*Please proceed to the trip at your own discretion, the following content shares our own experience hiking up to the Jade Mountain, accompanied by a professional guide.
Taiwan has one of the highest densities of tall mountains in the world, prompting the Taiwan Alpine Association to develop a Top 100 list of peaks in the 1970s, in effort to promote mountain hiking, given the gifted magnificent landscape on the island.
With the determination to conquer the magnificent Jade Mountain, we signed up as a group of 9 with Jade Mountain Mountaineering Agency, at least 2 months in advance to apply for the permit and to secure spots at Paiyun Lodge. Our package includes one-night stay at the agency for next day’s early morning departure, one-night stay at Paiyun Lodge, one full dinner and two light breakfasts at Paiyun Lodge, and a professional guide who was very friendly.
With little to zero experience of high-mountain hikes, we were unsure if our entire group was going to make it to the summit. One assurance we had was that everyone in the group is moderately active, having gone on frequent low-altitude adventures. So at least we know not to push our bodies too much, with basic knowledge on what feels right to our bodies and what doesn’t. We carefully followed the guide’s instructions for best of our safety throughout the trip.
Below we’ve listed a few things that hikers with minimal high-mountain hiking experience (but physically in good shape) should keep in mind. Few members in the group experienced some discomfort on our way up but it wasn’t unmanageable, we kept close attention to everyone’s wellbeing and successfully conquered the summit as a group. On our last day, feeling eager to get home, we took less breaks and speeded our hike down to Tataka Entrance.
Group size: 9 people + 1 professional guide assigned by the agency.
Average age: Mid-late 20s.
Group experience: Minimal high-mountain hiking experience (half of the group has hiked one or two high-mountains).
Accommodations: One night at the agency near Chiayi Train Station, one night at Paiyun Lodge (Paiyun provides one full dinner upon arrival, two light breakfasts before and after summit). Bring cash for breakfast before heading to Tataka Entrance.
Food: Bring cash for breakfast before heading to Tataka Entrance, two lunches for on-the-go during hikes, some snacks.
Cost: NT$4252 per person (includes two nights of lodging, van ride to and from the agency near Chiayi Train Station to Tataka Entrance, one dinner and two light breakfasts at Paiyun).
Ration your food and water
Water: Fill your hydration bladder (at least 1L). Moderate amount of sports drink (Shupao, Pocari Sweat) is okay, but do not rely on it. Water is the best form of hydration during the hike. Bring enough water for 8.4km hike (Tataka Entrance to Paiyun Lodge), you’ll be able to refill water at the Lodge. But just in case drinking water temporarily runs out at the Lodge, load up a little extra water in your bag.
Food: Make sure to bring enough food for two lunches and some snacks. Bring the RIGHT food, no instant noodles, refined and simple carbs are also not recommended. Your body needs consistent energy to stay warm and maintain strength for the prolonged hike, not something that leaves you sugar crash or jittery after consumption. Calories from clean and natural foods is crucial. We recommend natural nutritional bars, whole wheat/grain bread, dried fruits, and other foods to fuel your body without crashing. Avoid ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup to avoid potential sugar crash that leaves you jittery and tired.
Take deep breaths
“Breathing in through the nose, and out through the mouth” may sound familiar for those of you who practice meditation and yoga. This breathing technique that helps relax your mind also has scientific application to alleviate discomfort from breathing in thin air.
Few of our group members experienced some discomfort (shortness of breath, slight headache) as we were near Paiyun Lodge (altitude 3402m), by slowing down, taking deep breaths, and with some help of canned oxygen, discomfort was soon relieved. Looking out for your group members is key to a safe and pleasant high-mountain hike. If anyone experiences sickness or shows signs of discomfort, alert your professional guide. Signs of acute mountain sickness includes headache, shortness of breath, nausea, fatigue. When not treated properly, it can progress to high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) or high altitude cerebral edema (HACE) which are potentially fatal.
Pace your speed
Don’t feel that you have to rush or as if you’re racing anyone. If you feel out of breath or low on energy, let your members and guide know, any understanding human being will slow down or take a break to help you recover. Shortness of breath and fatigue are a sign of acute mountain sickness and should be well taken care of if that’s the case.
Keep your head warm
At high altitude (Tataka Entrance 3402m- Jade Mountain Summit 3952m), not only was the temperature up to 18 Celsius lower than low altitude, it was also windy. Bring a beanie, fluffy headband, neck-warmer that you can pull up or anything else to cover your forehead will help tremendously to prevent headache from the wind.
Bring canned oxygen
You can get this at outdoor gear shops, we got ours at the agency’s shop. We bought a few just in case of shortness of breath from the thin air. As mentioned previously, it turns out to be helpful for those who experienced some discomfort.
We had so much fun (as always) throughout this trip and couldn’t get enough of it! It was definitely not an easy hike but we enjoyed every bit of it. The beauty of nature was well paid off. We were also blessed with the perfect autumn weather – sunny yet breezy, the sky was clear and did not have a drop of rain. With our group of friends flying in from Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Shanghai, we promised to make a commitment to conquering more 100 Peaks of Taiwan as a group in the future.