anything sweet!) we are at the Tatajia visitor centre by 03:30. No transport at this hour: we hike the road, reaching the trailhead at 4.a.m. From a signboard, an obvious trail heads off L, crossing slopes which drop off steeply to the R. The trail has been carefully engineered, with over 80 bridges, and some impressive drops, often cable protected. After 1h or so, the trail rounds a L bend, and Yu Shan can be seen in the distance, above a very impressive gorge. Finally Paiyun lodge is reached: we rest here and take some sweet milky tea. The day is dry and clear, and we continue in warm sunshine, through scrubby trees, bushes, then steep rocky ground leads to the "wind tunnel". We reach the summit at 11 a.m. Most others are already on their way down (the usual approach is to sleep at Paiyun) so we have the summit to ourselves. The views are excellent, with a nice clear atmosphere after several days rain.

After 30 mins we descend, stopping briefly at Paiyun for a drink, then marching down fairly smartly as the last minibus leaves at 4 p.m. - we just make it. Also just in time for the bus is a Chinese man based on Los Angeles, CA, who has hiked the peak in 6h30 - a little over half our time. We are dropped off at the visitor centre where Arthur calls in to report our safe return and cancel the permits. Then we transfer to our own van and are driven down to Dongpu. We stay in a comfortable hotel, although the evening meal and particularly breakfast are again a bit of a struggle. The promised Hot Springs turn out to be a rooftop heated swimming pool. We choose bed. Next day we travel via Sun Moon Lake to HeHuan Shan, en route to Taiwan's other Ultra, Syue Shan which we would climb on Friday.

The local arrangements and transport for our trip were provided by Mr Lee Laisun,, Our mountain guide was Arthur Chung, It may be possible to set things up with them direct, if their English language skills are up to the job. There is no need for a mountain guide (the trail is obvious), but it was good to have all the arrangements made - especially the permits. As noted by Greg on the main page, it is possible to obtain permits via the internet. Another local outfit is as used by Petter Bjorstad and referenced on his website, although I failed to get any response from them by email or telephone. Our arrangements were set up by Tim at boac, and the trip itself went smoothly, although Tim worried us by "going missing" a month before the trip, just at the time when permits had to be obtained. He had gone off travelling and apparently found himself without internet access.

There is a set of photographs on
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
The summit monument on Yu Shan, Taiwan’s highest peak (2008-11-10). Photo by Ken Jones.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3980 ft / 1212 m
    Extra Gain:164 ft / 49 m
    Round-Trip Distance:16.8 mi / 27 km
    Route:West face route
    Trailhead:Tatajia  9311 ft / 2837 m
    Grade/Class:YDS 2+ (3)
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Scramble
    Gear Used:
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear
Warm and sunny
Ascent Statistics
    Time:7 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:4 Hours 25 Minutes

Other Photos

Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Yu Shan (rear center) rises above the rugged terrain of Taiwan (2008-11-11). Photo by Ken Jones.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
"The Wind Tunnel" below Yu Shan’s summit, built to keep climbers from being blown to their death (2008-11-10). Photo by Ken Jones.
Click here for larger-size photo.

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