Snow Mtn. Summit, Taiwan

With no plans to leave the island anytime soon, we revisited our Taiwan bucket list and decided that the week of Sarah’s birthday would be a great time to summit Snow Mountain.  In 2018, we summited Jade Mountain the highest peak in Taiwan at 3952m.  Snow Mountain (Mt. Syue) is the second highest peak at 3886m.

We looked into hiring a tour company to help plan the logistics, but after talking to friends and reading other blogs, we decided that we could figure it out on our own.

To enter the trail and do the summit hike, you need to register for a permit at Shei-Pa National Park.  You fill out the form, outline your itinerary, and submit it for approval.  This not only allows you access to the trail but also guarantees you a spot at cabins you select in your itinerary.  It took us a few tries to get it right, due to some confusing translation issues, but we did work it out. A couple of days later our permit came to us by email.

We also heard that is possible to order food at the cabin, which surprised us because the cabins are very basic.  We did some research and read about Taiwanese aboriginals from the local towns who carry up food and gear up to the cabins for the hikers.  We followed the directions from one of the blogs and basically texted someone using the popular Taiwan chat app LINE.  They texted back with a price and a bank account number.  We transferred the requested money and then crossed our fingers that it would all work out.

The valley of Lishan

It is about a 5 hour drive from Taichung to the National Park. On the drive up, we realized that this national park is deep in the mountains and a beautiful part of Taiwan.

The Birthday Girl

We spent the night before the hike camping in our van in the parking lot at the trail entrance.

Illustration by Heckles Creative
The parking lot was quiet and made a great camp site.
The lodge at the trail entrance.

To start the hike, you drop off one copy of your permit when you enter and then a second copy as you leave the trail.

The trail starts here.

Our destination the first day is a 7.1 km hike, to the 369 Hut where we will “sleep” one night.

The trail just goes up and up.
The trail opens up to spectacular views.
… and good smells (sister tradition)
The 369 Cabin in view.

The cabin is basic. You get a spot on a mat where you can try to sleep. By evening this room will be full and some people will snore loudly.
There is also a kitchen. This is where our meals will be prepared.

Most people staying at the cabin get up at 2 am to see sunrise at the summit around 5:30 am.  Not wanting to hike in the dark with a crowd of people we tried to get a bit more sleep and then started our summit hike at 5 am.

Sunrise over the clouds and mountains.
The final push to the top.

It took us about 3 hours to hike the approximately 4 km to the summit.  A benefit of starting later, we had time at the summit all to ourselves!

Summit selfie

The views, tranquility and emotions at this elevation are impossible to put to words. These places grant a welcome quietness for the mind and feel meditative. I think of my dad in places like this, particularly on the summits. He exposed Tat and I to this type of high elevation beauty as kids which I’ll always be grateful for. I felt him with me and will continue to carry his spirit to places like this for as long as I can. He was always the first person I’d text a summit selfie to and if I/we were ever at the bottom of anything remotely hikeable he’d always nudge with a “let’s scramble up!” or “let’s bag it”. His nudges were effective.

A little rest at the top for legs and from UV.
A view from the top of the path back down to the cabin and the bowl carved out by a glacier between 10,000 and 70,000 years ago.

From the top, it is a 11 km trek back down to the trail entrance and our van.

On the way back down we pass porters on the “Wall of Pain” bringing supplies for the next group of hikers.

After getting up at 5 am and hiking about 15 km, we knew that we would not want to do the long drive home that night.  Instead, we found a great little B&B just outside the park in the aboriginal town of Sqoyaw.


It was worth the stop to spend a night in this fruit producing region nestled in the mountains.

Cable cars collect the deep valley hillside fruit

We were really happy to have made this trip and climb, it turned out to be one of the most beautiful areas that we have explored in Taiwan.

Pickles & Passionfruit

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16 thoughts on “Snow Mtn. Summit, Taiwan

  1. Happy belated birthday my dear friend! You two are as cute as always! Thanks again for a glimpse into your adventures. Xoxo

    1. Thanks, Karen! Miss you, friend. I hope Italy is still proving to be a grand expat adventure for your family. What a year to be abroad.

  2. There was a glacier action on Taiwan?! Did not know that! I love all your photos so much! What an amazing trip! Reminds me of your Dad and me on our honeymoon trip to the climbers camp in the Tetons where Jack climbed the Grand. I got to base camp in the wide grassy saddle above Peacock Lake which was just fine with me! 😃! Svea Stove, REI two-man pup-tent… the whole shebang including the famous “Eddy’s nut-roll”. Wonder if they still make that? Valuable indigenous wilderness food source! Carry on!

    1. I had no idea either. These are the largest glacial traces in all of Taiwan (during the Late Pleistocene age). Thanks for all the blog love. You’ll have to pluck out these photo so I can go back in time with you next time I’m home. I’d love to see them. I had to google Svea Stove and get this… “although it was originally made in Sweden it is now built in Taiwan by Optimus.” Couldn’t find the famous Eddy nut-roll, but it made me crave Entenmann’s crumb cake while I was e-looking. Love ya, Mamamoomin! xoxo

  3. What an amazing trek! Such beauty! I’m glad Mt. Snow was able to provide the trekking necessities—nose buds! Were they as good as Halla’s?! —and such fine accommodations. Reminds me of Lake of the Clouds Hut. Did IT have hot showers?!

    1. Halla’s nose buds are the finest fragrances around. I still have mine, and they still smell super fragrant even all dried up. No hot showers, no cold showers, and the pit toilets were so stinky I chose to relieve myself in the wild. We were raised to be flexible in this department. 🙂

  4. Dearest Sarah & Scott,
    How incredibly glorious. I love the narratives as much as the photos. Birthday love to you sweet Sarah.


  5. What a cool gift your Dad gave to you — the spirit of adventure and exploration, and the curiosity and drive to reach summits!! And now you can continue to honor him with these adventures. So glad you’re enjoying these beautiful parts of Taiwan. I wanted to take Grace there when we were going to visit in April, but next time! Amazing to hear that so many people pack into such a small space in those cabins — Taiwan has done such a better job to combat Covid! All of the huts are still closed here. Have fun and belated Happy Birthday!! Adventure on!

    1. Thanks, Kari! You’re bestowing your kids with a taste for adventure, and they may not thank you now, but in time they should pending how much you scare the crap out of them. HA! True, Taiwan never allowed covid to spread on the island. Go figure. Public health was a priority over politics. It’s a paradise, one we don’t take for granted. I really hope we live here long enough to host you and Grace! xoxo

  6. Happy belated birthday to you, Sarah! What a great trip. Loved seeing the pics and hearing about another adventure! Thank you! Hugs & love to you both

  7. I love the illustration! Might be my favorite part of this post, minus the cute pictures of you two of course 😉

  8. Such a fabulous post with so many gorgeous pictures!! I love how your stuffed herbs up your nose, ha. I figured from your sister’s reply that Halla is referencing the famous Hallabong mandarin oranges that grow on Jeju? I appreciated your beautiful words about feeling your dad’s spirit with you…in being adventurous and affirming the grandeur of the mountains. You and your Scotter ROCK in summitting Taiwan’s tallest mountains! I miss you dearly and love you dearly!

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