With credit and thanks to:
As of May 2001, there are about 30 'known' artificial walls in and around Taipei. This is good news considering just five years ago there were perhaps 10. Most of these walls or towers are situated in University Trekking Clubs and on campus of secondary and primary schools, with the rest in private Trekking Clubs or personal gyms. If you have a Chinese friend willing to help you translate, a master list of these places PLUS others (including outdoor crags) in rest of Taiwan is located at the following excellent site in Chinese:
Mei Chu Rock Site 梅竹岩館: www.cc.nctu.edu.tw/~mclub/meichu/
I will list here the top seven of these walls based on popularity with local climbers, consistent opening times, and ease of access. Places not selected usually have unstable opening times or require permission or membership (i.e. money) for access. None of these places provides gear, so you must bring your own.
Directions are given, but for some certain roads not all the spellings
will match because of the new romanized/pinying arrangement. But if you
have any problems finding these places it usually helps to have a slip
of paper with the words:
"Excuse me, I'm looking for a nearby rock wall/gym, can you show me the direction to this address?"
However, I strongly advise you to learn a few words of Mandarin instead of using English or whatever and miss out on what Taiwan has to offer. Whichever accent you speak in, the boys/girls will think it's cute and help you out. Don't stay a year in Taiwan and just say 'thank you', 'how are you,' and 'another Taiwan Beer please.'
Hsin Tien Liu Gong Park Tower
Eight meter tall 'Entreprise' Rock Tower with four sides. This tower is good for beginners to intermediates. Popular with the local kids as it is situated inside a new park in plain view. Completed in summer of 2000. Padded rubber on the ground all around. Bolted but no quickdraws or ropes in place.
Here are a couple of pictures of the Hsin Tien Liu Gong Park Tower: [pic1] [pic2]
How to get there: Exit at the Hsin Tien City Hall station and walk north, staying on the main road and heading for the intersection of Besin and Zhong Zheng road. This park is situated about 300 meters the station. Look for the park when you get to the intersection (with a big pedestrian bridge) and you will see tower easily. Open all the time; free of charge.
- In the heat of Taiwan's summer (don't you love the humidity...), go at night as this tower is illuminated until about 10 pm and it's cooler and breezy in the park. I usually go on Thursday nights.
- March of this year, some guy, with good artistic intentions I'm sure, spray painted the wall to make it look prettier. Unfortunately, he used a glossy enamel paint or whatever. As a result most of the small features on the wall are slick at best. Exercise caution.
- A lot of people stroll by and stick around to watch, so take care of your valuables.
Hsin Tien Northern Freeway #2 Wall
Eight meter tall, free standing Entre Prises rock tower. This tower is a sibling to the Liu Gong park tower. Why is it called North Freeway #2 wall? Because it is situated beneath the steel sky bridge of what is locally known as the "second northern freeway". (The "second northern freeway" is actually marked on maps as Freeway #3, so please don't get confused.) That's right, you climb underneath the highway traffic. Currently the only outdoor artificial wall that can be used during rain, but it does get darker quickly because of the overshadowing bridge. It's a newer wall completed October of 2000. Popular with clubs who don't have their own walls. Open all the time; no charge. Bolted but no quickdraws or ropes in place.National Taiwan University Rock Tower
Here are a couple of pictures of the Hsin Tien North Freeway #2 Wall: [pic1] [pic2].
How to get there: Find your way to the Hsintien City Hall MRT station first, exit and you will immediately see a pedestrian bridge. Cross the bridge and head south (right hand side for those of you who don't carry a compass - you should), along this main road (Besin) until you come to the 2nd set of lights with the street named BinLang (betel nut) road, turn left here into a long narrow street, pass a daytime tradition market (chickens, veggies and stuff, watch out for mopeds and trucks), until you come to a set of light on a four lane main road named Zhongsing Road. Cross this light directly across to narrow street that slopes slightly upward, still BinLang. Walk 150 meters into this street, and after passing a construction site you will see the towers (usually obscured by a lot of parked cars) right underneath the freeway on your right.
- Finding this wall can be tricky but worth it, anytime you get lost, just look up towards the wooded hills and look for the big green steel highway structure and head for that. Don't bother asking the locals because they will usually say, "Oh really, there's a wall here?!"
- Bring insect repellent and tarp. Some mosquitoes around because of the drainage ditch, not too bad, but annoying. The tarp is for the rope because many packs of snarling dogs roam the area and deposit all over the place. You don't want to lead half way up the wall and put the rope in your mouth to clip before discovering that it tastes 'grainy'. Yum.
- Go on weekends and raining days. Not illuminated at night.
Five meter tall Entre Prise Rock tower. Slopes to minor overhang.National Chengchi University wall
How to get there: go in NTU (KungKuan or Gongguan MRT Station) and find the central sport facility with basketball, tracks, etc. Look for the volleyball courts and handball walls near the center close to the 'pond'. Tower is situated right next to them. Open all the time; not illuminated at night. Free of charge. NTU student climbers usually hang around on Thursday afternoons I think. Bolted but no quickdraws or ropes in place.
