1. When is the best time to climb?
The recommended period to climb Xueshan is during the dry season from October to December. From late December to March, the mountain will be heavily clad in snow and crampons would be needed for the ascent. Another good time to climb is during late spring from May to early June when the mountain is blooming with beautiful wild flowers but is also the plum rain season with occasional light showers. July to September is the typhoon season which contributes to occasional landslides and slippery trails.
2. How does the permit system work?
You need to have 2 types of permits to climb Xueshan; a National Park Entry Permit (issued by the National Park) and a Police Permit (issued by the Police). The National Park Entry Permit is meant for entering Xueba National Park while the Police Permit is meant for entering any high altitude area within the National Park. Application for the National Park Entry Permit has to be submitted to the National Park before the balloting date, which happens one month before your climb date. The Police Permit can be applied on the climb date. As the accommodation at 369 cabin is tied to the National Park Entry Permit; you will be guaranteed a bunk bed space if your National Park Entry Permit application is successful.
3. What is the booking process like?
To increase your chance of getting the National Park Entry Permit, you should book the trip with us as early as possible – at least 2 months before your climb date. We will require 50% deposit to proceed with the National Park Entry Permit application. The permit application result will be known one month before your climb date. If the permit application is successful, you are required to pay the balance payment in full to confirm your climb with us. If the permit application is not successful, we will refund the full 50% deposit back to you.
4. How does the typical hiking itinerary look like?
Day01: In the afternoon, transfer from Taipei to Nan Shan Village (南山村) in Yilan (~5 hrs. drive). Overnight in homestay at Nan Shan Village.
Day02: In the morning, check-out from homestay and proceed to Wuling Farm and the Police Station nearby for the climb registration and the Police Permit application respectively. Proceed to trailhead to start your trek towards 369 Cabin (三六九山莊). Overnight in dormitory at 369 Cabin.
Day03: Wake up early in the morning for the sunrise summit trek. After sunrise, trek back to 369 Cabin for breakfast and check-out. Descend back to the trailhead where your transport will be waiting to fetch you back to Taipei.
5. What are the accommodations like?
Both accommodations in Nan Shan Village and 369 Cabin are dormitory bunk beds styles accommodation with shared toilets.
6. Are sleeping bags provided?
Sleeping bag will only be provided at 369 Cabin while winter blankets will be provided at Nan Shan Village.
7. Are there showers at the lodges?
Hot shower is available at Nan Shan Village. There is no bathing facility at 369 Cabin.
8. Are meals provided during the trek?
All meals will be served in the lodge by the lodge’s kitchen for the whole duration of the trek. Meals are usually Chinese style dishes like porridge, soup noodles, rice with vegetables and meats, etc. However, utensils are not provided and you will have to bring your own utensils (mess tin, fork and spoon).
9. Is drinking water provided during the trek?
There is no water source along the whole trail except at the lodges. Boiled water will be available for top-up at the lodges for free. Please bring along a heat resistant water bottle for the refill.
10. What is the trail’s terrain like?
The trail is well defined and marked with distance markers showing the distance travelled. The total trekking distance from the trailhead to the summit is 10.9km. The trail leading from the trailhead (2180m) to 369 cabin (3100m) is 6.9km long. This section of the trail is moderately steep; mostly gravel path with wooden bridges along the way. The trail from 369 cabin to the summit (3886m) is 4km long. The section of the trail is relatively steep especially the last 500m where some scrambling is required.
11. How long is the trek and how many hours do we trek each days?
The hiking distance and durations are:
Day 01: Trailhead – 369 Cabin – 6.9 km (6 hrs)
Day 02: 369 Cabin – Summit – 369 Cabin – Trailhead 14.8 km (13 hrs)
(Timings are estimated and depended on the individual trekker’s physical stamina and conditions).
12. When is the summit day and how is the climb like?
The summit day is on Day 02 of the trek. You will wake up around 2am for the summit climb. It takes about 4 hrs to reach the summit (for sunrise if you can reach on time) and another 3 hours to descend back to the camp site. If you do not wish to attempt the summit climb, you may stay at the lodge to wait for the summiteers to return.
