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2015-11-16

2015年11月15日 慢集團@瑞芳半平山劍龍稜-鋸齒稜 Climbing up Mt.Banpingshan rock ridges

Climbing Jianlongleng (Stegosaurus) ridge
昨年から登山者に注目され、盛んに登山が行われている瑞芳の黄金十稜を再び訪れた。今回は、十稜のうちもっとも困難度が高いとされる半平山の劍龍稜と鋸齒稜を登り、下りは煙囪稜の上半分を経由して下った。慢集団の道案内であるが、対象が危険度の高い場所なので、初めより参加者を絞っての山行である。昨年歩いたのと同じルートなので、今回は英語で記述する。

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Start from northeast side and ends at Quanjitang
Hiking elevation profile
Following the hike over the Golden ridge #7 and #10 under Manjiduan (Andante 慢集團) hiking group in March this year, I took the group to the ridge #5 and #6 in the same area. These ridges are called Jianlongleng (劍龍稜 Stegosaurus ridge) and Juzhileng (鋸齒稜 Saw blade ridge) respectively, as they are covered with pointing rocks on their top and resemble such. Under a recent zeal for completing all ten Golden ridges of Ruifang, the two ridges are the hikers' final targets to complete the ten ridges as they are most difficult. They are a part of a main ridge of Mt. Banpingshan (半平山) extending north from its top. The ridge raises almost from a sea coast and goes up 700 meters in elevation. The climb itself is a long ascent. On top of that, the ridges are barely with no vegetation except low-growing bushes and grasses at some points, and its climb is very much influenced by climate. Strong wind and rain in winter and direct sun light in summer are very hard on climbers. I waited until this time of year because autumn or early spring is the best season for hike on the ridges.

Start from Taijin gongsi, the Jianlongleng ridge ahead in the distance
We have a little less than twenty members this time. We saw a bit of rain drops on the windows of the #886 bus from Ruifang. When we arrive at the Taijin Gonsi bus stop (台金公司), we see no more rain drops though the upper half of Mt. Banpingshan is in thick cloud. The sky over the ocean is clear though and I decide to go on. I was worried about the weather last evening. The weather turns out not as good as my last visit last year but it is still acceptable.

Group picture at start
A group of hikers goes along the creek
There are a couple of other troops of hikers by the wall of Taijin Gongsi also heading for the ridges. They apparently came by their own cars as there were only two other hikers besides us on the #886 bus.  Taijin gongsi (Taiwan gold mining company) once ran mining operation in this vast empty hillsides for decades and ceased its operation forty years ago. The property is still fenced by the wall but nobody watches now. Hikers need to pass through the property to get the foot of the Jianlongleng ridge (Stegosaurus ridge). We went by another route to get there last year but this time we climb over the wall just like other hikers and get inside.

Climb to the concrete structure
At a little after 8:00 we start our hike. Some of us cross a deep water ditch over three wooden poles but it is rather scary and others go along the ditch which meets at an upper part of the road. In ten minutes or so we pass by an abandoned office building. We see a troop of hikers go along the creek on our left. They are heading for the very end of the Jianlongleng ridge. We take a right trail and keep going up. The trail is a bit muddy and slippery at some points. More and more hikers have come since last year and the trail is much clearer now. 8:24 we arrive at a empty concrete structure which looks like a pavilion from distance. Further up we go and come to a starting point of rock section at 8:45. This is about 200 meters in elevation. The bottom part of the ridge is in grasses and not exciting at all.

Bottom of the rock section, another troop is ahead of us
Going up on the Jianlongleng ridge
After a little rest, we start our climb. Another troop is ahead of us. It rained yesterday but the rock is acceptably dry and gives enough friction. They are sand rocks and absorb water. All of our members are here for the first time but one, Dora, who has climbed this ridge a few times and helps other members at the troop tail. The sky is dark but we have no rain and wind is not strong, which is very good for this climb. The 555 peak where another golden ridge #4 Fukanleng (俯瞰稜) joins our ridge is still far and high. We pass by a section of mainly bare rocks and enter a section with Chinese silver grasses. We complete ascent in grasses and arrives at the 381 peak where another sub ridge merges and the Juchileng ridge (Saw blade ridge) starts. Time is 9:50 and we covered  the Jianlongleng ridge in an hour and a half. This is a halfway point in terms of height to the end of this ridge climb.

Walking on the rock by friction
A view from Juchileng ridge, 555 peak is far ahead and Mt. Teapot on right
A valley on the left side of Juchileng ridge
We now can see a part of the ridge behind the 555 peak and Mt. Chahushan (茶壺山, Mt. Teapot) on its right. Both sides of the ridge are very deep valleys, especially the cliff goes almost vertically down to the bottom on the right side. We come about 10 minutes or so from the 381 peak and pass through a dangerous rock section. You have to make sure your friction on the rock and pass over it. Mt. Wuliaojian is also a famous rock ridge mountain, but now it is full of safety measures like safety ropes and hand rails. Here on this ridge no such thing and it is all up to you to be safe. If you have acrophobia, you would better stay away. It takes about 15 minutes for all of us to get through this section.

