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A frog goes hiking: 玉山前峰 (Yu shan front peak)

posted by Martin Rubli at 14:41

The front peak of 玉山 (Yu shan), Taiwan's tallest mountain, is not a popular destination among hikers here. For one thing it's about 700 meters shorter than its big brother. For another it's very steep and with a somewhat limited view on the way up. Our main goal, however, was to get a bit of exercise in aspiration of more challenging peaks, so it would do just fine.

Just like for our last hike in the area to 郡大山 (Jun da shan) last October we stayed overnight in 望鄉 (Wang xiang), about 1.5h away by car. Because this was going to be a relatively short hike it was okay to leave a little later than usual in the morning. Still, if I were to hike this peak again I'd try to stay somewhere closer, just to reduce the risk of being beaten to the top by fog and getting caught in afternoon showers on the way down.

Apparently the two of us leading the way walked a little too fast and missed the turnoff towards the peak. It took about half an hour for us to get suspicious and actually checking the map. But after all we were there for the exercise, so why not get a bit extra!


Overview

The blue path is 台21線, the road we drove in the morning from 望鄉 (Wang xiang) to 塔塔加 (Ta ta jia). The purple path is the shuttle from 塔塔加 (Ta ta jia) to the 塔塔加鞍部登山口 (Ta ta jia sattle trail head) and the green path the hike itself.


(Click the image for a larger version.)


Elevation chart

塔塔加鞍部登山口 (Ta ta jia sattle trail head) to 玉山前峰 (Yu shan front peak) and back to 塔塔加 (Ta ta jia)



GPS track


Hiking log

(As always, the altitudes are approximate.)

0950: Departure from 塔塔加 (Ta ta jia) by shuttle
0957: Arrival at the 塔塔加鞍部登山口 (Ta ta jia sattle trail head)
1000: Departure from 塔塔加鞍部登山口 (Ta ta jia sattle trail head), 2620 m
1040: 孟祿亭 (Monroe Pavilion), 2800 m
1110: Passed 玉山前峰登山口 (Yu shan front peak trail head) without noticing, 2855 m
1145: Turned around at ca. 4.5 km, 2960 m
1210: Back at 玉山前峰登山口 (Yu shan front peak trail head), 2855 m
1255: 玉山前峰 (Yu shan front peak), 3239 m
1340: Descent
1420: 玉山前峰登山口 (Yu shan front peak trail head), 2855 m
1450: Back at 塔塔加鞍部登山口 (Ta ta jia sattle trail head), 2620 m
1525: Back at 塔塔加停車場 (Ta ta jia parking lot), 2570 m


Photos

谷爐巴民宿 (Kulupa homestay) where we spent the night before our hike.

谷爐巴民宿 (Kulupa homestay) where we spent the night before our hike.

It's a nice place with a good view but it's about 1-2 hours away from 塔塔加 (Ta ta jia), depending on how lucky you are with traffic and getting through construction sites.

It's a nice place with a good view but it's about 1-2 hours away from 塔塔加 (Ta ta jia), depending on how lucky you are with traffic and getting through construction sites.

The view from 塔塔加 (Ta ta jia) with 大塔山 (Da ta shan) in the center.

The view from 塔塔加 (Ta ta jia) with 大塔山 (Da ta shan) in the center.

The parking lot at 塔塔加 (Ta ta jia) and the road up towards the trail head.

The parking lot at 塔塔加 (Ta ta jia) and the road up towards the trail head.

The 塔塔加鞍部登山口 (Ta ta jia sattle trail head) where most ascents to the various peaks of 玉山 (Yu shan) start. There's a convenient shuttle from the parking lot to here. It's around 35-40 minutes on foot but less than 10 minutes by shuttle. So to shave off some time (afternoon showers!) we decided to spend the 100 TWD per person.

The 塔塔加鞍部登山口 (Ta ta jia sattle trail head) where most ascents to the various peaks of 玉山 (Yu shan) start. There's a convenient shuttle from the parking lot to here. It's around 35-40 minutes on foot but less than 10 minutes by shuttle. So to shave off some time (afternoon showers!) we decided to spend the 100 TWD per person.

