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Ascent of Syue Shan on 2008-11-14

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Bob Packard
Gerry Roach
Ken Jones
Date:Friday, November 14, 2008
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Syue Shan
    Location:Taiwan
    Elevation:3885 m / 12749 ft

Ascent Trip Report

Syue Shan (Snow Mountain), 3886m, P1932m
+ HeHuan East Peak, 3421m, P471m YDS 2

Map: Unknown - none used.

Stats: 15mi, 1800mH

Time: Fri 14 Nov 2008: 14h15m round trip, over 3 days. (would probably be an 8-10h round trip with fastish walking).

Hut: Chika and 369 Hostels.

Start: From E, Wuling visitor centre.

Route: From trailhead (visitor centre) an obvious trail zig-zags uphill through trees, then levels off before the Chika Hostel. Passing R of Chika, the trail zig-zags up again through trees, passing an observation platform, then climbs, steep and rocky (known as the Crying Slope) to the East Peak (signboard and trig point, or bypass it on R). The trail generally descends, with a few short ascents, to reach the 369 Hostel. Beyond the hut, the trail zig-zags up through steep Yushan Cane prairie, enters a pinewood (the Black Forest), then descends (rocky) before climbing steeply out of the forest. Above this, it emerges into a wide bowl (glacial cirque?) then heads up its L side before slanting R and climbing to reach the ridge briefly, then continuing across a stony slope to emerge at the summit.

Difficulties: YDS class 1 to the Chika Hostel, class 1 - 2 to 369 Hostel, 2 with occasional 2+ to the summit.

Triangulation point: Stone block at East Peak, with Chinese lettering on its sides, and a large X on top surface, as on Yu Shan summit. None on Syue Shan itself

Summit: Rocky, fairly flat, with upright stone bearing Chinese and English (Syue Shan, 3886m) lettering.

Notes: We were here on a trip organised by Singapore-based www.boac-online.com Their service included the necessary permits, transport, food and guiding. See Yu Shan report for more details.

Our trek involved 2 hut nights - which was at least one too many. Strong walkers could do it in a day. A sensible 2-day strategy would be to reach 369 Hostel on Day 1, and on Day 2 to climb to the summit and descend to the trailhead.

After Tuesday's Yu Shan climb, we stayed overnight at Dongpu. On Wednesday we travelled to Sun Moon Lake where we met Kim and Grace, a young Singapore couple who joined us for the next 3 days. It became apparent that the hike was Kim's idea: his fiancee wasn't 100% convinced! That evening we stayed at HeHuan Villa - another Hostel. At 3180m this was our highest night of the trip. En route we had passed Chilai North Peak (3607m): Taiwan's 4th-highest independent peak. A small rocky peak behind the hostel gave an easy climb to a great view - including Syue Shan and its pointy companion Jongyanglian Peak.

Thursday morning we climbed HeHuan East Peak, 3421m, P471m. This climb was 325mH, from the trailhead which is reached via the small road leading downhill from the road junction at the Hostel. After studying the road atlas in the van, we were disappointed to learn we'd missed out on a P2000ft peak: the honours go to HeHuan North Peak (P~650m). We passed the latter's trailhead soon afterwards, as we drove north to Syue Shan. The drive was spectacular, with a narrow road winding through rugged scenery. The road was being repaired in many places: the hillsides are steep and unstable, and damage had been sustained, possibly as a result of a recent typhoon. At around midday we arrived at Wuling National Hostel, which included a nice restaurant. We had a meal here - one of the best of the trip - and met up with our mountain guide, Sam. We then drove to a visitor centre, where we organised our packs for the Syue Shan trek, which would involve 2 overnights. We then had an hour's delay while a landslip was repaired, before driving to the trailhead. After watching a video warning us of the rigours of the climb(!), we made a leisurely ascent, reaching the Chika Hostel, 2463m, at 1640, in 1h10m. After a decent meal cooked by Sam, we were early to bed, and slept fitfully thanks to jetlag and the combined sounds of 130 hikers.

Friday we were up at 0300 and left at 0400. We reached the observation platform at first light, and enjoyed fine views east to a jagged ridge crowned by the very impressive Jongyanglian Peak, 3705m, Taiwan's third highest independent peak, reportedly a tricky climb. Partway up the "Crying Slope", we watched the sun rise over this ridge. Soon after, we rested on East Peak, 3201m, P25m approx, then within an hour we were at 369 Hostel, 3100m (0800). Here we left our overnight gear and rested for an hour before continuing to the summit. We rested again at the base of the hollow above the Black Forest, finally reaching the summit at 1220, spending 50 minutes there. The view was impressive: along the Holy Ridge towards the iconic peak of Dapajian Shan, south across a sea of peaks to Yu Shan, and east to Jongyanglian Peak. After an easy descent we reached 369 Hostel at about 1510. Dinner, just before nightfall, was an impressive affair: each group had its big bowl of rice, and other bowls containing soup, vegetables and meats. All quite tasty in its way. Then another interminable night.

Saturday morning, after the summit-climbers had left at 0200, we finally got some sleep, rising at 0600, departing at 0715, stopping briefly at the observation platform and again at Chika Hostel, reaching the trailhead at about 1100. Sam had phoned ahead, and Lee met us with Coke and snacks. We then had a slow, very scenic drive - through the key saddle which separated Syue Shan from its parent - down across steep rugged hillsides, following a characteristic wide bouldery river bed. At one point we were diverted along the river bed itself - several hundred metres of road had been lost to a big landslip and they had yet to start work on reinstating it - quite a major task. Mid afternoon we reached the large town of Yilan, where we had a last meal with Kim and Grace who were staying here - then were driven back to our hotel in Taipei. Lee made a diversion past the 101 building - the world's tallest building, or so Gerry assured us (But as of 29nov08, Dubai has already taken the honours.)

After a last night in Taipei, I left Sunday morning, with Ken, Bob and Gerry leaving over the next few days. A very successful trip -with Taiwan's two Ultras both climbed in excellent weather.

The local arrangements and transport for our trip were provided by Mr Lee Laisun; our mountain guide was called Sam. See my Yu Shan report for further details.


There is a set of photographs on flickr.com
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
The summit monument on Syue Shan, Taiwan’s second highest peak (2008-11-13). Photo by Ken Jones.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1854 m / 6089 ft
    Extra Gain:49 m / 164 ft
    Distance:24 km / 14.9 mi
    Route:East ridge
    Trailhead:Wuling trailhead  2129 m / 6988 ft
    Grade/Class:YDS 2+
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Guide
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:8 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:5 Hours 45 Minutes



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