Climbing for the adrenaline junkie

Steep cliffs, rope-climbs, small footholds? Bring it on.

Knowing I’m in Taiwan for the climbing, there’s a question that I get very often — “How’s the hiking in Taiwan? Is it really THAT fun?”. Rather than tell you YES a hundred times, let me share with you an exhilarating trek I did last week at 平溪(新北市)。

I joined a random meetup group for an impromptu hike and over 6 hours, we covered 5 mountains on the Dongshige trail (東勢格越嶺步道) — 臭頭山,中央尖,慈母峰,普陀山,孝子山。Some of these mountains had been on my radar for a while cos of their high adrenaline factor, so I was super excited, and thankfully I wasn’t disappointed.

Rather than keep yakking, I’ll let the pictures do the talking —

Taking the 8.30am 台灣好行 shuttle 795 from 木柵捷運 to 平溪國中(50mins, be prepared to stand all the way)
The route along 東勢格 trail we took (marked out in pink) that brought us along 臭頭山,中央尖,慈母峰,孝子山,普陀山
Gorgeous bamboo and moss-ridden trails to get you warmed up
Sights along the way — random stone arch, disused stone house (廢棄房舍) and disused tunnel full of water (廢棄礦坑)
Arching bamboo forests (always makes me think of Kungfu Panda)
Wet slippery stone riverbed (one of us fell here and cracked her phone screen!)
Lush green mossy stones
Very-blue berries strewn along the trail that we considered eating (not)
Fun rope trails that lead you up to the top of 中央尖 (580m)
Narrow ridges of 中央尖 with its spectacular 360 views
Unusually good weather gave us clear views of faraway mountain ranges
Super-fun rope section!
So blue girl (say hi to Emily!) is stepping on very smooth and steep cliff face. Apparently there used to be 2 wooden planks there but they’d broken off, so we had to cling on for dear life and stretch our legs as far as they could go
Slightly better when there are steps
Another fun rope section down a steep cliff face
Cliff face was full of big gaping natural holes (rock-climb anyone?)
My absolute favourite rope section of the day — free-climb!
Last climb towards the peak of 慈母峰
And we’re there!
View of 普陀山 from 慈母峰,that’s where we’re going next!
Stairway up 普陀山
Kind stranger who stayed on 慈母峰 to take a picture for us — 曾先生感恩喔!
Ladder section towards the peak
View of 孝子山 from the peak — guess what, we’re going there next!
Passing by a cave temple with lots of carved 觀音 statues
Silhouette of a climber going up 孝子山, excites!
Easy flight of steps to start with…
…more steps…
… and a rope section that I really wanted to climb but our leader gave a firm NO cos I guess it wasn’t safe :(
So we went around the mountain where there was a ladder and more carved steps
Peak of 孝子山 and the previous group of climbers who decided to make the descent backwards
Well it does look pretty scary…
Spotting a nice spot of 芒花 on the way back to the bus-stop
Did I also mention 平溪 is the place of sky lanterns? This is where you come to 放天燈!

After 6 hours of climbing, spotting 7–11 and grabbing some food was absolute heaven. Thanks to the great planning of our team leader Dory, we waited barely 5 mins for the shuttle back to Taipei city (some of us even got seats this time). Unbelievable you can get such awesome treks just an hour away from the city!

All in all it wasn’t exactly a tough climb — tedious but not technical or extremely strenuous. In fact the adrenaline-pumping rope/ladder/ridge sections energised me and I just wanted to keep going.

Which is kinda how I’d describe most treks in Taiwan — very do-able and very rewarding. Great way to spend a Thursday!