Jade Mountain – Yushan 爬玉山
LINKS ABOUT CLIMBING JADE MOUNTAIN
Climbing Jade Mountain (also called Yushan-Chinese: 玉山; pinyin: Yùshān ) has become a “must do” for both Taiwanese locals and visitors alike. The Yushan National Park has created a well laid out system or trails, maps, markers, food, lodging, and a permit system to allow more hikers to experience this great hike and peak the highest mountain in east Asia.
Jade Mountain consists of 11 mountain peaks with the highest, the Main Peak standing at 3952 meters. Other peaks include 4 South Peaks, North Peak, North North Peak, West Peak, Front Peak and East Peak. All of these peaks are over 3,000 meters and are part of Taiwan’s 100 mountain list.
Mt. Jade receives its name due to the fact that during the winter season, Jade Peak is often snow capped with thick snow which makes the entire peak shine like stainless jade.
How to Get Up Jade Mountain – Step by Step
Jade Mountain is a moderately difficult trek. It isn’t very steep except for the final ascent. The total elevation climb goes from 2,600 meters at the Tatajia Saddle to 3,952 meters at the peak. The distance is 8.2 kilometers to the Paiyun Lodge and then an additional 1.2 kilometers to the peak. The trail is very well laid, out, mostly gradual, and easy to walk on. This is a major reason why many Taiwanese and visitors are able to make it to the peak regardless of their hiking experience.
Hikers need 2 permits to enter and climb any mountain in Yu Shan National Park. One permit is the mountain permit from the Yu Shan National Park office and the other permit is from the local police station. Both checkpoints for each permit are at the entrance to the park at the Tatajia Saddle.
Getting the mountain permit can be tricky. Yushan National Park has an English website, and if all goes well, you can apply and get your permit. The site has a step by step description of the process to get the permit. You will need an ARC or passport, emergency information, and proof that you have experience climbing high peaks. This includes uploading a photo and date of your ascent. However, if you go with a group and a guide, you won’t need this proof. Be aware that climbing Jade Mountain has become very popular and getting a weekend booking at the Paiyun Lodge (limits 92) can be hard to get. Better to be part of a group.
Weekdays have fewer applicants.If you have a foreign passport, you may have a better chance of getting a bed. The park sets aside 24 spots for foreign passports from Mondays to Thursdays. You can apply 4 months in advance but decisions are made (by lottery) 30 days beforehand. You can check the website and you will also receive an email to see if you were accepted. Click on the link below for more information on the Jade Permit…
The police permit is much easier to obtain except that it is entirely in Chinese. Basically, they ask for your route, dates, and personal information. If you can’t read Chinese, you won’t be able to do this online, however, you can apply at the police station checkpoint. It may take a little time and you’ll need copies of your information. So bring your passport or ARC.
Also, it seems that some hikers who have applied and gotten permits as a foreigner, have automatically received the police permit via email. This saves a lot of hassle for non Chinese speaking visitors. If you do get this, print it out and you’ll be good to go.
Once you receive your permit, you can print it out 6 days before your hiking date. Also, you can book your meals for Paiyun Lodge 1 week before by filing out a form and sending it to the email on the website.
Pictured below, the police and national park checkpoints. Getting a permit is important. There is a record of
your entrance to the park. In addition, there is insurance from the park if you need to be rescued or helicoptered out. If something unfortunate happens and you don’t have a permit, it could mean a big fine and
additional rescue charges.
Can’t get a permit? &…1 or 2 Day Trek Options
If you can’t get a permit yourself, the best way to get up Jade is to go with a organized group. Every city has groups that take Jade trips and usually there is information online or at camping/recreation stores.
Blue Skies Adventures has English speaking guides who can apply for permits and bring hikers up Jade (and other peaks) several times a year.
If you are opting for a 2 day trek up Jade, you will need to apply 30-45 days in advance. This is because you will stay one night in the Paiyun Lodge which has limited bunk space and will prepare food for you. If you don’t have a reservation, you can’t get in.
One day permits are easy to obtain. You only need to apply 7 days or more in advance. It is a long day to the top and back, but very doable. You can’t stay in the Paiyun Lodge with a 1 day permit. 1 day permits also allow trekkers to climb some of the other peaks in Yushan National Park.
Tatajia Saddle to Paiyun Lodge- Starting the hike
Hikers will be up before dawn and ready to go at the Tatajia Saddle. The Tatajia Saddle is on Route 18 which is the road that takes you past Alishan. Route 18 begins right off the exit on National Highway 3. The Tatajia entrance is about 20 minutes farther up the mountain past Alishan. There is plenty of parking and bathroom facilities to prep for your hike. Some groups will arrive here in the middle of the night, set up tents in the parking lot, and then get up at sunrise to enter the park.
The road starts out as pavement and leads up to the permit checkpoints. After, there is a 1.8 kilometer walk along a paved road to the trailhead. The road has pretty views , a beautiful old tree, and restrooms. Signage is ample and clear.
Pictured below, the initial road to the trailhead and the famous old tree.
Hiking the trail to Paiyun Lodge
Once arriving at the trailhead, hikers can take some nice photos of the Yushan Mountain range and begin the 8.2 kilometer trek to Paiyun Lodge where most will stay the night. The walk usually takes hikers 5-8 hours depending on the weather and your fitness.
On clear days, the views are stunning and it’s no wonder why everyone wants to hike here. The trail starts with a semi-steep swtich back, but once at the top, it becomes a gradual climb.
Pictured below, a rest stop for Dr. Monroe who fell off the ridge many years ago and died. A waterless bathroom which smells terrible.
Once you have reached Paiyun Lodge, hopefully mid afternoon, you can relax your legs, take a nap, and have a meal. Food is prepared for the evening at set times. Hikers are given a bunk assignment. There are bathrooms to freshen up as well.
Hikers will go to bed quite early because most will be up at 2:00 am to start the final 2 hour ascent to the peak. This will give most people ample time to see the sunrise on a clear day.
The Final Ascent To the Peak of Jade Mountain
If you want to see the sunrise, it’s well worth it, you need to leave Paiyun no later than 2:30. It will be cold and dark, so hikers need to use their head lamps to navigate up the treacherous and narrow path. The path is cut into the side of the mountain so it sometimes resembles loose shale. There are usually many people so you may have to wait or let others pass by.
The final 50 meters are very steep. You will need gloves to hold onto metal chains and pull yourself up. It is the most daunting part of the hike, however, the peak is only minutes away.
Once at the peak, enjoy the view and fresh air. There is a stone marker where everyone poses to show their evidence of the ascent.
Congratulations, you made it!!! East Asia’s highest peak.
OTHER TAIWAN 100 MOUNTAIN PEAKS: