“Twenty more steps…twenty more steps.” That is what I kept telling myself during the last half kilometer of my summit of Snow Mountain. Confused by the name? Snow Mountain has several names, in fact probably more than any other mountain on the island of Taiwan. It was formerly known as Mt. Silvia when Taiwan was under Japanese occupation. Today in pinyin it is Xueshan Mountain.
The main peak is 12,749 ft or 3,886 meters.
Before the hike a few logistics have to be taken care of. To hike Snow Mountain you need two types of permits. The first is to enter the Shei-PA National Park, this also allows one to be able to get a spot to sleep in on of the camp huts along the trail. The second permit is to enter the mountain area itself.
First off, Snow Mountain is one of the most beautiful areas in the whole of Taiwan. Simply put, the views are breathtaking.
Here is a quick recap of the hike:
We met in Taipei and endured the three-hour van ride to the trailhead which included a stop at Yuanshan for some lunch. After making sure all paperwork was complete it was off to Qika lodge. This first part of the hike was short (2k) but rather steep. We had dinner and went to bed around 7PM.
We got up at 2AM, had a quick breakfast and packed our sleeping bags into our rucksacks and set off. After making sure our headlamps were sufficient we began the hike in the quiet of night. The cool, crisp, air provided a nice change of pace from the hot and humid daily life down at sea level in Taiwan. The first 4k brought us to through a heavily wooded area to the “Crying Slope” viewing area. Here we had a great view as the sun slowly rose over the green mountains.
After a few granola bars and some boiled mountain water we set out for the East Peak. This was one of my favorite parts of the trek. Since it was still early morning the mid range temperature made for perfect climbing conditions.
Once at the East Peak we could see the Sanliujiu (369 Lodge). After about an hour hike to the lodge we dropped off our main packs and ate some lunch. Here we re-grouped and got ready to make our summit attempt. The first part of this journey took us through the black forest. Located here are some gigantic Taiwan Firs. They grow straight up and have alot of resin or green mold growing on the bark.
As we progressed in altitude we entered unique flora regions. Coming out of the black forest the final peak comes into view. Around 12,000 ft, trees begin to become fewer and fewer because they cannot grow at this altitude. Probably my favorite view of the trek was the view of the half bowl coming out the black forest. It is truly majestic. (Picture above titled: “Snow Mountain”)
When we reached the summit we took a few pics for posterity and then began our descent back down into the clouds. At the summit we heard thunder and soon found ourselves in the middle of an afternoon downpour. The rain was relentless as it soon formed mini rivers coming down the side of the mountain. With about 4k to go on shaky footing, the descent back to the Sanliujiu shack was easily the low point of the journey. Being up in the mountains it was a cold rain. Finally we reached the shack and got a change of clothes and went to sleep when it got dark around 7PM.
On day three I slept in until 6AM and had a few bamboo shoots for breakfast. It was then time to pack up and begin the last leg of the trip back to the trailhead in wet shoes. The sun was rising slowly and made the last day another chance for some excellent photographs in different lighting than when we came through the east peak on the way up.
From Sanliujiu it took a little over four hours to get back to the trailhead.
This climb was a great experience and just begins to highlight the great mountains and beautiful natural wonders of Taiwan. I highly recommend anyone in Taiwan to think about dong this trek if you are up for a challenge.