First off I would like to warn everyone that the road from Xinyi to Yushan is blocked off from 6:30pm-6:30am for rock fall control. We had to drive around Alishan which added 4 hours of driving to our trip.
That being said, let me tell you about our one day hike of the tallest mountain in Taiwan and East Asia (okay, East Asia is debatable, but it sounds better).
I know that I am not the first person to have climbed Jade Mountain in a day, but it seems like no one has blogged about it in English in a while. The last blog I found about hiking it in one day is from 2012, so I would like to give everyone some more recent info about the hike. I will also walk you through our experience with help with meticulous time notes compiled by my climbing partner.
Applying for permits 申請許可證:
This is perhaps the most difficult part of hiking Jade Mountain. In Taiwan, mountain and park permits are required to limit fatalities and help with rescue on the mountain. Originally we planned to do a two day hike and stay at Paiyun Lodge, but we realized we didn’t have time to wait; my climbing partner is going to get a Master’s degree in America at the beginning of next year, and Jade Mountain is closed for normal hikers from January to March. Also, I wanted to take as few days off from work as possible, so we opted for the one day hike, which is easier to get approved for if you meet the qualifications.
The mountain permit and park entry permit can both be applied for online. Some special requirements for the day hike though are that you must have experience climbing mountains above 3000 meters in the past 5 years. All you have to do is upload a picture of yourself on top of a mountain above 3000 meters and tell them which mountain it was. Also, you must give the park personal information such as name, age, and ID or passport number.
As with Paiyun Lodge, the day hike also requires a lottery process, but there are a lot less people who apply for it, so getting a spot is easier. We originally planned for Dec. 19th, but later the Jade Mountain Park service called us and told us that spots had opened up on the 18th, so we switched.
I had brought some my climbing gear from America, such as hiking boots, wool socks, hat, fleece pants, and gloves. I didn’t have any polyester long underwear, which I regretted later. My main food for the trip was 6 chocolate Costco muffins, which was too much. I only ate 2 ½. I also brought 3000 cc of water, although this may have been excessive as well because I’m sure you can fill up water at Paiyun lodge.
Also, because Jade Mountain had snowed the week before we left, we rented some crampons, not because we needed them but because we feared the park service would reject our climb if we didn’t have them (we ended up not needing them).
The Adventure 冒險:
Day 0: Dec. 17th, 2017
12:40 Met at Nangang Station and departed 南港車站集合，出發
15:05 Exited off the Mingjian Interchange 從名間交流道下來
At this time we figured there was time in the schedule for a quick trip to Sun Moon Lake. We drove to the lakeside and took some pictures and that was about it because it was super cold outside.
18:00 Arrived at Go Bier Hostel 到GO比爾民宿
Once we drove about the Xinyi there was super thick fog everywhere. Our hostel was in the middle of some fields on top of a mountain. Eventually we had to ask one of the locals to show us where it was. To get to the hostel we had to drive through some farmland on bumpy roads. Once we got there, our hostess told us that the road to Jade Mountain was going to close at 6:30 for rock fall control. If we left then, we would get no sleep and arrive too early to hike the mountain (Our permit was only for the 18th). If we left after 6:30, we would get there too late, because if you arrive later than 10:00 AM to Paiyun Lodge, they will not let you press on to the main peak.
This nightly road closing had only started last year with the advent of the Labor Standards Act, because the road crews have less manpower to keep the roads open for longer at night.
At this point our entire trip was in jeopardy. Then the hostel owner’s husband told us that the road to Jade Mountain from Alishan should be open, but there could be thick fog. It would be a three hour car ride, while driving from Xinyi would only have been one hour.
18:40 Slept 睡覺
21:00 Woke up 起床
21:10 Departed from the hostel 從民宿出發
22:14 Got on National Highway 3 toward Chiayi上南三高往嘉儀
22:55 Stopped at Family Mart to get drinks and some gas停全家買食物，加油
On the way up from Alishan we were lucky that there was very little fog on our way to the trail head, so we made it safely to the top.
