Touching the Gods – Yushan
Yushan, or as it’s known by wiegouren, Jade Mountain, is Taiwan’s tallest mountain. At 3952m it towers over the island like a regent surveying their dominion. And just 40km away, the pacific ocean laps gently against the coast at Chenggong, making the ascent to the summit one of the steepest in the world!
So I know that it’s going to shock you, but you can’t actually ride to the top of Yushan, which means that this post isn’t about cycling!….Although of course it is, because getting your head around just how incredible the height of Yushan is will help you to appreciate just how steep the climbing on the roads around it must be!
Jade Mountain, was originally named Mount Morrison by an American named, you guessed it, Morrison (so creative these American explorers!). In 1895 it was then named Niitakayama by two Japanese anthropologists, meaning “new high mountain”, since it is a good 200m taller than Mt. Fuji.
At 3952m it is a monster of East Asia, second only in height to mount Kinabalu (although speaking as someone 5”11 and a half, I bet that final 48m really winds it up). To put that height in perspective for cyclists, the east coast of Taiwan is less than 40km away from the summit of Yushan, meaning that the average gradient in those mountains is over 10%!
Despite it’s height, it is known for being relatively easy to summit for anyone with a good base level of fitness and a reasonable experience of hiking.The popularity of scaling Yushan over two days has led to the creation of Paiyun Lodge. About a 4-6 hour trek from the entrance to Yushan National Park it is a comfortable if functional place to sleep and eat before continuing to the summit the next day.
The second day’s hiking is usually the most spectacular, and with about 5km to go, the peak will come into view, as well as some stunning vistas of the gorge. These extraordinary views are fairly typical in the central mountains of Taiwan, but Jade Mountain is probably one of the few places that can really rival Taroko Gorge (the route of the Taiwan KOM) for views that will leave you completely breathless!
Strangely enough, the most challenging element of climbing Yushan isn’t the climbing at all, but getting the permit to do so! Of course, you don’t need a permit to see the rest of the mountains of Taiwan, you just need to book on to a Pedal Taiwan King of the Mountains trip!
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