The trail to 排雲山莊 (Pai yuan mountain lodge) is about 8.5 km long but the trail towards 玉山前峰 (Yu shan front peak) branches off at around 2.6 km.

The trail to 排雲山莊 (Pai yuan mountain lodge) is about 8.5 km long but the trail towards 玉山前峰 (Yu shan front peak) branches off at around 2.6 km.

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The view back towards the 塔塔加鞍部 (Ta ta jia sattle).

The view back towards the 塔塔加鞍部 (Ta ta jia sattle).

Most of the path is quite easy to walk, which partly explains the scores of people you'll encounter here on a typical weekend day.

Most of the path is quite easy to walk, which partly explains the scores of people you'll encounter here on a typical weekend day.

The view towards the valley leading to 那瑪夏 (Na ma xia) in the north east of 高雄 (Gao xiong).

The view towards the valley leading to 那瑪夏 (Na ma xia) in the north east of 高雄 (Gao xiong).

Looking south-east we see 玉山南峰 (Yu shan south peak, 3844 m) near the center right below the cloud and 玉山小南峰 (Yu shan small south peak) in the right third.

Looking south-east we see 玉山南峰 (Yu shan south peak, 3844 m) near the center right below the cloud and 玉山小南峰 (Yu shan small south peak) in the right third.

Most of the trail looks something like this ...

Most of the trail looks something like this ...

... and every so often you'll encounter a few remarkable dead trees on the side of the trail.

... and every so often you'll encounter a few remarkable dead trees on the side of the trail.

The view of 玉山前峰 (Yu shan front peak), which we would climb later. You can clearly see the main trail along the mountain. The trail up to the peak cuts straight up through that little patch of forest.

We walked an extra hour just to snap this picture! (Okay, I made that up. We really just missed the turnoff.)

The view of 玉山前峰 (Yu shan front peak), which we would climb later. You can clearly see the main trail along the mountain. The trail up to the peak cuts straight up through that little patch of forest.

We walked an extra hour just to snap this picture! (Okay, I made that up. We really just missed the turnoff.)

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The beginning of the trail to 玉山前峰 (Yu shan front peak) that we had missed.

The beginning of the trail to 玉山前峰 (Yu shan front peak) that we had missed.

The path up is super steep but the view is not bad at all.

The path up is super steep but the view is not bad at all.

Another view down towards the valley, this time from higher up.

Another view down towards the valley, this time from higher up.

The fog beat us to the top, so the only thing to do was to take the obligatory peak bagging photo and have lunch.

The fog beat us to the top, so the only thing to do was to take the obligatory peak bagging photo and have lunch.


A frog goes hiking: 郡大山 (Jun da shan)

posted by Martin Rubli at 15:16

Not too far away from 玉山 (Yu shan), Taiwan's highest mountain, is 郡大山 (Jun da shan), the 61th-highest mountain. While that isn't spectacular I like this mountain because most of the trail isn't buried under a dense forest with no view, but along the ridge, so you can enjoy the view for almost the entire time.

It's also not a difficult mountain to hike. The tiring part is getting to the trail head: 32 kilometers of windy concrete and gravel road with potholes that send your head bumping against the ceiling! And when you're exhausted it's the same ordeal in reverse.

Regardless, it's well worth the trouble and when I go back there I'll try to make sure it's not after a weeklong flu that left me with enough energy to hike to the top but not enough to hike comfortably down. :-)


Overview


(Click the image for a larger version.)


Elevation chart

32k工寮 trail head to 郡大山 (Jun da shan) and back



GPS track


Hiking log

(As always, the altitudes are approximate.)

0800: Departure from the 郡大林道 (Jun da forest trail) 0 km mark.
0955: Arrival at the 32k工寮 trail head, 2860 m
1005: Departure from the trail head, 2860 m
1025: 望鄉山 (Wang xiang shan), 3007 m
1150: 郡大山北峰 (Jun da shan North peak), 3241 m
1230: 郡大山 (Jun da shan), 3265 m
1410: Departure
1455: 郡大山北峰 (Jun da shan North peak)
1600: 望鄉山 (Wang xiang shan)
1615: Back at the trail head


Photos

The entrance to 郡大林道 (Jun Da Forest Road) where everyone gets stuck until the official in charge peels himself out of bed and presses a button.