Day 1: Dec, 18th, 2017
00:50 Made it to the Tataka parking lot (2610 M, 8562 ft.), parked, ate, broke an iPhone, and made sure we had everything. 抵達塔塔加停車場（2610M）停車，吃東西，破壞手機，整理裝備
As we were about to depart I found myself looking for my cell phone which had disappeared. Then I remembered I left it on the back door latch of our Toyota Wish to use as a light, but it was too late. We had smashed the iPhone with our car door twice. Later, I found that the phone was too expensive to repair. At that time I was very sad because for the long hike my music would be gone.
01:25 Departed 出發
02:05 Made it to the Linzhi Mountain Entrance 麟趾山登山口
02:20 Made it to the top of Linzhi Mountain 麟趾山山頂 （2854）
We made history by being perhaps the only day hikers of Jade Mountain to start of the day by climbing Linzhi Mountain. This added maybe 200 meters to our total climb, but I didn’t add it to the total because I am not sure of the altitude of the Jade Mountain entrance vs the parking lot entrance. It’s not really important. Basically, it was dark, we were first-timers, and we took a right when we should have turned left at the ancient tree. But, we still made it to the Jade Mountain hiking entrance in good time.
02:40 Made it to the Tataka saddle / Jade Mountain entrance 塔塔加鞍部登山口 (2610 M, 8562 ft.)
03:21 Menglu Pavillion 1.7K (1 mile) 孟祿亭 1.7K
I took a wizz here. It was quite a smelly experience. I think I understand now why my climbing partner didn’t go to the bathroom pretty much the whole day.
At this point, I was pretty beat. My climbing partner was in much better shape than me and she was pushing at a pace I couldn’t keep up with, which is why I went in front.
03:48 Jade Mountain Front Peak Trail Entrance 2.7K (1.6 miles) 玉山前峰登山口 2.7K
06:15 8K (5 miles)
At about 8 kilometers (5 miles), it was bright enough outside for me to turn off my headlamp and take a picture of the sea of clouds below.
We suddenly realized we were in the middle of a beautiful nature scene.
A small variety of bamboo grows everywhere here (sorry for the blur, it was dark).
The path the Paiyun seemed close. 去排雲山莊好像很進。
06:45 Made it to Paiyun Lodge (3402M, 11,161 ft) 8.5K (5.2 miles), delivered our park permits to the administration, rested 排雲山莊 (3402) 8.5K, 繳交入園證給管理員，大休
The first glorious sight of Paiyun Lodge. 第一次看見排雲山莊。
I noticed they had breakfast at the lodge for the guests there. As this blog is about the day trip and not the lodge stay, I have no further information. I sat on a stool here and slept for about 10 minutes. I could have slept for the whole day, but we had a mountain to climb.
We were told we could leave some bags at the lodge before our ascent to the top, so I gladly unpacked our heavy crampons that we had prepared in case there was going to be snow (there were only tiny patches of snow on the mountain).
I guess collecting rainwater is important at Paiyun Lodge. 在排雲山莊積水好像很重要。
The smelly bathrooms at the lodge. 排雲山莊很臭的洗手間。
07:15 Departed from Paiyun Lodge 從排雲山莊出發
07:58 Round Peak Fork 圓峰交叉口
We could see the top of Jade Mountain laughing at us from afar. 玉山主峰遠遠地似乎諷刺我們。
At around 8:30, the sun peaked over the ridge, and from then on it was a hot, hot hike.
At about the same time, we has hiked above the tree line. 大概這個時候我們超越森林綫。
This is just to give you an idea of how steep the trail was toward the top. The climb got steeper and steeper on the 2.4 KM (1.5 miles) from Paiyun Lodge to the top, which is a very short distance to climb 550 meters (nearly 2000 feet).
The higher we climbed, the stepper it got, and we began to see chains along the trail.
