A man and a woman heaved a sigh of relief on Friday after they survived three cold nights lost on the nation’s second-highest peak, eating nothing but Mentos.
Chen Yu-chu (陳佑竹), 30, and Chang Yun-chien (張芸茜), 40, joined a man surnamed Liu (劉) to ascend the 3,886m tall Snow Mountain (雪山) on Monday as a way to celebrate the arrival of the New Year.
To get ready to conquer the summit on New Year’s Eve, the trio spent their first night in the 369 Cabin at an altitude of 3,690m in Shei-Pa National Park in Miaoli County’s Dahu Township (大湖).
However, after Liu suffered headaches the next morning, Chen and Chang decided to go up the mountain on their own.
After Chen and Chang failed to return to the cabin before midnight to count down to the New Year with Liu as planned, Liu immediately called the police.
Although Chen had many wildness survival experiences, the pair’s families were extremely worried, saying that Chang was an inexperienced climber and that they had packed lightly when heading to the summit on Tuesday.
The pair said after their rescue that were it not for the two lighters and two rolls of Mentos they had brought with them, they might not have survived.
“We went astray because of heavy fog when trying to reach the peak. As Chen’s GPS navigation device and radio transmitter were both out of batteries at the time, we decided to head down to the valley of the Cijiawan River [七家灣溪] first because the nighttime temperatures on the summit could drop to as low as minus-6°C,” the pair said.
Chen and Chang said that they used their lighters to start a fire out of tissue papers and dry branches they gathered to stay warm.
Since the Mentos were their only food, the pair decided to eat one mint only when they felt unbearably hungry.
They spent two long nights along the river before heading toward the mountain’s East Peak (東峰) on Thursday morning to try to find their way back to the cabin.
After spending another night in the woods, the pair eventually found the hiking trail and returned to the cabin.
The Taiwan Rock Rescue Association and the Greater Taichung Government’s Fire Bureau came to their rescue at about 2pm on Friday.
Chang burst into tears upon seeing the rescuers, saying the three nights had been a living hell and that they had felt like they were on the brink of death.
The bureau said that the pair was weak, but stable, and rescuers escorted them down the mountain yesterday after staying one night at the cabin.