Situated in the central part of the island nation of Taiwan, Mount Yushan is one of the highest mountains in East Asia, making it a great climbing destination in the region. Standing at about 3,952 meters, Mount Yushan has 11 steep peaks, and is known for its deep valleys, sunrises, sunsets and overall stunning landscape scenery.
Climbing Mount Yushan (also called Jade Mountain) is a memorable experience but it also requires preparation in terms of logistics and physical stamina. The main entrance to the Mount Yushan trailhead is situated at the Tataka Visitor Center, close to the Upper DongPu parking lot by Expressway 21. There is a lodge in the parking lot where most climbers stay for the night to acclimatize to the weather and temperature. From this spot, you need to hike 2.8 kilometers to reach the trailhead. If you want to save time during the day, you can take a shuttle service to the trailhead.
The trailhead, which is 11 kilometers long, leads to the main peak of Yushan. During this journey, expect an elevation change of about 1,400 meters. Hikers are expected to take extra precaution as the trail is relatively narrow. Once close to the summit, the path becomes very steep that you will need to grab a cable to make your way to the top.
The trail is clearly marked and there are even some interpretatives along the way, providing bits of information about the geology, flowers, trees and other plants in the area. There is another summit route that starts from Tongpu and goes 23 kilometers all the way up. It is possible to reach the summit of Mount Yushan all in one day, but the hiking trip would last about 12 hours. You will need to leave the Upper DongPu parking lot at 3:30AM. Take note that you will have to be in good physical condition to be allowed to do the day hike.
You can also divide your Yushan climbing experience into two days to have enough rest and time for altitude acclimatization. After climbing the trailhead for 8.5 kilometers, a number of climbers do an overnight at Paiyun Lodge, which is at an elevation of 3402 meters and situated on the western slope of Yushan Main Peak. This recently renovated Paiyun Lodge is always busy; so make sure to make a reservation at least a month ahead. A number of climbers prefer to leave early in the morning on the second day of the mountain climb to reach the summit in time for the sunrise. On a clear day, you will get panoramic views of the Taiwan Strait and the Pacific Ocean.
The main access points to Yushan are the cities of Chiayi and Taichung. From these places, you can take a bus or train service to the Tataka Recreation Area. The best time to climb Mount Yushan is during dry season, which is from October to December. An entrance permit needs to be purchased from the Yushan National Park to climb the mountain, and an application is available online.
If you’re a seasoned climber, you may the climb Yushan on your own provided you have the necessary equipment including ropes, hooks and altitude sickness medicine. You can also hire an experienced guide or tour company to assist you. Most tour companies provide transport as well as arrange accommodation, food and the itinerary.