Mt. Ta-pa-chien lies between Hsinchu County’s Chien-shih Township and Miaoli County’s Tai-an Township. It’s on the northern end of the Sheng-ling Ridge of the Hsueh-shan Range, and its main peak has an elevation of 3,492 m. It is roughly cylindrical, so the four sides are sheer cliffs and devoid of vegetation. Because of its unusual shape, it’s nicknamed Taiwan’s “peak of the century,” and because it looks a bit like a covered winejar, local people call it “Winejar Mountain.”
Since Mt. Ta-pa-chien in Atayal and Saisyat belief is sacred, the land of their ancestors, climbing it was long forbidden. It was not until 1927 that a Japanese mountaineering team climbed it for the first time, but it is said that afterward the springwater seeping from its cliffs was not wine-sweet as it was before. One of the reasons Mt. Ta-pa-chien is so alluring is its daunting geography. The hard sandstone has been weathered into thick scree. It’s hard to catch a glimpse of this beautiful place in Taiwan’s high mountains above horizontal rock strata.