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Southeast Face T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R
Elevation: 7,500 ft
GPS: 23.901, 121.326 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 352 total · 11/month
Shared By: Nate Ball on Jul 5, 2015
Admins: Nate Ball
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Description

Needle Mountain, written as 針山 (zhēn shān in Mandrain), is a lone hill of marble (?) in the middle of a mountainous island of crumbling slate. This gem of a natural feature has very little recent human significance beyond its sheer beauty and the few adventurers it has inspired. Surely it had some power for the aboriginal tribes as well. The southeast face has seen only two ascents - one in 1997 and another in 2013 - both via a series of ledges that traverse back and forth across it. The route is roughly 1200m long, but ascends only 600m of elevation. All previous attempts took multiple days to approach, no less than six days to climb, and then several days to descend to Aowanda. Other descent options have been considered, likely involving sketchy down-climbing, rappelling off of trees, and bolting subsequent rappels...

Driving

From Hualian, drive south on either the blue-11丙 or blue-9 for about 25km. You will cross the Mugua River (木瓜溪) just south of the city. Before you cross the next river called Shoufeng River (壽豐溪), turn off the highway to the north and cross the bridge. Immediately on the other side, turn right onto Xilin Rd (西林路) then the next right onto the white-42 (probably unmarked). Follow this through the small aboriginal town, staying on the main road and passing under an aboriginal-themed entry sign (this is for 二子山温泉, the hot spring you will walk past). As the road narrows and eventually turns to gravel, just stay straight on the main road. You will eventually come to a "parking lot" near some abandoned buildings in the river bed itself. Continue driving up an unmarked gravel road along what is now the Yikan River (怡堪溪) for about 7km until it comes to a dead-end. Park here and begin the walk.

Walking

It's fairly exciting just getting to the base of the mountain. You must walk roughly 7km up the Yikan river canyon, which has you climbing over boulders, traversing around waterfalls, swimming with packs, soaking in a hot spring, but mostly just walking. The water must be low enough (probably any time that isn't during or immediately after a typhoon) that the river can be crossed easily, which you will have to do around a dozen times. A fit team can make it to the base in a day.

There is a perfect camping spot on the north side of the river, before you reach the fork at the base. The roof is overhung, the ground is sandy, and it sits above the river's flood line.

I have not done the approach from here, and the rest of this is what I think to be somewhat decent beta based on a little research. From the camping spot, continue west (left-hand fork) past the major rock slide on the south face. From here, it's 550m vertically and 800m horizontally to the shoulder and the start of the climb. Scramble up the the left (west) side of the chute until you can cut left above and through the trees to the top of this buttress feature. The roped climbing begins from here...

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