09:12 Rock Cages 鐵龍
Before the final run to the very top, there is a short section of cages to protect from rock falls along the side of the mountain. Everyone stopped here for photos and seemed content on resting here for a while.
At the end toward the main peak the trail almost went vertical, and some rock scrambling was required. Also, the higher up we got the stronger the winds were. I was feeling a bit queasy actually about halfway up from Paiyun Lodge, but I just took my time and near the top as we started scrambling I felt a lot better. We passed many people that had hiked the mountain from Paiyun Village early that morning, many that seemed to be Japanese tourists. One group told me that it would have been easy for me to stay in the Lodge because I’m a foreigner, but I didn’t have 3 other foreigners to go with me, so I couldn’t have done that.
在主峰的盡頭，這條小路幾乎垂直，需要一些亂石。另外，越高，風越強。 Paiyun Lodge的中途，我感覺有些不舒服，但是我只是把時間花在接近頂端，因為我們開始爭先恐後地感覺好多了。當天早上，我們經過許多從排雲村上山的人，有不少似乎是日本遊客。有一個小組告訴我，因為我是一個外國人，所以我留在旅館很容易，但是我沒有其他三個外國人和我一起去，所以我不能這樣做。
09:22 Main Peak – North Peak fork主北岔路
After the cages, you come directly to the Main Peak – North Peak fork. Here, known literally as the wind hole （風口）, the wind was the strongest. The wind was blowing hard enough to blow your hat and socks off.
Taking a short rest right before the summit.
There was some rock scrambling involved.
A fall here could kill you. 這邊率倒會死。
Almost there! 差一點就到頂！
09:49 Made it to Yushan Main Peak! (3952 M, 12,965 ft) 10.9 K (6.7 miles) 玉山主峰 （3952）10.9K 拍照
On the top we found another couple holding the ROC flag up, and we helped them take some pictures. I brought my company’s flag up too, but all the pictures turned out pretty terrible because it was so windy. The weather was perfect at the top and coming down, so we were lucky in that regard.
Me attempting to take a picture of our company flag.
View of Yushan West Peak. 玉山西峰。
View of Yushan North Peak. The Jade Mountain weather station lays on top of it. I think the view of Jade Mountain is best seen from this peak. Next time I think I would want to climb this one instead of the main peak.
Yushan East Peak. Dashuikushan in the background. 玉山東峰。大水窟山在後方。
View to the southeast.
View of Yushan Round Peak on the bottom and South Peak on the top.
View of Nanshan (Yushan south peak) through the clouds.
The best picture of me and my climbing partner at the top.
10:02 Journey back回程
Coming up and down the top was the steepest part. My climbing partner said that most of the deaths on Jade Mountain have occurred here. I believe that.
Coming back down the cages.
View coming down. 下來的風景。
11:15 Paiyun Lodge排雲山莊
This stretch from Paiyun lodge to the entrance was the longest part of the trip, probably because I didn’t recognize anything, as we hiked up in the dark. I found myself hallucinating, and every half kilometer seemed like a lifetime. I felt like I had lost control of my body and was watching myself walk down the trail. This was probably due to lack of sleep and fatigue, as well as the five blisters festering on my feet (I think it’s time for a new pair of hiking boots).
Even in my state of hallucination, I managed to get some photos of the nice ancient forest and mountain scenery.
Views similar to that of a Chinese painting. 像山水畫的風景。
Last view of the ancient forest. 神木森林最後的照片。
View of the valley right before the trail entrance. 我們來到登山口的最後山谷之照。
14:42 Tataka saddle entrance塔塔加鞍部登山口
When we reached the trail entrance, there were shuttles waiting for the hikers. At 100 NT to go like 1 K back to the parking lot, the price seemed a little steep, but we were exhausted and happily paid. This same shuttle was not available when we started at midnight.
