AdventureHescape: Snow Mountain

8 04 2012
Monday, 9 April 2012
Taiwan, ASIA

Here are 5 interesting things to consider when preparing for a successful summit chances on Snow Mountain, locally known as  Syue Mountain with 10.9 km trail, standing at 3886m asl, located  at Shei-Pa National Park:

1.  Have a shared goal. Even when you travel with your real friends (please see my post on Banahaw de Lucban >> https://adventureh.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/adventurehescape-mt-banahaw-de-lucban/) but you do not share the same vision, it will be impossible for the whole team to have a successful summit. If having the same goal has been established from the very beginning, chances are all members of the team will do their own preparation from physical, mental, spiritual and or even financial. You always therefore need to keep time management. Remember your objective is to summit and descend safely. So, “climb high but camp low”. Although Snow Mountain is not a very technical hike, this was my longest 10.9 km. On a normal running, 10km is only  45 minutes to 1 hr or so only. But Snow Mountain will take you multi-day with some challenges on the elevation, weather and backpack loading.

2. At least ONE month logistical arrangement from permits (Park and Mountain entries), to transportation (both land from Taipei to the jump off called Wuling Farm and air from your home country to Taipei), hotel (within Taipei) and cabin (within Shei-Pa National Park) bookings and visa requirements.  It would be better to hook up with an accredited mountain guide for your permits, otherwise, you will not be allowed to hike up. If you are a non-Taiwanese speaker, make sure that your guide or travel agency knows both English and the local language. The permits could be arranged from this site – http://www.spnp.gov.tw

With regard to the cabin booking, there are only 2 cabins where you could stay on the mountain – Cika and 369. The same travel agency will process the cabin bookings since the dates to enter and leave the areas as well as the locations to stay overnight are the mandatory information needed when applying the Mountain Permit to MIO’s National Police Agency or local police stations. If you opt to look for a travel agency than DIY do it yourself, they too will handle the land transfers from Taipei city to the jump off, Wuling farm. Jump off is where you will start hiking up the mountain.

For your flight arrangements specially if you leave OUTSIDE the country, the earlier you book, the more economical. The hotel booking on the other hand may be done from your end or you may too request your travel agency to do it for you. But, of course expect the possibility to have an extra transaction item on your billing statement. Another but most important factor is how you pay your chosen travel agency. Make sure you are ready to pay extra charges for the bank transfer or even on-line payment.

3. Choose the itinerary that suits your needs. If possible, climb on a weekday to avoid congestion in one of the cabins. There are more weekend hikers than during the rest of the week. As to the time management, the earlier you hike, the better chances for a 100% summit. Choose the time of actual hike depending on your physical and mental capabilities. You could do night trekking on the first day, but expect longer hours on trail.

Although Snow has an established trails with well-posted signages (from trail signs, to actual number of kilometers to the next trail up to the scientific names of the flora abound), there are still some part on the trail where you need to be cautious like that of Black Forest.  Day trekking is more advisable since the place is so scenic and good for photo opportunities.

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Snow has its own unique weather. It rains normally from 14:00 onwards. Good thing we had poncho and umbrella otherwise we would have hiked in the rain! Best month to hike will depend on your physical capabilities. More snow, more challenging. Therefore, if you will be coming from a tropical climate, October may be best for you.

4. Meal plan that will motivate you throughout the hike. Make sure that you know what you will be eating. Check whether the food will give you the energy booster that your body needs. If the food will still allow you to adjust, then, think of another food group. For instance, if you are a rice eater, then suggest a menu good with rice. Otherwise, you will end up eating the food that you might not be happy with and would eventually affect your pacing in reaching your Snow Mountain goal. Therefore, better have at least a little of your “comfort food”

5. Bring proper  light gear. Make sure you have with you warm clothes, a poncho and or umbrella for the rain and for the ultraviolet radiation. The ultraviolet radiation is more stronger in this altitude. Your checklist should then include: minimum 40 L backpack, rain cover, sturdy hiking shoes, gaiters (for the rain), mountain stick/trekking pole (to support your knee and for better balance while on trail, but remember to use the stick before you step to maximize the use of the pole), fleece, raincoat, thermal wear, insulated pants, jacket, gloves for protection against the cool weather, at least 0 deg sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, headlamp or torch, toiletries and earplug to manage noise of the other hikers around during the night. Clarify with your travel agency the loading of food, your own gear whether a porter is needed or not.

