Advice for two big hikes in March

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Advice for two big hikes in March

Postby Cunninlinguist » 13 Jan 2012, 12:41

Hey all. I am planning two big hikes in late February and early March. The first is the traditional Holy Ridge trail from Dabajianshan to Xueshan to Wuling Farm. Some questions: Should I start applying for permits now? Will I have to have others on my trip to get permits? Does anyone else want to come? Would it be very easy to get a taxi or bus back to our vehicle from Wuling if we leave it at the trailhead to Daba? What will the trail conditions be like that time of year? Much snow? Should I bring crampons?

The second is to start on the Walami trail at the east end of the Batongguan trail, and turn south toward Jiaming Lake, and finish at Siangyang FRA. My questions for this are similar, but since I don't know anyone who has done it or have read anything but the suggestion of this possibility in the latest Lonely Planet (and it also suggests that this junction may or may not exist due to washouts [from Morakot?] that were under construction at time of press) I would really appreciate any first-hand information about this.

Any other extended hike suggestions? I will also be joining a Taiwanese friend who is leading a trip by this description: 能高安東軍追鹿縱走. Five days over Chinese New Year... should be fun!

Peace,
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Re: Advice for two big hikes in March

Postby Mucha Man » 13 Jan 2012, 13:45

First off, are you a very experienced hiker who knows how to use crampons in icy conditions? Have you hiked extensively alone? You are choosing two tough routes and not ones I would ever recommend for someone on their first try.
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Re: Advice for two big hikes in March

Postby Jah Lynnie » 13 Jan 2012, 15:56

I'd expect The Holy Ridge to have quite a lot of snow in February. Last March, which was a colder snowier winter than average, we had a foot or two of snow on our foray up there. Now, you may be from B.C. (I remember from previous posts), but keeping on the trail in that much snow isn't very easy because the distance markers are placed low on the track and get buried in the snow and being a N.P. there aren't the profusion of plastic tags you might see on other trails. Plus, the trail doesn't stick to the top of the ridgeline totally but dips off at seemingly random places. Since The Holy Ridge is an extremely rugged route that stays above 3,000 meters for at least 4 days, this would be the absolute last place I'd choose to hike in February. R.Saunders of Off The Beaten Track blog and Taipei Escapes books fame is organising a hike to Snow Mtn in March and another trip to The Holy Ridge in April.Stu Dawson's outfit also organise hikes to Snow Mtn regularly. That might be worth considering instead. Going back to Daba from Wuling farm would be a pain in the ass.

Your second plan is better, but I don't think they'd be willing to give a permit to a solo hiker who can't prove much previous experience in Taiwan.I suggest you get a group together or join a commercial group. You can see ads in the Taiwan Mountain Magazine. Also, late Feb, early March could be quite snowy on the several peaks on the way.I went from Siangyang to Tungpu and also Tungpu to Walami quite a while ago and there are huts on both routes. I suggest you contact Richard Barking Deer who leads tours up there and see what he says.
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Re: Advice for two big hikes in March

Postby spunkymonkey » 13 Jan 2012, 22:30

I was up on the Holy Ridge in April and even then there was a fair amount of snow/ice, especially between Xuebei 雪北 and Pintian 品田 so I would avoid Feb if you're on your own. From Wuling to Guanwu it would cost you an arm and a leg to get a taxi. It must be 100km at least.

I'll be (hopefully) doing the Xinkangshan to Walami Trail just after Chinese New Year. We orginally applied for a permit with a team of 2 and it was rejected, even with photos of us doing the Holy Ridge in winter because you need at least 3 people for that trail. Found (forced) a friend to join us and we're waiting to see if they'll give us the permit now. If you do that one, you'll have to camp at least 2 nights between the Baoyai Cabin 抱崖山屋 and the Jiaminghu Cabin 嘉明湖山屋.

I'll let you know how it goes on here.
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Re: Advice for two big hikes in March

Postby urodacus » 13 Jan 2012, 23:12

Seriously, man, listen to Jah Lynnie.

Snow up in Taiwan sounds trivial but will kill the inexperienced or unlucky.
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Re: Advice for two big hikes in March

Postby Cunninlinguist » 14 Jan 2012, 23:56

Thanks for the advice. Clearly, the Holy Ridge will have to wait for another time. Hopefully I'll be able to talk some of my Taiwanese friends into joining me for the Walami to Jiaming Lake trip. I will have about two weeks of freedom before I return to the states, and just really want to spend as much time in the forests and mountains of Taiwan as I can. I have spent a lot of time on the trails connecting Wulai, Manyueyuan, and Fushan, but still haven't done the Fuba trail. I attempted Beidawushan back in October, but got rained out (and a weasel stole my lunch). I climbed the mountain overlooking Sun Moon Lake. I've done the first section of the Batongguan trail to the meadow, and then climbed the mountain of the same name. What other areas or trail systems would be worth spending a few days on? I have extensive experience in easy snow, but little/none in moderate snow and ice. I am relatively good at map and compass navigation. The more rugged, the better. Any input is appreciated.
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Re: Advice for two big hikes in March

Postby tommy525 » 15 Jan 2012, 07:22

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Re: Advice for two big hikes in March

Postby Jah Lynnie » 15 Jan 2012, 08:07

http://www.flickr.com/photos/62169018@N ... 578920632/

See above link for snowy conditions on The Holy Ridge in March.