The entrance to 郡大林道 (Jun Da Forest Road) where everyone gets stuck until the official in charge peels himself out of bed and presses a button.

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The newly built 台21線 (highway 21) towards 望鄉 (Wang xiang) where we had spent the night.

The newly built 台21線 (highway 21) towards 望鄉 (Wang xiang) where we had spent the night.

Finally through the gate it's a bumpy ride.

Finally through the gate it's a bumpy ride.

Every so often the forest clears up a bit and you can see the beautiful view.

Every so often the forest clears up a bit and you can see the beautiful view.

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Shortly after the 22.5 km mark we took a little break.

Shortly after the 22.5 km mark we took a little break.

The obligatory temple along the way. :-)

The obligatory temple along the way. :-)

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Apparently I was too shaken to take a picture of the trail head but about an hour later we got off the bus and started hiking. The first landmark on the way is this little weather station.

Apparently I was too shaken to take a picture of the trail head but about an hour later we got off the bus and started hiking. The first landmark on the way is this little weather station.

Most of the trail leads through shrubs and tall grass.

Most of the trail leads through shrubs and tall grass.

The absence of trees on the ridge makes for great views all around.

The absence of trees on the ridge makes for great views all around.

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In the distance you can already see 玉山 (Yu shan).

In the distance you can already see 玉山 (Yu shan).

The trail ahead ...

The trail ahead ...

... and behind.

... and behind.

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Every so often the path leads through patches of bamboo.

Every so often the path leads through patches of bamboo.

Finally at the top, about an hour before the flu from the previous few days caught up with me and made me feel rather miserable.

Finally at the top, about an hour before the flu from the previous few days caught up with me and made me feel rather miserable.

But that won't stop me from snapping another photo with 玉山 (Yu shan) in the background!

But that won't stop me from snapping another photo with 玉山 (Yu shan) in the background!


A frog goes hiking: 志佳陽大山 (Zhi jia yang da shan)

posted by Martin Rubli at 14:37

志佳陽大山 (Zhi jia yang da shan) has a reputation of being one of the more difficult day-trip mountains to hike in Taiwan and it certainly didn't let us down. After the first three kilometers of forest trail awaits an uninterrupted steep ascent of almost 1600 meters over about 4.6 kilometers (average slope of ca. 35%).

While the way up is quite bearable given the light backpack the long hike back down takes its toll on thighs, knee, and toes.

The weather forecast had been pretty awful, so I left my camera at home and took pictures with the phone. Apologies for the bad quality. In my naïveté I also forwent sunscreen and a hat, which garnered me a bit of a sunburn. It just goes to show that mountain weather is hard to predict and you should always prepare for all eventualities.


Overview


(Click the image for a larger version.)


Elevation chart

環山 (Huan shan) to 志佳陽大山 (Zhi jia yang da shan) and back



GPS track


Hiking log

(As always, the altitudes are approximate.)

0300: Wake up
0410: Departure from the 四季朗溪吊橋 (Si ji lang river suspension bridge), 1550 m
0425: Spent about 25 minutes looking for the way along the river
0535: Break at 3.2 km, the end of the flat forest trail, 1700 m
0545: Continue
0825: 賽良久營地 (Sai lang jiu campsite), 2710 m
0935: 瓢簞山屋 (Piao dan mountain hut), 3140 m
0955: 志佳陽大山三角點 (Zhi jia yang da shan triangulation point) at 7.8 km, 3289 m
1100: Short trip to 志佳陽大山最高點 (Zhi jia yang da shan peak) at 8.2 km, 3350 m
1120: Back at 志佳陽大山三角點 (Zhi jia yang da shan triangulation point)
1145: Departure
1405: Break at 3.2 km
1455: Continue
1605: Back at the 四季朗溪吊橋 (Si ji lang river suspension bridge)


Photos

The steep trail to the top after the forest slowly clears.

