Wuling Pass West -- one mile from the summit.
Cycling Wuling Pass from the west out of Xiulin Township in central Taiwan is a grueling 40 kilometer (24.7 mile) climb to 3,300 m (10,813’), gaining 2600 meters (8,530’) at 6.4% average grade. With those statistics as a foundation, riding Wuling Pass from the west ranks as the 12th most difficult bike climb in the world.
Wuling West is not as popular as the eastern approach, but it is extremely challenging and offers a different cycling experience. While the eastern approach goes through the breathtaking Taroko Gorge at the beginning of the ride, the western approach takes us through several towns over the first half of the climb.
There is also much more traffic on this route, although it is a great experience riding through smaller Taiwanese villages on our bikes.
Wuling West is a bit more tropical than the east and there is a long footpath that overlooks a steep canyon, mountains and hillside farms.
Footpath at mile 10.6 (1.2 km / 0.7 miles long) -- fee required.
The Cingjing Skywalk is 1.2 km long and offers stunning views of the farms, mountains and canyon surrounding it. Tickets are limited to 3,400 per day, so be sure to arrive early if you plan on using the walkway.
Footpath, hillside farming and Wan-ta Reservoir.
Middle section of the climb has lush surroundings.
Road is along a steep cliff towards the top.
Much of the climb is in Taroko National Park.
Since Wuling Pass lies within a national park, the wildlife in the area is diverse. According to Taroko National Park’s website, 152 species of birds have been recorded there, including 14 species that are unique to Taiwan. Additionally, 45 species of large mammals, including the black bear, Formosan wild boar, and the Formosan Macaque, can be seen in abundance in some of the more undisturbed areas within the park. We were lucky enough to see some Formosan Rock Monkeys playing in the trees along our route up Wuling Pass East.
Final approach to the summit.
Summit sign and viewpoint bottom right center of photo -- across from parking lot.
The final 13 kilometers (8 miles) of the Wuling West bike climb overlap the World #2 Hardest Bike Climb, Wuling North.
Steepest Gradient Segments.
SOME BACKGROUND ON TAIWAN
Taiwan in relation to China.
The cultures of Taiwan tend to be a hybrid, incorporating traditional elements of Chinese culture, as well as Japanese culture, traditional Confucianist beliefs, and Western values (Taiwan's Culture). Taiwan has so much rich culture within itself. Examples of Taiwan’s rich culture include: National Palace Museum (home to over 650,000 pieces of Chinese bronze, jade, calligraphy, painting, and porcelain), and a strong musical leaning with classical artists such as violinist Cho-Liang Lin and pianist Ching-Yun Hu, in addition to a national fondness for Karaoke (Taiwan's Culture). Another unique aspect of Taiwan is its vast wildlife and national park system. Though a small country in size, Taiwan has nine national parks, each full of unique and wonderful beauty. You can learn more about Taiwan’s national parks system here. Other unique experiences include riding the Maokong Gondola, a glass-bottomed gondola that will take you over fields where oolong tea is grown. If you ride the Gondola to the final stop at Maokong station, you can visit your choice of numerous tea houses and enjoy the views of the tea farms and surrounding hiking trails. On Taiwan’s northeast coast is Yehliu Geopark, a narrow cape composed of unique rock formations formed by strong sea winds.
A big thank you to our cycling friend living in Taiwan, Mark Blackburn, who invited us to join his cycling club for this climb. Without that invitation, we may never have experienced one of the greatest cycling climbs in the world.
And a huge portion of gratitude to Jan-Hendrik Meidinge, a Sapien Cycling Club member and manager of the Grand Hyatt Taipei. JH arranged for our lodging (the best we have ever had -- and we don’t get paid to say that, by the way), our driver (Simon), access to the Hyatt’s Grand Club Lounge (WOW!) and the exceptional buffet breakfast available each morning. We stayed at the Grand Hyatt Taipei upon arrival to Taiwan and the evening before leaving -- a perfect start and finish to our Asian Cycling Trip (Mt. Fuji, Japan; Doi Inthanon, Thailand; Wuling Pass, Taiwan).
Grand Hyatt Taipei -- middle of photo.
Left to right: John, Mitch, Simon, Javier.
Simon drove us to and from the airport, as well as three days on Wuling Pass -- he was AWESOME. Simon can be reached through the Grand Hyatt Taipei at 886-2-2720-1234.
THE BAD NEWS
Drone Operating 101: Never, NEVER use the “land” feature of your DJI drone, always bring it home manually or click “return to home”. I have nearly lost a couple drones by mistakenly clicking “land” instead of “return to home” (heck, maybe it’s just me!). My luck ran out on Wuling West -- lost one of the PJAMM Air Force 😪
It’s up there somewhere! The problem? That tree hangs over a sheer cliff.
Drone search crew.