Archive | Destinations

Pure Joy: Checking 4 Peaks off Baiyue in 2 Days!

Last year, I went on a trekking trip to Hehuanshan (合歡山), or literally “Joy Mountain” in Chinese, in Taiwan from 5 June 2019 to 8 June 2019. Although a novice to high altitude trekking, I was able to trek up 4 different peaks that are above 3000 m in just 2 days!

This trip was organised by Ace Adventure Expeditions as part of its Start Trekking programme. This programme was designed for greenhorns just like me. Hitherto, the highest peak I have trekked outside National Service in the Army, other than Singapore’s own Bukit Timah Hill (163.63 m), was Gunung Lambak (510 m) in Johor, Malaysia. That achievement was also on a hiking trip with Ace Adventure Expeditions, back on 31 May 2014.

Hehuanshan is a series of peaks in Central Taiwan which forms part of the Central Mountain Range (中央山脈), a principal mountain range that runs from the north of Taiwan island to its south. Hehuanshan lies between the Nantou (南投縣) and Hualien (花蓮縣) counties and is located within the Taroko National Park (太魯閣國家公園).

On this trip, I had the opportunity to trek up 4 peaks on Hehuanshan, all above 3000 m. The East Peak (東峰)(3421m), Mount Shimen (石門山) (3237m) and the Main Peak (主峰) (3417m) on the first day of trekking and the North Peak (主峰) (3422 m) on the second day.

These 4 peaks are among the “Hundred Peaks” or “Baiyue” (百岳) chosen, by a group of prominent Taiwanese hikers, from amongst the named peaks in Taiwan known at the time to have a height of about 3,000 m. The criteria for getting onto the Baiyue list included uniqueness, danger, height, beauty and prominence. With the likes of Yushan or “Jade Mountain” (玉山) (3952 m) and Xueshan or “Snow Mountain” (雪山) (3886 m) at #1  and #2 respectively, the placings of the 4 Hehuanshan peaks I checked off the list are as follows:  North Peak #34, East Peak #35, Main Peak #37 and Mount Shimen #66.

I understand from the local guides on the trip that these 4 peaks are amongst the “easy peasies” in the Baiyue list in terms of height, difficulty and the time needed to hike up. While it was not a completely walk in the park for me, I found that the pre-trip training session organised by Ace Adventure Expeditions, that I attended 2 months before the trip on 11 April 2019, adequately prepared me for the trip. The trek leader and 2 local guides on the trip were also most helpful and watchful over us, especially those of us who were weaker and less experienced. These mitigated any challenges that I may have encountered in terms of the terrain on the trip.

During the pre-trip training session, we were educated on high altitude trekking and on general healthcare in such circumstance. We were also given tips on the kind of gears and equipment we should have on the trip. We were taught basic trekking techniques like footwork, pacing and the use of trekking poles and given guidance on the layering system, footwear, hydration and high altitude health concerns such as Acute Mountain Sickness. At the session, we were each given a little booklet on how to prepare ourselves for the trip between the session and the actual trip, complete with a list of what to pack on the list. Just before the trip, we were given another booklet on what exactly to expect on the trip and contained reminders of what we were briefed on a the pre-trip training session.

I would say that this trip would probably be considered a very “easy landing” in the experienced trekker’s universe. There was no necessity for us camp in tents over night or stay in a mountain lodge or hut at high elevation. We also did not need to cook our own meals in harsh conditions. We had proper dinners at restaurants at the end of each day of trekking and we got to sleep and shower in the comfort of our hotel rooms, which was a hot spring hotel on this trip. I even got to dip in a hot spring tub to soothe my aching muscles after trekking up and down the 3 peaks on the first day.

The trip down to our accommodation at a lower altitude for our overnight rest allowed those of us with risks of Acute Mountain Sickness to acclimatise much better. Lunch on the first day of the trek, which happens to be on the day of the Chinese Dumpling Festival, was dumplings at a café near the Hehuanshan Visitor Centre, which was close to the various trailheads, after our descent from Mount Shimen. The only “hardship” meal of cup noodles, canned food and 3-in-1 coffee I had to “suffer” was on the second day on the summit of the North Peak at 3422 m. Frankly, the experience was not bad at all. While the food may be basic, the magnificent mountain top view and the fellowship with the many new friends I have made on the expedition more than made up for the simple food.

