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A frog goes hiking: 合歡西峰 (He huan west peak)

posted by Martin Rubli at 04:38

A frog goes hiking: 合歡西峰 (He huan west peak)

Five years after the last time I finally managed to go to 合歡山 (He huan shan) again to bag the elusive west peak. And because of the constant wind there my frog-colored wind jacket that gave the series its name is back, too! :-)

We arrived early in the morning and first hiked to the 小溪營地 (Xiao xi campsite), which is less than half an hour away from 合歡北峰 (He huan north peak). There's even a shortcut, so that you don't have to carry your luggage all the way to the peak first.

After a quick break putting up the tents I set off for an afternoon hike to 合歡山西峰 (He huan west peak), the only somewhat challenging mountain among the other rather easy-to-reach ones in the 合歡山 (He huan shan) area. It's not that the trail is particularly long or difficult, but the endless series of hills you have to cross to get there. Also, the actual west peak is hidden behind one last hill, so that you can't see your destination until you're almost there. All in all the little hills add up to about 1000 meters of elevation and a bit over 11 km of distance.

Normally, this wouldn't be a big problem with a light backpack but because I wasn't able to eat much for most of the day I felt exhausted on the way back. Luckily I still made it back to the campsite just before sunset and without having to resort to my headlamp.

The second day we only had to get back to the trail head but that proved a challenge for different reasons. Because it happened to be the wildflower season there was an endless stream of people going in both directions, let alone the traffic jam on the road caused by idiots parking their cars along the road with complete disregard of other people. 合歡山 (He huan shan) really is a beautiful area but you might want to avoid it on the weekends in May.


Overview

The red track is the first half of day one, the green track the second half of day one, and the blue track is the second day.


(Click the image for a larger version.)


Elevation charts

合歡北峰登山口 (He huan north peak trail head) to 小溪營地 (Xiao xi campsite):


小溪營地 (Xiao xi campsite) to 合歡西峰 (He huan west peak) and back:


小溪營地 (Xiao xi campsite) to 合歡北峰登山口 (He huan north peak trail head):


GPS track

合歡北峰登山口 (He huan north peak trail head) to 小溪營地 (Xiao xi campsite):

小溪營地 (Xiao xi campsite) to 合歡西峰 (He huan west peak) and back:


Hiking log (day 1 only)

(As always, the altitudes are approximate.)

0825: Departure from 合歡北峰登山口 (He huan north peak trail head), 2950 m
0855: Break near 1.0 km
0955: Continue
1025: Break near microwave reflector, 3340 m
1110: Continue
1140: Arrival at 小溪營地 (Xiao xi campsite)
1240: Departure from 小溪營地 (Xiao xi campsite)
1300: 合歡北峰 (He huan north peak), 3422 m
1335: Lowest point, 3110 m
1420: Highest point, 3230 m
1445: Arrival at 合歡山西峰 (He huan west peak), 3145 m
1510: Departure from 合歡山西峰 (He huan west peak)
1545: Highest point
1645: Lowest point
1805: 合歡北峰 (He huan north peak), 3422 m
1830: 小溪營地 (Xiao xi campsite)


Photos

The entrance to 太魯閣國家公園 (Taroko National Park). It took me over five years since [local:/blog/2010/04/19/a-frog-goes-hiking-he-huan-shan-day-1/ the last time] to return to this lovely place.

The entrance to 太魯閣國家公園 (Taroko National Park). It took me over five years since the last time to return to this lovely place.

The view from 昆陽 (Kun yang) at just over 3000 meters altitude.

The view from 昆陽 (Kun yang) at just over 3000 meters altitude.

The view from 武嶺 (Wu ling).

The view from 武嶺 (Wu ling).

View back to the trail head after just a few steps up towards 合歡山北峰 (He huan shan north peak).

View back to the trail head after just a few steps up towards 合歡山北峰 (He huan shan north peak).

The pointy rock in the foreground has no name but the one in the back is called 中央尖山 (Zhong yang jian shan). :-)

The pointy rock in the foreground has no name but the one in the back is called 中央尖山 (Zhong yang jian shan). :-)

On the way up you can soon see the huge [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_repeater microwave reflector].

On the way up you can soon see the huge microwave reflector.