- NTU's holds are good, but the board structure is a bit "springy" so exercise caution. Usually no bolts until 2 meters off the ground. If you get bored, there are a lot of pull-up bars nearby.
- A good way to meet the NTU coeds, so watch how you belay.
Two panel walls side-by-side, one 13m tall (newer one) one 9m tall (older and dangerous; exercise caution). Both walls are about 3 meters wide, featuring good pumpy overhangs and average incline of -10+. Wide variety of holds on prefab panels (Pyramide, Nicros and whatever else the kids scavenged elsewhere). These walls used to hold many important national events in Taiwan and still serve as an important training ground for many local climbers. Open all day (until the campus is closed off, I assume at 10pm). You are not supposed to climb without the NCCU Trekking Club's permission and the left hand wall is covered with a tarp to prevent this. Illuminated at night. Bolted but no quickdraws or ropes in place.
How to get there: Find your way to MuCha MRT station in southeast part of Taipei county. Find bus 282 about 50 meters from the station exit. Wait for bus 282 heading to NCCU (don't cross the street; the 282 stop on the other side of the street is going back to Taipei, the opposite direction). About 7 to 8 stops later (15 minutes), the bus deposits you about 20 meters from one of the NCCU's side gates. Enter, walk straight on until you see the running track. Go beyond this on the right hand side and you will see the walls around the corner of the main gymnasium. 15 minutes from the bus stop.
- Go on weekends and during nights as you are most likely meet the locals who have the tarps down already.
- MuCha receives a lot of rainfall so check the weather before heading out.
- A lot of cute NCCU coeds stroll by so watch how you belay.
- When you board the bus, tell the driver you are going to "Zeng Tai" if you say "Cheng chi", they will never get it.
Keepon Climbing and Camping Store basement gym
If you live in the crowded 'West Bank' of Taipei county like Zong Ho (Guinness book of records for most populated sq. km. on the planet; we beat Hong Kong's Bird St.) or SangZhong City, this is the gym for you. Three meters tall, 90 sq. meter gym situated in the basement of the 'Keepon' climbing store. One side of wall is -5 inclines and another small section - 35. Intermediate ceiling workout. The owner is Mr. Tsai, a kind old man who is usually minding the store. Officially he charges NT 100 per use and NT 500 per annum. But the first time use is free. I've paid a membership because I don't like freeloaders, but I don't think Mr. Tsai strongly enforces the paying part. So be polite and buy some chalk when you are there. A good, home-like gym with all sorts of holds, both commercial and homemade, and is excellent for setting traverse problems. Opened from 12 noon to 10 pm everyday except on holidays and Wednesday nights after 7 pm because they have regularly scheduled lectures on climbing, river tracing, etc. by one of the local clubs. Air-conditioned. Tel: 02 2311 5438, always call before going.
How to get there: Get to the Hsimen MRT station, get out at the #1 exit. Go across the police station and head left. Turn right at first light on ChangSa road and left immediately on Chiling South road. Turn right on Quayoung road and after 50 meters left on Liouzhou road (a trophy store on the corner). Go 75 meters down this street and look for the store on your right hand side next to a dry cleaner.
Dizzy? Ok, smile politely, grab somebody, and show them this address:台北市柳州街38號
- I usually go there on Tuesday nights to meet some people. But it's quiet most of the time. Mr. Tsai leaves you alone in the basement.
- There's a bathroom on the first floor where you can change.
- They've got a boom box so bring your favorite workout music.
- Ask permission to turn on the AC and fan.
- Check out "Hsimen Ting" an extremely popular shopping area, while You are there.
Lan Chow Street Rock Gym (a lesser known name is the Taipei Rock Climbing Gym but everybody calls it 'Lan Chow Street')
Officially the gym of the Chinese Alpine Association and you must buy their membership (NT500) before you can buy the gym's membership (NT500) for a year's pass. Hence it is popular only with a small local elite. Excellent gym with about 130 sq. meter of climbing area on a 3 meter wall. -10 to -45 of pumpy inclines and roof. Campus board, pull up bars and weight lifting bench are there if you get bored waiting in line to do the next V15 problem. All in all this is the hardest gym in Taipei and on Friday nights it's the place to be and see all of the Northern Taiwan's bad ass 5.16 bolt lords work out. The facilities are basic (toilet with running water and windows for you to spit out), and the gym is unpainted and grungy, but hey, you are there to sweat.
Opening time is not consistent, usually Tuesday to Friday nights 7 -10 pm. Always call ahead and especially on weekends. They usually have bright young staffers who speak English.
Tel: 02 2553 0373 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chinese Address: 台北市蘭州街30號三樓
How to get there: Exit at the Mingchuan W. Road MRT station, turn left and head towards the big pedestrian bridge in 50 meters, cross the bridge to the other side and walk forward 150 meters. You will see a big overpass bridge. Continue straight under and next to the bridge on the sidewalks on the left hand side for another 150 meters and you will reach a 'Niko mart' convenience store and a gas station across the street. This is Lanchow St. Turn left here and walk about 30 meters and the gym is on the right hand side at #30 on the 3rd floor, right across from a traditional temple. There's a blue plastic sign (in Chinese) that says 'Chinese Alpine Association, Youth Organization and Technical Climbing Committee'. If you go past the barber shop with the swirling lights, you have gone too far. Haircuts cost about NT450.
