So I didn’t make it to Yu Shan, but found some granite to pull on at some other peaks in the Daxue Shan group of hills. Well, at 2500 meters, they’re not exactly large, but with sheer granite spines leading to the peak, they certainly like to pretend they are, especially when visibility is near zero.
The road in was brought to a sharp halt by the entire lack of the side of the mountain. These guys were welding together a new walkway across the ravine where the landslide was so severe it stripped the ground right back to the bedrock. Here, the mountain won. No new road will be built any time soon.
Further back down the hill, the other start to the track was an impressive vertical scramble up the wet side of valley head. Very much hand over hand, and when it soon turned to granite, slick with rain and mist, it was an easy trad climb all the way to the top, interspersed with soul-destroying greasy tree-root stairways, too shallow in gradient to use hands, and too steep to pretend it was not an ungainly crawl.
Once into the mist, which hung like an sodden wool blanket around 1500 meters and became thicker with each passing meter, everything went fuzzy. The world was wrapped in a grey, out-of-focus haze, the colour washed out, and distance impossible to gauge. Here, the spine of the mountain established itself, and all the way to the summit was a thin line to balance along, sided by a sheer drop away into nothing. Maybe a drop into the Grand Marriot swimming pool, or an endless plunge into a world of pain. Either way, the complete lack of location made the unprotected climb all the more alien.
Cold, wet, surrounded by moist clouds and occasional rain, temperature just above freezing, the wind picking up, me finding just how good my boots are at edging slick granite slabs in the wet and only in a t-shirt. Oh yeah, the kids are having fun. The final slab to the summit was this 20 meter slab with a boot-width crack its entire length. another fine piece of granite that anywhere else would be a classic trad climb worth a star or two. Here it just reminded me how much I love solo climbing and that it’s way past time to be doing alot more of it.
From here, it was a three hour trip down the other side of the peak, similarly steep, and through the alpine forest over several more rises, always either going sharply up or sliding and getting slapped by foliage until getting spat out 8 kilometers further up the road for an hours walk out. Lots of fun, despite the horrendous amount of litter I saw, and worth hauling yourself along sometime.
Lets’ talk about littering though. Taiwan, you’re a big grown-up country now, you’re not third-world, not a philistine backwater, so here are four words: GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER. Looking at some staggeringly awesome scenery that you use to advertise yourself around the world with, and then throwing what you’ve just ate or drunk or smoked at it is third-world, philistine, backwater and just plain stupid. And if you can’t understand that, expect to get yelled at by foreigners like me until you pick your shit up. And if that doesn’t convince you, how about: littering causes earthquakes. You don’t like earthquakes? Then don’t litter.
And don’t feed the birds either. What are you trying to do? Make a mountain full of sugar-dependant diabetic kidney failure avarians?