The scenery on the way up and down the 4 peaks and the panoramic view at the summits were awesomely breath taking. Words fail me to do justice to the beauty I beheld. Hence, I took tons of photographs and some videos, not just of the beautiful scenery but of the moments of our interacting with each other and with Mother Nature on these hills. Needless to say, many of these photographs and videos found their way onto my Facebook page. At the conclusion of the trip, Ace Adventure Expeditions very thoughtfully weaved some of the photographs and some videos taken by those on the trip into a montage video clip that neatly summarised the joyful time we had. This clip can be found on YouTube.

I had a great time on this trip that earned me the right to brag that I have checked off 4 peaks on the Baiyue list! The icing on the cake was that I was able to catch up with 2 of my mates from my secondary school alma mater, Hua Yi  Secondary School (華義中學). One of them is none other than Joanne Soo, our trek leader and the honcho of Ace Adventure Expeditions, who was my classmate for a year and whom I now affectionately refer to as “Iron Lady” due to her fame associated with the Singapore Women’s Everest Team. After the 2 days of trekking, my ex-schoolmates and I extended our trip slightly and had the opportunity of hanging out in Taipei, mostly in Ximenting (西門町), for a day before return home to the hustle and bustle of work.

All in all, this was a good short getaway with a dash of adventure.  If you are keen to join this start trekking programme, the next Mt Hehuan trek is scheduled for 26-29  Nov 2020.

Looking forward to my next mountain with Ace Adventure Expeditions.

– Michael S Chia
Trek participant of Mt Hehuan Trek (5-8 Jun 2019)

Start Trekking to Beautiful Mt Hehuan

Mt Hehuan was our inaugural trek for our Start Trekking initiative and has continued to be popular.

The beautiful mountain scenery and friendly terrain is suitable not only for beginners but also for families or anyone who want to embark on a short scenic trek.

The trek covers four peaks above 3000m with an overnight stay in a local hotel in town. At the end of each day’s trek, there’s a sumptuous dinner, hot shower and nice comfortable bed to look forward to.

Every year, we schedule our Mt Hehuan trek during the Dragon Boat Festival. Our participants will get to enjoy delicious Taiwanese rice dumplings!

Keep a lookout for our talk on Mt Hehuan to be held on 21 Feb in collaboration with Taiwan Tourism Bureau, Singapore.

Our next Start Trekking to Mt Hehuan is on 18-21 Jun 2020. For package details, refer to our website at http://aceadventure.com.sg/even…/taiwan-mt-hehuan-hehuanshan

Women On Mountains

Women on Mountains is an Ace Adventure Expeditions’ initiative to encourage women to challenge themselves through mountain climbing and to support a charity cause to help other women.

This 19-28 Dec 2018, we will have a team of women heading to climb Kilimanjaro! The trek leader is Sim Yihui,  co-founder and co-leader of an all-women’s team from Singapore to climb Mt Everest via the South side in Nepal.

Included in the Women on Mountains’ package cost is a $100 contribution to Project Pari. Each Women on Mountains’ participant will also received a Women on Mountains’ t-shirt and a copy of the Singapore Women Everest Team’s book.

Through Women on Mountains’, we hope more women will be inspired to challenge themselves and greater awareness can be generated for women’s causes.

 

New Destination – Kyrgyzstan

We are VERY EXCITED about our newest destination – KYRGYZSTAN!

Kyrgyzstan is a rugged Central Asian country along the Silk Road.  Landlocked with mountainous terrain, it is an incredible natural beauty with deep-rooted nomadic traditions, making it one of the most exotic destinations in the world.

To cater to different adventure preferences,  we have launched a run, a trek and a peak climbing itinerary:

RUN THE SILK ROAD MARATHON

Run the Silk Run takes place annually in northern Tian Shan mountains, in eastern Kyrgyzstan, on the shores of Issyk-Kul Lake (1609m). The race route traverse through part of the Silk Route with historic architecture and magnificent alpine views along the run. Issyk-Kul Lake, a protected marshland and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, is an endorheic lake and the second largest saline lake after the Caspian Sea. Issyk-Kul means “warm lake” in the Kyrgyz language; although it is surrounded by snow-capped peaks, it never freezes.