SAMPLE ITINERARY (Overall elevation: 3886 m asl, 10.9 km trail, 3 days and 2 nights):
Day 1:
(1 hr hike from jump-off then overnight stay at Cika cabin; ascending 607 m asl. The time below is dependent on the permit that your travel agency will be able to arrange. If your ETD Taipei will be in the afternoon, it therefore follows that your ETA Cika cabin will be late as well)
08:00 ETD Taipei (Have an early breakfast before the meeting place. Buy pack lunch along the road. Travel passing through an impressive mountain tunnels and you may start counting the kilometer per bay so that you could avoid having claustrophobia even before you start your hike )
12:00 ETA Wuling Farm and process permit. Have lunch while the travel agency process the permit. (The late President Chiang Ching-kuo named the farm as Wuling in 1963. It is a valley with an altitude of 1740m asl, very rich in natural resources).
14:00 Start hiking (This will be a 1 hr hike up to Cika cabin, with an elevation of 2,463 m asl. Enjoy seeing vegetation around. See the Formosan alder- Alnus japonica, one of the principal species in the area. Trail is a gentle uphill with wooden stairs-like trail through a pine forest line)
15:00 ETA Cika cabin and spend the night (This will form part of your acclimitization. Enjoy the view from the platform where you could see the Wuling area and Central Mountain range. This large wooden cabin is bigger than the next 369. This could accommodate up to 130 hikers and have a generally clean separate bathrooms and wash-up area for boys and girls. The kitchen has tables and chairs for hikers while comfortably filling up their stomach! Mind you though that detergents for washing dishes are not permitted. Water is abundant here but boil it if you are not used to mountain water).
 
Day 2: (4 hr-hike up to the next cabin – 369 then 4 hrs hike up to the summit)
03:00 – Wake up call (Have light breakfast)
04:00 – ETD Cika cabin (Prepare yourself to the few hundred meter steep section of the hike called “Crying Slope” with about 75-85 degree then enjoy the established grass trail where you could see “helipad”. This helipad was built as an access path during medical emergencies or disasters.
08:00- ETA 369 cabin (Cool down, recover energy while you enjoy the view.  Not advisable to stay overnight here since rodents are mostly seen and could be irritant for most hikers. This cabin could accommodate 100 people but with a very uncomfortable sleeping condition for its cramp wooden bunk beds and limited bathrooms built outside the main hut. The kitchen too is located outside the main hut. And the biggest table does not even have roofing. Therefore, when you need to go to the bathroom, kitchen and even use the biggest table specially if your group is more than 5, you could either be exposed to the rain or other weather elements.)
09:00 – ETD 369 cabin (Hike on an open “wind chill” winding road and prepare yourself to see Black Forest, the most beautiful abies forest zone I have ever seen so far. This is the name referring to the mountain areas between 3100 m and 3600 m with cold-temperate region and vegetation of sub-alpine coniferous alpine forest type. While you traverse a path, enjoy seeing High mountain juniper, Juniperus squamata. But be self conscious since this is the portion where you could easily get lost. The trail may be tricky as you peel off your layering like I did. It was a mixture of feeling cold and “melting” on trail as I perspired while saturating my energy. )
13:00- ETA Snow Mountain summit 3886 m asl
1330 – ETD summit and start descending
20:00- ETA Cika cabin (Spend the night and recover energy while your travel agency prepares a meal for you.)
 
Day 3: (1 hr ascend back to the jump off)
06:00 – Wake up call (Have breakfast)
07:00 – ETD Cika cabin, start descending. Once again, feel secure by the unpainted picket fences as support installed at the end of the main path 
08:00-  ETA Jump-off
13:00 – ETA Taipei
 
BUDGET: Air fare (9K PHP,+/-200 USD/), Guide (15K PHP, +/- 350 USD) Others: food, hotel
HOW TO GET THERE:  Book your flight from your home country to Taipei. You could either catch the bus from Taipei Station direct to Wuling farm. Go to the East 3 entrance on or before 07:20 am. The trip is about 4 hours. The same bus company goes back to Taipei station on or before 14:00. Better yet, discuss with your chosen travel agency a private vehicle bound to Wuling.
 
NOTE: Snow Mountain is a must see in Taiwan. Aside from being the 2nd highest in Taiwan and a little lower than Yushan/Jade Mountain 3952 m asl, the highest in Eastern Asia, Snow gives a different perspective in hiking.
This entry is related to >> https://adventureh.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/next-adventureh-liciousness/ h
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4 responses

6 09 2013
Erwin

Hi,
May I ask of any travel agency here in the Philippines who can arrange our trip to Taipei and Snow Mountain. We are planning to go there by November. Thanks!

7 09 2013
adventureh

Hi,
There’s no local travel agency in the Philippines as of this writing yet.
We connected with a British-owned agency based in Taiwan but there were quite a number of challenges.
It would be better if you will be able to liaise directly with a local Taiwanese company (with English speakers).
My friends and I will hike up again this coming February 2014 with local Taiwanese. November is too cold for us.
Good luck and thanks for swinging by my blog 🙂 !

11 02 2014
Weng Mangyan

Hi,

We will be hiking snow mountain this March any day between 27-30. Would be glad if you can share your guide contact with us. There’s just the 2 of us from Manila.

🙂
Weng Mangyan

27 04 2014
adventureh

hi weng, apologize for the super late reply. anyhow, i do not recommend our guide to you. better LOCAL guides

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