Nanhu 南湖: Beyond the Limits (54 km, 28hours, ↕5000 m)

Nanhu 南湖: Beyond the Limits (54 km, 28hours, ↕5000 m)

I don’t know how to call this trip, maybe ultra-hike or just insane trip. Dozen of runners and friends dared to spend whole day and whole night of hiking in difficult and even danger terrain in Nanhu Mountain in Taiwan. Please don’t try repeat this, it was really not safety.

Me and Eva visited Nanhu 南湖 mountains before three years and we were excited for this expedition which climb it all and even to the Central Range Point 中央尖山 in twenty four hours. Purpose of this was train for UTMF (ultra around Mt. Fuji) and some incoming ultramarathons of few friends, try difficult terrain and with lack of sleeping. And it was.

We started climb quite late (6:30) in nice weather but on top were unstable. Everything was fine, no rush just fast hiking and enjoy first part. Sasha even wore pink slippers for first ten kilometres. Terrain here is very steep, when you go up or down it is hard.

Relatively easy terrain changed to steep and later river walking when we turn to Central Range Point cottage 中央尖溪山屋, it was very nice part and I enjoyed it, we were making photos and have fun on stones and huge trunks in river bed. Till we reach cottage and had to decide continue up and back (at least 5hours and 1300 meters of elevation in rubble terrain). I really doubted , but others seemed ok and I also decide climb up, Eva, Max and Acer continued to Nanhu main peak and still had their own challenge when got lost and worried about us.

The weather changed, cloudy with little raining. It was difficult climb in wide river with many climbing parts and steep rubble in upper part. Just few hundred under peak one group went little wrong way and only few of us really reach the peak of Central Range Point 中央尖 3703 masl, where nothing to see was, but Sasha carried up one beer. Hurry down because we had to be out of river before dark. Climbed there is dark was not easy and we were just in half of the journey.

Steep climb towards to Nanhu South Peak 南湖大山南峰 was difficult, because tired and wanted sleep. Instead of sleeping and ate some snickers bar. The part between South and Main peak was quite challenge. We split to two groups, one with Yujui who is familiar with this mountains and one with me with little knowledge about and gps watch. It was hard, I remember I wanted sleep lot and 邱文孝 told me: ‘I want sleep’, me: ‘Now or later’, Now. We four person just lay on the wet ground in forest and take nap.

 Continued, but didn’t climb to main peak (just hunder meters) and continued to Nanhu main house 南湖山莊. I had feeling Eva will be there, she was happy to see us. They got lost and didn’t continue down from mountains. We waited for others, but cottage was full, no space take nap and I began really cold. Rest of us came and I knew there is no any solution, just we had to continue. So we did, Sasha wrap his leg in emergency foil (recently we talked what is mandatory equipment about), others in rain cover climbed up to windy ridge to the North Peak 南湖北山.

I was there in nice weather three years ago and still little remembered, but we little got lost in clouds. Maybe better was dark and could see because these parts are really open and so high. I was really happy stood on another side, I was very cold and very happy. From there is still far down, but safety. Rest of us catch us soon and some climbers took amazing photo of us after 22 hours of no sleeping and hiking.


Go down was painful for most of us. Few of us did hour of sleep in last cottage 新雲稜山莊, it helped lot but the way down (with many ascents) was so long, very very long. We came back to cars after 28 hours, 54km with 5000 meters of elevation gain in difficult terrain. It was big experience with lot of irresponsibility. Please don’t try repeat this, we were lucky many times. I cannot imagine if something happened or just start raining to already cold condition (many of us underestimate equipment and clothes choice). So see you next time.

Sasha’s version of this trip

It’s been the toughest hike in this year (yah, we had tougher years).

First ten smth kms when not running, walked in slippers, most comfortable shoes while not running, and during tracing river.

First part had really great runnable trails

Around noon we stopped by 中央尖溪山屋 at the split to where we to be return, and group divided to conquest 中央尖山, to which I had no idea what it will be apart suggestion that it will take 1200m up. Group leader and teammates seriously asked if I want to do this, and even Petr told me I shouldnt do it on slippers. That was an epic climb, first along riverbed at times crossing river on suspended trunks, then on stony rubble, that the higher we go, become steeper and more tending to move. Group spread apart to ones comfy pace, and thick dark grey fog obscured from seen each other. Four of us maid it out into the right crevasse, and eventually reached the 中央尖山 peak (Central Ridge SHARP Mt. – only next morning I could realize how sharp and steep the climb was)

We had a mini Runivore biting party on top, with sprinkling from high altitude beer, and crawl down. (pic of Runivore maybe more appropriate)

Clouds were flashing up behind saddle and quickly dissolve. Crossed the saddle down into foggy realm. Rest of the group appeared in the milk, and happily reunited, we  flew down, at a 5x pace, hopping on the rolling stones, that we were so cautious about on the climbing up.