TIEN SHAN ALA_KUL VOLCANIC LAKE TREK

The Tien Shan Mountains, Chinese for “Celestial Mountains”, is a Central Asian mountain range spreading across several countries like China, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, but mostly found in Kyrgyzstan. Our trek in the Tien Shan Mountains will bring you on the old caravan route of the Silk Road, the scenic Terskei Ala Too Mountain Range and the famous  moraine-glacial lake, Ala Kol (3532 m).

LENIN PEAK

Kyrgyzstan has three 7000m mountains. Lenin Peak (7134m), Pobeda Peak (7439m) and Khan-Tengri Peak(7010m). Lenin Peak is the starting point for climbers attempting the Snow Leopard Trophy. It is also considered one of the least technical 7000m mountains to climb and has by far the most ascents of any 7000m mountains in the world.

Start Trekking – A Trekking Programme for Beginners

Start Trekking 2018

More and more people are discovering the regenerative power of the outdoors, both physically and spiritually. Trekking is one of the BEST ways to enjoy the outdoors and immerse oneself in nature! For those of you who have been wanting to put on a pair of trekking boots to start trekking, this Start Trekking programme is FOR YOU!

We have handpicked 3 treks for the Start Trekking programme. The treks selected  are well suited for beginners. They are great picks to ease you into your first trekking adventure.

These treks offer breathtaking sceneries without overly taxing your fitness. Make new friends with trekkers of similar experiences, pick up trekking tips and skills from the trek leader(s) and embark on exploring new adventures together.

Poon Hill Sunrise Trek (23 Mar – 1 Apr 2018)

The Poon Hill trek is one of the most scenic short treks in the Annapurna region in Nepal. It offers magnificent snow-capped Himalayan mountain views without drastic ascend to high altitude. The sacred Machapuchare, also known as “Fish Tail Mountain” is constantly in sight. The sunrise at Poon Hill with a panoramic view of the snow-capped mountain range is breath-taking and world famous. Passing through mountain villages, farmlands and rhododendron forests, this trek starts at 1600m with the highest point at 3200m on top of Poon Hill. The risk of Altitude Mountain Sickness (AMS) is low. Accommodation will be in teahouses with comfortable basic amenities. Perfect for those who are new to high altitude or trekking!

Mt Hehuan Trek (14 to 17 June 2018)

Hehuanshan, 合 歡山, Mt Hehuan (also called Joy Mountain) 3416m is one of the most accessible high altitude hiking trails in Taiwan.  This trek covers the Mt Hehuan Main Peak (3417m), Mt Shimen (3237m), East Peak (3421m) and Mt Hehuan North Peak (3422m). The peaks are among the “Hundred Peaks” (百岳) identified by Taiwanese as great mountains of Taiwan. At the end of each day, we return to the hostel or hotel to stay overnight. Covering four peaks above 3000m in just 2 days, this is ideal for an experience of high altitude trekking in a short duration of days.

Kalaw to Inle Lake Trek (3 to 10 Nov 2018)

This rustic trek is gaining popularity among travellers to Myanmar. The trek goes through the hilly countryside and villages in the western part of Shan State, offering a glimpse into the rural lives of the different tribes. The journey from village to village, through bamboo and pine forests, farmlands, railway and dirt tracks, with a mountain view in the backdrop, has a straightforward terrain without much undulation between 1300m-1500m. Any one with an average fitness is able to complete this trek. The cool (at times maybe HOT) but not cold hill climate means you do not need to invest in a lot of gear. For attire, a quick dry t-shirt, trekking shorts and trail shoes with any light sweater for the night is sufficient! The comfortable homestays mean you do not have to lug a sleeping bag or sleep in a tent! The trek ends with a boat ride to the famous Inle Lake where you will get to spend a night before heading back to Yangon.

Training and Gear/Trekking Health Knowledge Sessions

To help you prepare for your first trekking adventure, we have included a training session and a gear/healthcare knowledge session prior to your trip.

The training session will cover all the basic trekking techniques on footwork, pacing, how to use the trekking poles etc.

The trekking gear/ healthcare knowledge session will cover the layering system, footwear, hydration and high altitude health concerns such as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) etc.