The steep trail to the top after the forest slowly clears.

The view back onto a beautiful sea of clouds and 桃山 (Tao shan) on the far left.

The view back onto a beautiful sea of clouds and 桃山 (Tao shan) on the far left.

The continuation of the previous picture if you will. 桃山 (Tao shan) is the treeless peak far away in the center and on its left are 池有山 (Chi you shan) and 品田山 (Pin tian shan), the rocky one on the far left.

The continuation of the previous picture if you will. 桃山 (Tao shan) is the treeless peak far away in the center and on its left are 池有山 (Chi you shan) and 品田山 (Pin tian shan), the rocky one on the far left.

Looking back you can see 中央尖山 (Zhong yang jian shan). On the left is 南湖大山 (Nan hu da shan) and on the right are 甘薯峰 (Gan shu feng), a.k.a. 中央南山 (Zhong yang south peak) and 無明山 (Wu ming shan).

Looking back you can see 中央尖山 (Zhong yang jian shan). On the left is 南湖大山 (Nan hu da shan) and on the right are 甘薯峰 (Gan shu feng), a.k.a. 中央南山 (Zhong yang south peak) and 無明山 (Wu ming shan).

At the center is the village of 環山 (Huan shan) where we had started our hike a bit more than five hours earlier.

At the center is the village of 環山 (Huan shan) where we had started our hike a bit more than five hours earlier.

Finally at the top (sort of) with some Swiss snacks ...

Finally at the top (sort of) with some Swiss snacks ...

... and a butterfly that was very fond of my frog-blue jacket.

... and a butterfly that was very fond of my frog-blue jacket.

From the triangulation point you also get a nice view towards 大劍山 (Da jian shan), the peak of which is just blocked from view on the right.

From the triangulation point you also get a nice view towards 大劍山 (Da jian shan), the peak of which is just blocked from view on the right.

The triangulation point is where everybody likes to take pictures because of the little pillar.

The triangulation point is where everybody likes to take pictures because of the little pillar.

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However, if you continue a few hundred meters you get to the real peak. Unfortunately, the trees there block the view of the surrounding peaks, which explains why the triangulation point is further down.

However, if you continue a few hundred meters you get to the real peak. Unfortunately, the trees there block the view of the surrounding peaks, which explains why the triangulation point is further down.

Reading this sign makes you think what else you could possibly make faint using this plant. ;-)

Reading this sign makes you think what else you could possibly make faint using this plant. ;-)

On the way down you spot all the things you walked past a few hours earlier in the darkness like fungi ...

On the way down you spot all the things you walked past a few hours earlier in the darkness like fungi ...

... or fields of cabbage.

... or fields of cabbage.

The last meters of the hike. On the other side of the bridge is the trail head and the conveniently located hostel where we could take a shower before heading back.

The last meters of the hike. On the other side of the bridge is the trail head and the conveniently located hostel where we could take a shower before heading back.

The view from the suspension bridge is a good sample of the area: Rock slides ...

The view from the suspension bridge is a good sample of the area: Rock slides ...

... and orchards.

... and orchards.


A frog goes hiking: 畢祿山 (Bi lu shan)

posted by Martin Rubli at 15:23

After 羊頭山 (Yang tou shan) just over a month ago I now had the chance to climb 畢祿山 (Bi lu shan), the neighboring peak for which we didn't have time or energy at the time.

Instead of going in from 慈恩登山口 (Ci en trail head) we picked 820林道 (Forest road 820) this time, which starts just on the other side of the tunnel at 大禹嶺 (Da yu ling). The forest "road" is better described as the 8.5 kilometer long remains of an old logging road. It has been hit by so many landslides that it's hard to imagine vehicles passing through there many years ago. From the end of the road, at around 2500 meters above sea level, it's a 1.2 km short but steep ascent to over 3300 meters. It all adds up to a hike of about 20 kilometers that took us almost 12 hours including breaks.

The weather was flawless and the view was amazing. In hindsight it may have been easier to start from the other trailhead, but that's for another trip to confirm.

Below is all the technical information about the trip as well as the photos from the night before and of course from the hiking trip itself.