13. What is the temperature like in the mountains?
Temperatures vary with altitude and seasons. Night temperatures at 369 cabin can be below 0 degree Celsius in winter months while summit temperatures can be below -5 degree Celsius before sunrise.
14. What clothes should l wear for the trek?
A quick dry synthetic material shirt (can be either short or long sleeve) as the base layer, a good quality fleece jacket/woollen pull-over as the middle layer and a thick wind proof jacket as the outer layer. Waterproof and wind- proof trekking pants will be desirable as well as a pair of woollen gloves, beanie and scarf for additional cold protection.
15. What types of footwear are recommended for the trek?
A pair of trekking shoes (that you have worn before) with good traction. Mid or high-cut shoes are preferred over low-cut ones for better ankle grips and to prevent loose soils from getting into the shoes.
16. What is the difficulty level of the trek?
Climbing Xueshan is tough; but anyone in reasonable shape should be able to manage to climb the mountain within 2D1N. You are expected to carry your own personal daypack of 6-8 kilograms. Normal hiking throughout except for some scrambling towards the summit. No rock climbing or technical climbing skills are needed.
17. Do I need trekking sticks for the trek?
Hiking sticks will be useful for providing additional traction when going uphill and reduce strain on joints when going downhill.
18. Do I need any specialized equipment for the trek?
This is a relatively straightforward trek along well defined path except for the summit trek where some scrambling is required to gain your foothold over steep ground. Except for a set of cold wear, a good pair of trekking shoes, a headlamp, trekking sticks and crampons (for winter climb only and will be provided), you do not need other specialized equipment for this trek. Upon booking confirmation, a detailed packing list will be provide to you to help you pack for your trip.
19. What are the training required to get myself prepared for the trek?
Exercise at least twice a week; comprising of either mid-distance jogging (~5km) or stair climbing (~60 stories height) at least 6 weeks in advance should be sufficient to condition your body for the climb. A longer period of conditioning is required for those who are unaccustomed to physical exercise.
20. Where can I store my extra belongings/luggage which I do not wish to carry up the mountain?
You may store your extra belongings/luggage in the vehicle and collect them after your trek.
21. Will porters be provided for the trek?
Porters are not included in our standard itinerary for this trek as you can leave your extra belongings/luggage in the vehicle. However, we can help to arrange for a porter if you require one.
22. How much does it cost to hire porter?
Porters are available for hire but very costly at SGD 600-800 per porter for the whole trip. Each porter can carry up to 25kg, therefore the cost of the porter can be split among the group.
23. Is high altitude sickness a problem for the climb?
Xueshan’s height is high enough for altitude sickness to be of a concern. Refer to the link below for more info on high altitude sickness: its symptoms, prevention and treatment: http://www.traveldoctor.co.uk/altitude.htm
24. Is travel insurance provided in the package?
Travel insurance is not included in the package. We strongly recommend you to procure your own travel insurance before embarking on the Xueshan trip. You may also procure travel insurance through us: http://iwannatravel.com.sg/world-nomads-travel-insurance.
25. Can you pick me up or drop me off at another location instead of Taipei City?
While it is possible to arrange an alternative pick up location, there might be extra transportation cost which we have to pay the driver. Note that Taoyuan airport is located 50km west of Taipei City so there will also be extra cost for direct airport pick up. Just let us know your requirements and we will ensure any additional cost is known up front.
26. Will there be a refund if the climb is cancelled due to weather?
For the safety of hikers, the National Park might cancel or halt the climb in the event of adverse weather (heavy downpour/snow or lightning risk). As this is considered an act of god (out of human control), no refund will be made to the clients.
29. Do you rent hiking sticks and crampons?
Yes, hiking sticks can be rented at SGD 4.8 for one piece and crampons can be rented at SGD 28 for a pair. These will be passed to you before the hike.