Climbing by a rope
We keep on the ridge and go around to the right side under a big rock. There is a rather flimsy looking rope affixed to the rock. It is almost impossible to get over the rock without this rope unless you are an experienced rock climber. This rope must have been fixed by a volunteer group. After this rock we start climbing in sliver grasses again and later the left side of the ridge. The trail is very clear but it is of clay and very slippery. A little after 11:00 we arrive at the 555 peak which is in tall grasses. A trial diverges on our right which goes down on the golden ridge #4 Fukanleng. We have some rest here.

Going through grasses of the upper Juchileng ridge
Climbing in thick mist
Passing another rock section
We go along the ridge top again. Soon we get into thick mist and can no longer see the view. The dirt trail on the left side is more wet with water. One point of the muddy narrow path cannot hold our weight and slides down on the rock. One of our members may have fallen off with the dirt if not careful enough. We take out a rope and fix it onto a big rock above on the ridge for safe passage. After all of us pass this section, we then start again on the left side of the ridge. We reach the point to meet an official trail at 12:30. This is the end of our ridge climb. Wind blows through this gap and all members go down to a flat area below to avoid wind and have a lunch.

Climbing the side of ridge
Mt. Chahushan in thick mist
Dangerous opening is blocked
A little after 13:00 we start descent. The trail is much better now but as slippery as before. Steps show up and it turns easier to go down. A blurry huge rock in thick mist appears in front of us. It is the top of Mt. Chahushan. We go up a little again and pass through a hole under the peak. A fatal accident happened early this year. A man slipped off into a vertical hole there. When the rescue team searched him, they accidentally discovered another body, which had been reduced to almost bones only.  This body belongs to another unfortunate hiker who also fell into the deep hole. Due to this accident the authority blocked this opening and put metal bars to prevent same accidents.

A view from the observation deck, now out of mist
Going down from Mt. Chahushan
We come out from the hole and go further down the mountain. Passing by a pavilion, we keep going down on stone steps. There are more casual hikers now on this trail. At 14:00 we reach an observation deck. We have come down low enough to get out of fog and can see the view beneath us. We come down to a paved road. Originally we plan to turn left and go down along this road and stone steps all the way to Quanjitang (勸濟堂). Mr. Wang suggests that it is early enough so we take the golden ridge #2 instead. We then turn right and go along the dirt road. 14:11 we come to a trail head of #2 ridge route.

The Yancongleng #2 golden ridge
Going in a silver grass field
There is no marker but a small dirt path goes into a silver grass field. The trail first goes up to a small peak and then descends on a ridge. This is the golden ridge #2 煙囪稜 (Yanzongleng, Chimney ridge). We go through a wide silver grass field which is now in full of silver flowers. The view from here is pretty good. The wide area of the ocean and hills are just under us. We come to the top of big rock field. A big rock in front of us looks like a dog head. Chimney openings are visible under us. These chimneys are a thing of the past when this area produced copper. Smoke from the smelter at the bottom of the hill was conducted to up here and exhausted into air. Poisonous gas killed all vegetation up on the hills. This is one of the reasons why the mountains in this region has little vegetation except grasses.

A view from the top of big rocks section, the dog head rock is on the extreme left and chimney openings are below
Broken chimney, Mt. Jilongshan is on the left
We go down to the chimney and walk through a section of it. The inside wall of the chimney is still very black with chemical material and smells even decades after the operation end. Coming out of the chimney and we go further down on the ridge to meet another trail going flat along the hillside. We turn left, leaving the #2 ridge trail behind and follow the hillside trail. We come across the chimney again and pass through it. We keep on the flat trail on the hillside and come to an area where two chimneys merge. A few more minutes of trail walk brings us to a paved road. We walk down along the paved road and come to an observation deck. We go through a tunnel which is located just near the observation deck and come out to the parking area near Quanjitang. We arrive Quanjitang at 15:30 and complete today's hike. We take a #1062 bus back to Taipei.

abandoned chimney structure
This hike covered approximately 8 kilometers in seven and a half hours. The total ascent is about 850 meters in elevation and descent 550m. The members this time are all experienced hikers and the hike went very smoothly. These two ridge routes are difficult ones as there are basically no safety measures. If you are not experienced with rock routes, you would better stay away from them. It is all up to you even if there is any accident. This is not an official route and there is nobody but yourself to blame just in case. The difficulty level is 5 for the routes and 3 for the physical.

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