Overview


(Click the image for a larger version.)


Elevation chart

大禹嶺 (Da yu ling) to 畢祿山 (Bi lu shan) and back



GPS track


Hiking log

(As always, the altitudes are approximate.)

0645: Departure from 大禹嶺 (Da yu ling), 2550 m
0945: Break at around 8 km, 2580 m
1010: Continue
1030: Begin ascent at 8.4 km (waterfall), 2590 m
1230: Arrival at the ridge crossroads, 3340 m, break
1245: Arrival at 畢祿山 (Bi lu shan), 3371 m
1350: Departure from ridge crossroads
1505: Arrival at 8.4 km (waterfall), break
1520: Break at around 8 km
1615: Departure
1840: Back at 大禹嶺 (Da yu ling)


Photos

The view from 武嶺, at 3275 meters above sea level.

The view from 武嶺, at 3275 meters above sea level.

合歡山東峰 (He huan east peak) just before sunset.

合歡山東峰 (He huan east peak) just before sunset.

The view towards 中央尖山 (Zhong yang jian shan), the pointy one in the far center. The sunlit area much closer is 畢祿山 (Bi lu shan) which we climbed the next day.

The view towards 中央尖山 (Zhong yang jian shan), the pointy one in the far center. The sunlit area much closer is 畢祿山 (Bi lu shan) which we climbed the next day.

The sunlit peak on the left is 奇萊主峰 (Qi lai main peak) and the round one just right of center is 奇萊南峰 (Qi lai south peak).

The sunlit peak on the left is 奇萊主峰 (Qi lai main peak) and the round one just right of center is 奇萊南峰 (Qi lai south peak).

合歡山隧道 (He huan shan tunnel) near 大禹嶺 (Da yu ling) the next morning. The trailhead is just on the other side.

合歡山隧道 (He huan shan tunnel) near 大禹嶺 (Da yu ling) the next morning. The trailhead is just on the other side.

820林道 (Forest road 820), which can hardly be called a road anymore. Over the years it has been hit by countless landslides.

820林道 (Forest road 820), which can hardly be called a road anymore. Over the years it has been hit by countless landslides.

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One of the several waterfalls on the way.

One of the several waterfalls on the way.

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From some parts of the trail you can see 佳陽山 (Jia yang shan) near the middle with the rock slide as well as 大劍山 (Da jian shan) just right of the grasslands.

From some parts of the trail you can see 佳陽山 (Jia yang shan) near the middle with the rock slide as well as 大劍山 (Da jian shan) just right of the grasslands.

A tree looming dangerously over the trail.

A tree looming dangerously over the trail.

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Point 8.4 km of the forest road, very close to where the real ascent begins.

Point 8.4 km of the forest road, very close to where the real ascent begins.

While 1.6 kilometres literally is a walk in the (national) park there are 800 meters of elevation to climb on just 1.4 kilometers, which makes it everything else but a metaphorical walk in the park.

While 1.6 kilometres literally is a walk in the (national) park there are 800 meters of elevation to climb on just 1.4 kilometers, which makes it everything else but a metaphorical walk in the park.

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A great view of the 合歡山 (He huan shan) and 奇萊山 (Qi lai shan) area. The grassy mountain on the right is 合歡山北峰 (He huan shan north peak) and the rocky one on the left is 奇萊北峰 (Qi lai north peak).

A great view of the 合歡山 (He huan shan) and 奇萊山 (Qi lai shan) area. The grassy mountain on the right is 合歡山北峰 (He huan shan north peak) and the rocky one on the left is 奇萊北峰 (Qi lai north peak).

A short but near-vertical climb along the way.

A short but near-vertical climb along the way.

Another peek at 奇萊北峰 (Qi lai north peak).

Another peek at 奇萊北峰 (Qi lai north peak).

View down along the trail. If you look carefully you can see a few colorful dots hiking. :-)

View down along the trail. If you look carefully you can see a few colorful dots hiking. :-)

And the view upwards near the ridge.

And the view upwards near the ridge.

Finally, the crossroads on the ridge, very close to the top of 畢祿山 (Bi lu shan).

