Follow my hike up the 3886m-high Xueshan, the second highest peak of Taiwan, in pictures I took myself!
Want to know how my three-day mountain expedition was?
Stay tuned for the exhilarating full story of my very first mountain conquest, in July’s upcoming Issue 88, where I share my perspective, an Amateur Hiker’s Guide to Taiwan’s Xueshan.
Here are my Xueshan companions, an unlikely group hailing from all over the world – Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, France and Singapore.
As the hike begins, I’m already sweating despite the 15 degree weather. Note to self and all potential hikers: dress thinly even if it’s cold when you’re stationary.
Mid-hike, just before the monstrous slope they call Crying Slope, behold dishevelled me alongside the Taiwanese Aboriginals shouldering massive loads, without breaking a sweat.
Our triumphant first peak conquest – I cannot believe I made it up the East Peak, 3201 metres high! At this point, the view’s incredible:
We reach 369 Lodge, little more than a shelter hosting a congregation of hikers, where we spend the next 2 nights. It consists of living quarters, a smelly outhouse and a little cookhouse.
The sparsely furnished interiors of 369 Lodge – 4 sets of wooden platforms for you to lay borrowed sleeping bags.
The cookhouse, where some Taiwanese Aboriginal men make stews over gas canisters and dishes from homegrown vegetables for the hikers’ enjoyment. It’s delicious, by the way!
The next morning, we set off for the Main Peak of Xueshan, up the rocky path from 369 Lodge (see its white cottage rooftops from below the mist).
The Black Forest, an eerie jungle of Taiwanese fir, becomes a tough climb – we have to follow our guide very closely as it is now an unclear path strewn with boulders. I have to abandon my trekking pole at times to use my hands to scale the rocks.
The beautiful glacial cirques, basically a bowl-shaped meadow with pink and white Indian azaleas.
This is the craggy path up to the main peak, that’s completely lost in the fog above. This last stretch is very crumbly, rocky and difficult but the consolation is the flower-peppered view!
And we made it! Not to be dramatic, but this is the biggest achievement thusfar in the entirety of my nineteen years. The first mountain I’ve conquered. It’s also very, very cold up there – the wind could take you off your feet!
The third day, after another night spent in 369 Lodge, we descend against the light drizzle, as the sun rises in a misty morning.