Fri, Aug 11, 2017 - Page 13 News List

Off the Beaten Track: The other summits of Jade Mountain: The roof of Taiwan, without the crowds

While there are ways to avoid the crowds at Yushan’s main summit, another way to enjoy some solitude is to tackle one of the nearby peaks

By Richard Saunders  /  Contributing reporter

For the average two-day hiker, the easiest add-on to an Yushan trek is one of the two peaks that lie off the trail between Tatajia and Paiyun Lodge (you could, of course do both, if you’re feeling really full of beans). Near the 2.5km marker, the short, but very steep, scramble up to Yushan Front Peak (玉山前峰, 3,239 meters) is best left to hikers aiming to bag all “top 100 peaks of Taiwan.” The climb up (and especially the scramble back down) is exhausting if taken too quickly, the views from the tiny summit are poor in comparison to the other peaks, and afterwards there’s still an uphill walk of nearly 6km to reach Paiyun Lodge.

Much more worthwhile (especially if the weather is clear) is the 2km detour to Yushan West Peak (玉山西峰, 3,518 meters); the trailhead is right next to Paiyun Lodge. Apart from a few rocky pitches near the beginning, the trail is fairly simple and largely level until the final steep but short climb to the peak. The summit itself is wooded and forgettable, but a couple of minutes beyond it is a beautiful reconstructed Japanese Shinto shrine. Best of all, shortly before the climb to the peak, the trail crosses a grassy meadow, which in good weather commands one of the very best views of Yushan’s craggy summit peak, towering across the way.

Richard Saunders is a classical pianist and writer who has lived in Taiwan since 1993. He’s the founder of a local hiking group, Taipei Hikers, and is the author of six books about Taiwan, including Taiwan 101 and Taipei Escapes. Visit his Web site at www.taiwanoffthebeatentrack.com.

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