當我們到達小道入口處時，有班車正在等待遠足者。在100 NT, 才1 K回到停車場，價格似乎有點貴，但我們已經筋疲力盡，愉快的付出這筆錢。當我們在午夜開始的時候，同樣的班車沒有開。
The road down from Jade Mountain to Xinyi was amazing. I felt like it is one of the highest roads in Taiwan, with amazing views of the surrounding mountains. Howver, there are often rock slides, and the speed limit is only 30-40 at most. Much of the road was under construction at the time, and I felt that at any time a section of the road could slide off the mountain.
16:25 Made it back to the hostel, prepared our things, showered 回到民宿，整理裝備
17:20 Departed from Taipei 出發回臺北
21:10 Back to Nangang 回到南港
You may ask why we didn't stay an extra night at the hostel. Because I didn't want to take off work again. You may ask why we booked a hostel at all. Simply because my wife and child were there waiting for us.
Total hiking statistics for our trip 我們此行的總徒步數據:
Total walking distance: 2.1K (1.3 miles) from the south river and Yushan forest trail, + 1.8K (1.1 miles) from Linzhi Mountain to Tataka saddle entrance, 8.5K*2 (5.3 miles*2) from the entrance to Paiyun lodge, 2.4K*2 (1.5 miles*2) Paiyun lodge to Yushan main peaker, for a grand total of 25.7K (16 miles).
Total Elevation gained: Tataka parking lot (2610, 8563 feet) to Yushan Main peak (3952M, 12966 feet) = 1342M (4,403 feet).
Total hiking time: 14:42 - 01:25= 13 hours 17 minutes
Total time driving: 5:20+3:40+1:20+3:50= 14 hours 10 minutes
Total time sleeping in a 48 hour period: 3 hours 30 minutes
總共行走：2.1K 南溪和玉山林道+1.8K麟趾山步道+8.5K*2 登山口到排雲山莊+2.4K*2排雲山莊到玉山主峰=25.7K
總共行走時間：14:42 - 01:25= 13小時17分鐘
If this blog hasn’t been as helpful as you need, there are a few forums on climbing Jade Mountain that you can search:
Lonely Planet Forum:
Trip Advisor Forum:
Fun Fact 有趣的事實：
After I climbed the mountain, my coworker showed me a photo from when she climbed it a few decades ago:
From 1965 until 1995, a bust of the famous scholar and ROC revolutionary Yu Youren stood on top of Jade Mountain. It was thought that if they placed his bust high enough, it could reach above 4000 meters (however later they found that Jade Mountain was 3 Meters less than this height, making the mountain with his bust only 3997 meters).
However, in 1995 a group of environmentalists cut off the bronze head and threw it off the mountain. Later, the park service found the head and put it back, but then in 1996 an unknown someone cut off the head again and it was never seen again. The reason that these original perpetrators did this is they thought that the bust on top of Jade Mountain was disrespecting nature. After the last beheading in 1996, later the Nantou county head placed a smaller rock on top of the mountain instead.
The ROC government did not prosecute the environmentalist beheadeders and has had no further reaction to this incident. I think most people can respect this action and realize that Jade Mountain should stand as a natural edifice and not a monument to Yu Youren.
Climbing Jade Mountain in one day turned out to be much harder than I thought it would be, and it definitely takes a greater fitness level to climb it in one day than two. As much as people like to play down how hard it is, the last 2.4 K, 550 meter climb at 3000+ meters （1.5 mile, 2000 foot climb at 10,000 feet) are a tough test for anyone. But, climbing it in one day gives you more flexibility time wise, is easier to get a spot, and takes less time.
The best advice I can give is to go to the mountain from Alishan, not Xinyi, no matter how much faster Google Maps tells you it will be. If you want a nicer accommodation than the Dongpu Lodge, you can book a hostel in near Alishan.
Also, one thing that became clear to me while hiking this is that I was climbing it only for pride, because it was the highest mountain. I think I would have enjoyed a lower hike with less people and less work much more. But because I climbed it, be sure to tell the whole world how great I am. Seriously, go shout it from the rooftops.
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We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.