The view towards the north peak. The ridge on the left is the trail to the west peak.

The view towards the north peak. The ridge on the left is the trail to the west peak.

The view back towards the trail head. On the right you can see 合歡東峰 (He huan east peak).

The view back towards the trail head. On the right you can see 合歡東峰 (He huan east peak).

Hiking with the beautiful 奇萊山脈 (Qi lai mountain chain) in the background.

Hiking with the beautiful 奇萊山脈 (Qi lai mountain chain) in the background.

You can see there are quite a few people hiking already. But this was nothing compared to the second day!

You can see there are quite a few people hiking already. But this was nothing compared to the second day!

Taroko valley in the background.

Taroko valley in the background.

The microwave reflector near the north peak.

The microwave reflector near the north peak.

At this point we took a shortcut directly to the 小溪營地 (Xiao xi campsite), so that we didn't have to carry our backpacks all the way to the top first.

At this point we took a shortcut directly to the 小溪營地 (Xiao xi campsite), so that we didn't have to carry our backpacks all the way to the top first.

The trail towards the 小溪營地 (Xiao xi campsite) ...

The trail towards the 小溪營地 (Xiao xi campsite) ...

... and looking back.

... and looking back.

If you look really closely you can see the campsite with a green tent. That's where we were going to stay the night.

If you look really closely you can see the campsite with a green tent. That's where we were going to stay the night.

杜鵑 (Rhododendron) along the way.

杜鵑 (Rhododendron) along the way.

小溪營地 (Xiao xi campsite).

小溪營地 (Xiao xi campsite).

Three hours later, a very tired hiker on the top of 合歡西峰 (He huan west peak). But the worst was yet to come ...

Three hours later, a very tired hiker on the top of 合歡西峰 (He huan west peak). But the worst was yet to come ...

4.7 kilometers back to the north peak and all you have to do is cross the few hills in between.

4.7 kilometers back to the north peak and all you have to do is cross the few hills in between.

North peak is the one with the rocky slope in the far back!

North peak is the one with the rocky slope in the far back!

The view back from the first hill. 合歡西峰 (He huan west peak) is the one on the left.

The view back from the first hill. 合歡西峰 (He huan west peak) is the one on the left.

You know you're walking but it just doesn't look like the destination is getting any closer.

You know you're walking but it just doesn't look like the destination is getting any closer.

The trail back from the west peak to the north peak.

The trail back from the west peak to the north peak.

(untitled)
One of the (but not the last) hills to climb on the way back.

One of the (but not the last) hills to climb on the way back.

The sunlight fading over 合歡山 (He huan shan).

The sunlight fading over 合歡山 (He huan shan).

小溪營地 (Xiao xi campsite) the next morning.

小溪營地 (Xiao xi campsite) the next morning.

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(untitled)
(untitled)
A small pond on the way back down.

A small pond on the way back down.

Scores of people queuing to get to the top of north peak. It's a good thing we were already on our way down.

Scores of people queuing to get to the top of north peak. It's a good thing we were already on our way down.

This why I will never come here again during flower season!

This why I will never come here again during flower season!

A short peaceful segment of the trail.

A short peaceful segment of the trail.


  1. Thomas Tan says:

    Hi Martin,

    This is a very detailed post and it has certainly excited me to plan a similar trip. Did you contact any agency for this trip? If so are you able to provide me with the agency's contact? As me and my friends are a group of amateur hikers, do you think its possible for us to complete this trip? Hope to hear from you soon. (:

    Regards,
    Thomas Tan

  2. Thomas Tan says:

    Hi Martin,

    This is a very detailed post and it has certainly excited me to plan a similar trip. Did you contact any agency for this trip? If so are you able to provide me with the agency's contact? As me and my friends are a group of amateur hikers, do you think its possible for us to complete this trip? Hope to hear from you soon. (:

    Regards,
    Thomas Tan

  3. Martin says:

    Hi Thomas,

    We just went as a bunch of friends with our own cars; there's really no need for a guide because the trail is signposted and it's next to impossible to get lost (given good weather).

    That being said, the trip all the way to the West peak and back is quite tiring due to its many ups and downs. Unless you're confident about your fitness I'd target the North peak first and see how you feel. Keep in mind that the way back from the West to the North peak is more tiring than the way there.

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