Sat, Nov 03, 2018 - Page 13 News List

Down and out on Jade Mountain

A climb up Jade Mountain is an adventure that no visitor to Taiwan should miss — just be sure to get enough sleep so that you can summit

By Noah Buchan  /  Staff reporter

By the time we return to Paiyun Lodge, there are roughly 100 people inside and outside and in the many rooms for sleeping that, like Dongpu below us, holds up to 20 in bunk beds. The lodge up here is much cleaner and more spacious than Dongpu. Most hikers agree that the cold tap water is drinkable because it is sourced from the mountain. I fill up my bottle.

THE SUMMIT

At 5:30pm our group is called for dinner: chicken or pork with rice and vegetables. Meals, like everything else at Paiyun, are simple because people have to trek it up the mountain by foot everyday.

An hour later, and I’m under the sheets, telling myself that within the next eight hours I will almost certainly be able to catch a few hours before waking up at 3am to climb the summit. It doesn’t happen. As the minutes pass to hours, I realize that I won’t catch a moment’s sleep. I put on my noise-canceling headphones, but those don’t work because I can’t lay on my side while wearing them. It only dawns on me later that I should have tried to sleep outside (an option, though camping is not allowed near the lodge).

And so it goes. Three o’clock arrives, and I still haven’t slept. Without sleep, I’m feeling dizzy and somewhat confused, an awareness that becomes more pronounced as I leave our room and walk down to the deck overlooking the valley, the stars in the sky competing for enchantment. Most of our group has already set out, their headlights and dozens of others forming an illuminated snake up the mountain. I think that I’ve come all this way, but also think of the rescue helicopter and the four hour descent waiting for me when I return from the summit, in addition to the knowledge that this is the most difficult part of the climb. I stifle my pride and decide to skip the summit and stay behind and try to sleep at the now-deserted lodge. It works. For the first time in 48 hours I am able to sleep, only waking when the other climbers return starting at 7:30am.

For details of climbing Jade Mountain, including booking a room at Paiyun Lodge and applying for permits, visit: npm.cpami.gov.tw. For complete details about Yushan (Jade Mountain) National Park, including entry permits, routes and weather conditions, visit: www.ysnp.gov.tw.

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