As for suitable hikes in your time frame, if the weather isn't particularly good, I'd go further south. The Jin-Shui Ying Old Trail connecting Taidong and Kaohsiung Counties is written up in Lonely Planet. BeiDaWuShan is also another possibility (need a permit for that).

There are a bunch of trails in the Fenqihu area near AliShan. You could do a couple of those and make a few days of it with the option of staying in accomodation if the weather isn't so good.

Another area that isn't mentioned much on this board is the Sitou and ShanLinHsi area in Nantou County. Sitou is quite a popular place for local 'car-hikers' but for the most part they stay resolutely on or in sight of the concrete roads criss-crossing the Cryptomeria Japonica plantation. Rather disappointingly, the raised walkway above the treetops goes over the orderly man made rows of these trees. Behind this 'tourist containment area' in the lower levels of Sitou, there is a ridge which you can hike all the way to the back of ShanLinHsi from where buses go back to Sitou and Taichung. There is a lookout spot where there is a water tap.The path is clear and sign-posted.

If you are flying solo and only have limited camping experience in Taiwanese forest and mountain, the above ideas might be worth looking into.
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Re: Advice for two big hikes in March

Postby the bear » 15 Jan 2012, 15:02

Jah Lynnie wrote:http://www.flickr.com/photos/62169018@N04/sets/72157626578920632/

See above link for snowy conditions on The Holy Ridge in March.


As for suitable hikes in your time frame, if the weather isn't particularly good, I'd go further south. The Jin-Shui Ying Old Trail connecting Taidong and Kaohsiung Counties is written up in Lonely Planet. BeiDaWuShan is also another possibility (need a permit for that).

There are a bunch of trails in the Fenqihu area near AliShan. You could do a couple of those and make a few days of it with the option of staying in accomodation if the weather isn't so good.

Another area that isn't mentioned much on this board is the Sitou and ShanLinHsi area in Nantou County. Sitou is quite a popular place for local 'car-hikers' but for the most part they stay resolutely on or in sight of the concrete roads criss-crossing the Cryptomeria Japonica plantation. Rather disappointingly, the raised walkway above the treetops goes over the orderly man made rows of these trees. Behind this 'tourist containment area' in the lower levels of Sitou, there is a ridge which you can hike all the way to the back of ShanLinHsi from where buses go back to Sitou and Taichung. There is a lookout spot where there is a water tap.The path is clear and sign-posted.

If you are flying solo and only have limited camping experience in Taiwanese forest and mountain, the above ideas might be worth looking into.


Regarding Shanlinxi you can hike from there to Alishan via Monkey Rock in one (long) day. I presume this hike still exists although it is 20 years since i done it. It would be a good hike in winter because its not too exposed. MM might be able to confirm if the walk still exists.
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Re: Advice for two big hikes in March

Postby Jah Lynnie » 16 Jan 2012, 16:52

The hiking possibilities, Bear, have changed somewhat since your visit last century. A lot of people prefer to divert off the old Forestry Road and take the ridge route via LuChuShan. From there the path gets back on the road remnant briefly and then heads down to ShuiYang Forest. From there, one path goes to QianRendong and then down to FengShan.That path isn't tagged very clearly at the river crossing and is quite rough from the cave onwards especially further down near FengShan where a bridge has been washed away.

The second and third possibilities involve finding the path on the other side of the lake up to the Forestry Road. Once up there the left turn route goes along a very rough section of the road to a pass and down to a village above the Shuili to Tungpu road.This route is also seldom used with very few tags and a lot of undergrowth obscuring the path.The right turn also follows the road remains to the end and a climb up to the train line branch from AliShan. This route is seldom used, untagged and with lots of landslides. The last time I was in that section was to climb Sungshan (Songshan), a mountain above the old Monkey Rock train station (which now sits at an angle ready to tip over the edge).There is actually a sign at Monkey Rock station saying that the route is closed. Since Morakot I suspect the old train line has sustained damage especially since there are many trestle bridges in poor shape there. 9/21 also caused a lot of damage and that route fell off the radar for local hikers from then on. About 15 years ago, a New Zealander disappeared along those train tracks.

For the O.P. I'd say the route to the lake and back from ShanLinHsi is ok, but that's all.
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