Stories from Mike Rogero's travels around the world

I don't know why I just can't stay on one of these things!

This is Yu-Shan from base camp on the front side. This picture is of the trail that winds along the side of the mountain to the top. The one we will climb at 3am in total darkness...

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Surround Photos:
Basecamp Sunset
Yushan Sunrise Travel Stories

Climb Up Yu Shan (Jade Mountain) - The Highest Peak in S.E. Asia
October, 1998

Definitely a stunning view, Yu-Shan and its neighbor Ali-Shan are two of the highest mountains in Asia. Yu-Shan (Jade Mountain) is the highest in Northeast Asia at 3950 meters which is higher then Japan's Mt. Fuji. Its not a hard climb up and setting out from Taipei after work on a Thursday evening, one is up to see the sunrise atop a sea of clouds on Saturday morning.

The climb to the top of Yu-Shan is a pretty easy hike up. Somewhat like what I expect Mt. Fuji to be like - so many tourists that it's been made "doable" even by grandma. Its a long walk, at a reasonable grade, but slow and easy will get you to base camp.

This trip was for the "guys", two of my colleagues, Brent Hienrich, David Toman and my roommate Pete Abraham. We left Taipei on a bus Friday night and had a great early morning view of the Taiwan mountains to greet the start of the walk.

It was a long but rather easy walk up to the base. We spent the evening at about the 3,000 meter mark so we were above most of the surrounding mountains and were treated to a spectacular sunset. (Click on the surround video icon to see for your self). We also had a clear view of the face of Yu-Shan that we would be climbing. Fortunately when we set off the next morning, it was pitch black otherwise climbing up this very steep pitch in the daytime would have been more then a little disconcerting! Actually it would have been downright terrifying! The walk up was at 3am so it was OK but upon reaching the top and looking down on the sheer face that we had just climbed, well lets say we didn't dwell on that view very long!

Reaching the top at about 5am, we were sitting there shivering our butts off waiting for the darn sunrise. Amusing how it wasn't long before most of us were even pushing the sun to move a little faster, darn cold up there! However, the sun breaking over the ridge of distant mountains and lighting up the morning "sea of clouds" with a million different colors was amazing and worth both the wait and the walk.

However, while most of the people on the ridge were satisfied with just the sunrise, our group weren't even to the beginning of the good part. We took a trail toward BaDaGuan down what is known as the backside of Yu-Shan as opposed to retracing our steps. This path - if it could even be called that - is no more then a few foot wide few foot wide footpath running along the side of a mountainside jungle. We had to walk for a full two days this way but as I said, nothing to this point could compare to the beauty of this trail. Basically cut into one side of a "V" the trail wound slowly back to the base of the mountains. You can tell from the picture of Pete that we were clearly enjoying the walk.

After a good six hours of walking down the valley, we came upon an incredible flat field of flowers and grass . One of the sweetest naps one could ask for quickly enveloped all of us as we lay in the flowers and let our more then weary legs rest.

The end of the trip came when we came upon a little corrugated steel shack selling a cold jelly desert made from a local fruit. The proprietor was one of the more colorful characters on the trip and made a bet that if anyone could drink 12 bowls of the jelly, then all would be free. Like a river gambler he knew just how to rope them in. Here I am after just walking through a hot jungle for two days, being completely parched and being given a challenge to drink 12 bowls and have all of them free sounds like the easiest thing in the world.

Well bowl one and two definitely were no problem, three and four started getting tough but as another group of travelers had just come down from the mountain, mostly young pretty girls I had to give a good showing and those bowls were definitely finished by the male ego.

The 5th and 6th were a different story though. Seems this drink expands when it is in your stomach and I started feeling a little like a pigeon at a wedding party... the rice all seemed so small while I was eating it but my stomach felt it was going to explode. So much for the male ego, I had to bow my head and wobble out of the hut to the jeers of my colleagues, of course not before paying our toothless and smiling proprietor for 7 bowls of Yutu.

Copyright ©1995-2004 by Mike Rogero