Finally, the crossroads on the ridge, very close to the top of 畢祿山 (Bi lu shan).

The last 200 meters before the top.

The last 200 meters before the top.

The view back from near the top.

The view back from near the top.

Finally at the top, posing with 無明山 (Wu ming shan) in the background. 中央尖山 (Zhong yang jian shan) is already covered in clouds.

Finally at the top, posing with 無明山 (Wu ming shan) in the background. 中央尖山 (Zhong yang jian shan) is already covered in clouds.

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A frog goes hiking: 桃山 (Tao shan)

posted by Martin Rubli at 15:45

It took a long time for us to actually make up our minds whether we should go or not. The weather forecast had been bad for several days and the chance for rain rather high. But because the actual precipitation had been low for days we ended up giving it a try.

And luckily we did try! Despite the absence of sunshine and the occasional drizzle we stayed almost dry. Also, thanks to the high cloud cover we still saw most of the surrounding mountains.

As I always do when the weather forecast is bad, I left my camera at home and took photos with my toy phone instead. The result wasn't half bad and where it was a little bit of retouching did the trick.

Here is 單攻桃山, a single-day trip to Tao shan and back.


Overview


(Click the image for a larger version.)


Elevation chart

武陵吊橋 (Wuling suspension bridge) to 桃山 (Tao shan) and back



GPS track


The night before: Dinner at the 武陵國民賓館 (Wuling hostel).

The night before: Dinner at the 武陵國民賓館 (Wuling hostel).

All-you-can-eat buffet, just what you need to load up for a day of hiking.

All-you-can-eat buffet, just what you need to load up for a day of hiking.

Rhododendron along the way.

Rhododendron along the way.

Notice the forest in the background. The right side has apparently been reforested.

Notice the forest in the background. The right side has apparently been reforested.

The view back down towards 武陵農場 (Wuling farm).

The view back down towards 武陵農場 (Wuling farm).

黑水塘 (Hei shui tang), a small pond along the hiking trail.

黑水塘 (Hei shui tang), a small pond along the hiking trail.

The trail has a great view of the surrounding mountains. The tallest peak in the left half of the photo is 南湖大山 (Nan hu da shan), the pointy one in the right half is 中央尖山 (Zhong yang jian shan).

The trail has a great view of the surrounding mountains. The tallest peak in the left half of the photo is 南湖大山 (Nan hu da shan), the pointy one in the right half is 中央尖山 (Zhong yang jian shan).

A little further up you can actually see the whole length of 武陵農場 (Wuling farm).

A little further up you can actually see the whole length of 武陵農場 (Wuling farm).

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Close to the top the always easy-to-recognize 大霸尖山 (Da ba jian shan) pops out above the forest.

Close to the top the always easy-to-recognize 大霸尖山 (Da ba jian shan) pops out above the forest.

And a little to the West you can see 池有山 (Chi you shan) in the front and 品田山 (Pin tian shan) in the back.

And a little to the West you can see 池有山 (Chi you shan) in the front and 品田山 (Pin tian shan) in the back.

Looking back towards 雪山 (Xue shan). If you look closely you can see a little white blot; that's 三六九山莊 (369 mountain hut).

Looking back towards 雪山 (Xue shan). If you look closely you can see a little white blot; that's 三六九山莊 (369 mountain hut).

The steeper parts of the mountains are riddled with rhododendron.

The steeper parts of the mountains are riddled with rhododendron.

The last few hundred meters.

The last few hundred meters.

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And finally at the top! That was about five minutes before it started raining.

And finally at the top! That was about five minutes before it started raining.

Time to dress up in rain gear ...

Time to dress up in rain gear ...

... and snap a few last photos.

... and snap a few last photos.

In this direction another peak would have been waiting to be conquered: 喀拉業山 (Ke la ye shan). But it's another 5-6 kilometers to go and come back and I hear the view is rather disappointing. Maybe next time!

In this direction another peak would have been waiting to be conquered: 喀拉業山 (Ke la ye shan). But it's another 5-6 kilometers to go and come back and I hear the view is rather disappointing. Maybe next time!


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