Tips for Climbing Hehuanshan West Peak:
- Most people require around 8 hours to complete this hike.
- No permit is needed to climb Hehuan West peak.
- Bring plenty of water or carry a water filter.
- Bring warm clothes and rain gear, as the weather can change at any time on this hike.
- Hiking boots are highly recommended for this hard hike.
- Leave early in the morning and try to come back down before dusk.
- Consider bringing climbing poles as the way down is steep and long.
- You can park your car at the base of Hehuan North peak, but there are only very few spots, so arriving early can be helpful.
West Peak – My Story
As my two good friends and I were looking at the trail map over a feast of Taiwanese snacks at a restaurant in Wushe, we simply had no idea how vicious of a climb Hehuan West peak was going to be. I can still hear my friend Mathieu: “Only 3145m… piece of cake… 5 hours max… looks easy!”
For sure he was optimistic. Pierre and I were a little more reluctant. It had been raining for the past 6 hours in the area, so I proposed to only go if it stopped raining for 15 minutes. It stopped for good after a minute. Thank god it did…
We kicked off our expedition at 22:00 and marched our way up the south slope under a bright milky way. At 23:30 we pitched our tent by the lip of a hairy col, right on top of Hehuan North Peak.
Hehuan West Peak – The climb
The trail starts 3.5 km east of Hehuan Cottage on the left of the highway, and I recommend you get there as early as possible. Hehuan West Peak is a very long climb and you want to be able to do the descent in daylight – the mountain often gets wet and windy in late afternoon.
The path first takes you up to the crest of Hehuan North Peak, which lies at 3422 m. Just below that summit is a broad plateau where you can camp. At that point, you’ll face a crossroad, keep your left.
Things start getting interesting once you pass the north peak. First the views… The north summit is the highest point of your journey and the spectacle is awe-inspiring on all sides. Look to the south and you can even see Yushan (Mt. Jade) in the distance.
From there, the trail plunges along a sharp and steep ridge with fixed ropes. To your right (or left if you’re down climbing facing the slope) is an impressive and intimidating ravine where you wouldn’t want to fall. Stay clear of the edge. Then it’s up and down 4 more humps – sometimes along the exposed hillside, sometimes deep into bamboo forests. Look for wildlife – we saw a gang of monkeys up in some trees.
If the prospect of completing this grueling adventure in a single day doesn’t appeal to you, know that there are two small clearings between the north and west peak where you can spend the night. We did the climb in October and there was water nearby both campsites. A water filter is a must as you can see from this picture…
Once you pass the second campsite, you’ll meet another junction, keep your right. You’re almost there. You’ll be looking around for a rewarding summit, something sharp, something… high… or rocky at least! Nope. Sorry. All there is is a featureless hill that happens to be at the end of the Hehuan chain. And it’s lower than most of what you just hiked. Not even a gust of wind when we were there. But I’m not complaining…
I’m just saying that I think the three of us were feeling: “that’s it?” when we got there. Still… It was a memorable experience in good company and I highly recommend this trip to anyone who’s into hiking!
Have a safe climb!