One hour more and we got water, and reached the split point by the dark. Yilin made a fall into river just before the turn, and we both, wearing only shorts, got shivering a lot in the coming night. Yujui announced – another 1200m to some Nanhu peak, and later some more, and will pass by another hut which maybe can rest (but we are in training, so may no need).

Walking up ~1k in pine forest in dark was as pleasant as in the day, without wind, and with great gum smell. I had been relieved that the rest journey will be as pleasant as till now, and slept happily at the rest stop at end of tree line. Ten mins later, winds gusts met us cold, and were only to increase as we climbed along the ridge. At few not obvious turns Petr and Yujui had been running up and down “checking” to make sure the way, while the rest of us stand shivering on the wind. Yilin, who happen to fall down in river, was saved with supplementary windstopper pants from one well prepared, and me just had to keep moving to keep knees warm. Approach toward Nanhu had been slowed down, despite the promised down section, for it were 2-5m boulders, apparently loosely fallen from a hill side, that each require some time to crook around, attenuating flash light to investigate pit holes between them. Then again great lovely windless forest, where we took a nap trying to wait for catching up group. R U?  – ” on on ” from already far away the bolder valley, too far, lets go. Nanhu mt. showed up thru opening in forest.. It appeared so close yet steep, and knowing that main trail passed beside it, we mentally give up on necessity to get it, and also as camera batteries drained out, and I didnt want to leave forest. But, forest finished, and pass lead us to a stony hillside, which looked getting steeper toward front, and without immediately realizing, we find ourselves walking up hillside, almost till the peak! Just to find out ourselves at peak trailhead split, that could bring us there in mere 0.54km. But, in 1.4km forward, there is mountain hut, and as it was already 1am, we unanimously choose the way to win some more sleep time from the catcher up team. Wind become more fresh, and so the desire to heat the stove, heat a cup of water and doze off. Some girl run to us as we approach, it was Eva, who been on this trail years ago, and early on decided join short group, without crazy steep afternoon detour we did. They did conquire South Nanhu Mt. instead.  But why at 1am – the mountain hut was full, so no place to lye down and sleep ><  Well. I did find narrow strip of damp wood to stretch on, but it was so cold. Luckily someone had a sheet of reflective film, so wrapped around, it reflected body heat back, this was saviour, and I got few solid minutes of a fast sleep. Or were it an hour or what, when catcher group arrived, and cause of no quality sleep possible, we decided to walk further, to maybe rest in the next mountain hut 6 or 16kms further, but the most challenging part to reach it was a sharp ridge walk, with high falls on the sides on a strong sidewind, fortunately with a supporting roperail (yet wet in the midnight coldness). Only the stars in sky cheered up from sky abyss as wind kept opening and closing clouds above our heads. There again, in the n-th time, I learned a lesson, that mountains dont accept sluggish attitude, and full cover clothes is a necessity.

We met sunrise  behind a hill and as wind blew away the clouds, I finally saw the 中央尖山 beast mountain, it was breathtaking thought to realize and see the path we climbed it, from few kms distance, but so many hard core adventure trails were lying in between, after more than 20k and 12h of walking. And as the morning wind carried away the most clouds, from a yesterday’s dense fog zyj creak,

The only light white cloudlet stayed on the chest of the 中央尖 cliff.

She fled away in azure sky bit later in the morning,

Left only wet shrink on rock face, the standing still, beast giant..

(c) Mikhail Lermontov, Cliff, 1841  – frivoulous interpretation.. other transl ref.:

We we lucky to meet mountain climbers, who were on a second day of their tour to Nanhu from reverse direction.

We met them at trail entrance on first day too.

From the point where return way overlapped with upcoming way,  I complete the rest part of the route in roughly twice as time, mainly beacause most of it was downhill, and knees craved for rest and relaxed walk c. 25-30min/km.



this time no gps and map, don’t repeat it

More Photos

in album Nanhu 南湖: Beyond the Limits

One Response

  1. Paul
    | Reply

    Great accomplishment and great fun! I have been on this route before, so I understand exactly what you described here. But I have to say you guys were a bit reckless. The hypothermia combined with fatigue can overwhelm you very quickly! You should have been more prepared. Be careful next time!

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