- Opening time is not consistent, but usually busiest on Friday nights.
- Yeah man, I know the grimy staircase look scary, but go up anyways, unless you want to solo the 5.14 burglar bars outside the building to the 3rd floor. Don't tease the dogs on the 2nd floor; that's somebody's house.
- Boom box available. Usually the kids like techno or R&B. No country music please; that's for us trad/ice climbers.
- Shirts optional. Topless climbing may be "required". No air conditioning inside -- just blood, sweat and more dynos to that 1/16 inch mono digit blob on the ceiling....
- You can usually get in for free for the first time, or if you say, "Yeah man, I know Yuji, Arnold, Francois or Chris, we are like that ...close."
- Chicks dig the French accent.
Taipei Youth Activity Center
Situated inside the new Youth activity building (about 1 km away from the Main Train station) on the 9th floor, the dimensions are 18 meters wide and 12 meters tall. A good intermediate to advanced wall. A few top ropes are provided, but better to bring your own lead rope and at least 10 quickdraws. You have to sign a waiver form in Chinese to get in and will be asked to show you are capable of basic belay/safety skills.Conclusion: You will notice that all of these gyms are either at the center or south part of Taipei. This is because these areas have a higher density of people and I guess somebody figured that since people in Tienmu, Neihu, Shinlin and Peitou have Big Cannon Cliff and Hot Seas, artificial walls are not so important. If you want to go to these outdoor areas, your best bet is go to a local gym and wall and hook up with someone. Places like Hot Seas are difficult to give a description on how to get there (no 'Niko marts', gas stations, or stationary barking dogs). Locals are friendly and hospitable and English is usually understood. Chinese would be even better.
Opening time is not consistent yet, because they want to keep 2/3 of the times for corporate motivation classes and boy scouts, etc. As of this writing, they haven't posted a final schedule but it's likely they will reserve Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday at designated 3 hr. blocks for recreational climbers. No telephone number yet. Just call my cell: 0920904886.
Price is NT 150 for 3 hrs. Expensive, but I think worth it once or twice a month. For some of my expat. friends who can't stand the humidity, the ac inside is a godsend and helps them keep their sanity.
At the corner of Lin San South Road and Jen-Ai Road. It's a big brand new building on the northeast corner with a police station next to it. Get out at the NTU hospital MRT station, take #2 exit and walk east. It's about 500 meters from the station. It's on the 9th floor.
Places to buy gear in Taipei
There are really only a few places that I recommend to get gear (they are not paying me to write this). If you are a bolt lord, then you can get all the equipment in the city. But if you are a trad climber like myself, it's better to bring your own cams and chocks, etc from overseas. These are usually not in stock in here and can be expensive. Carabiners, quickdraws, rope, etc. are mostly of European make.
1) 'Tang San You' (Mountaineer's Friend in Chinese, same store featured in the Lonely Planet Guides), circa 1970. One of the oldest climbing and trekking stores in Taiwan. Good quality import and domestic stuff (cheap backpacks and tents; ask to see a catalog) The store is owned by a family, (you will a see a group of women spanning four generations running the store, plus Ah Zoun, one of their brothers, handling the technical stuff upstairs). They operate on a 5% margin I think so don't bother bargaining on items unless it's over 3000NT. Rock gear on the second floor. During the evening and weekends when it's very busy, they usually have college part timers who are knowledgeable about the gear and speak English. Tel: 02 2311 6027
2) San Shui, they are right next to Tang San You but have a smaller selection of stuff. Sometimes you are able to find odd sizes here. Some English. Tel: 02 2361 9507
Both stores above are right next to each other, 'Tang San You' is the one with a chop/engraving counter in the front (run by their father, I think). Don't you love Taiwan family stores? Exit at the main train station (that's Taipei Train Station MRT stop) and take the Cosmo Hotel exit (I forget which # exit). Go up and go to the main intersection of Chungshan and Chungshaio road. Turn left here and you will see the stores after 30 meters. 10 minutes from the exit.
3) Keepon, you already know (see climbing wall info above). Small collection of shoes, biners and draws.
All 3 stores, depending on the season, will have winter gear also.
- Harnesses and shoes are readily available here, but one thing I have discovered from helping a few expat friends is that sizing is a problem. Stores rarely have over USA size 9 shoes and over large waist sizes. So bring your own if you can.
- Imported stuff usually cost about 10 to 15% more expensive than their home retail price. Exceptions are the shoes imported from Korea (Five Ten) or Hong Kong (La Sportiva). But when you calculate the freight and cost of mail ordering, it's about the same.
- Rope is usually sold at 45 meters long, which is ok for 80% of the routes around in Taiwan, but bring a 60 meter if you can so you can climb the full pitch and rappel down with one set up.
- There isn't a place in Taipei that rents gear so you will have borrow it from someone if you are new to the sport. There are a few full-time instructors but none speak English. So your best bet is to go to the walls above and hang around the locals.
Drop me a line if you have any more questions or want to climb. Any ice or alpine climbers out there?
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