Posted by Danger on
October 12, 2014
Local climbers in Taiwan are blessed by great seaside climbing — when it doesn’t rain! This important caveat in this often water-logged island means prospective Long Dong climbers would do well to check the weather report before heading out.
The good news is that weather in Long Dong and the north-east coast in general is usually significantly better than locations further inland and year round climbing can be had for the meteorologically-savvy.
Taipei = LD?
The first rule of weather at LD is that it’s different from Taipei weather. Surrounded by mountains, precipitation often gathers over Taipei without much room to maneuver, whereas at Long Dong, the same clouds which would form rain in the city often move over the climbing areas without incident. Generally speaking, the weather at LD is going to be better than in the city, but especially in the winter, it’s not a sure thing, so its good practice to check the weather report before heading out for the day.
There’s no formal weather station at LD so instead the next best districts to check are Gongliao, and Ruifang districts. The 368 Township weather reports are your best bet.
The 368 township weather report will give you a probability of rain but this doesn’t always tell the full story and can be off by quite a bit sometimes. There have been days of “50% probability of precipitation” that have ended up being bone dry.
While forecasts can be wrong, Radar never lies. On the 360 Township weather report, scroll down the page and you can click on Precipitation or Radar to get a better picture.
The precipitation chart is color coded and will give you an idea of how wet the rock might be.
The radar chart shows the movement of rain clouds. Click on the chart for a larger view, including two and four hour time loops.
Remember you’re not looking at the whole island but just the northeast coast, and LD in particular.
The Season Matters
While it’s hard to tell sometimes, Taiwan has 4 seasons, and each one works a bit differently weather wise.
Autumn(mid September to November)
Generally speaking, Autumn is the best time to climb at LD, with temps low, a nice breeze in the air, and relatively low humidity.In the Autumn it can be worth going out to LD with up to 70% chance of rain on the forecast, and chances are you will still be able to get a good day of climbing in. Anything lower than 50% will probably be a clear day. Once again, check the forecast and the charts to be double sure, but as a rule, any day in the Fall that isn’t absolutely pouring is probably climbable to some degree. If you do get rain at the crag during the Autumn season try to find refuge and wait it out – there’s a good chance it’s just a passing cloud.
Winter(late November/early December to February)
While weather can change year to year, winter is generally a bit cold and wet – the dreariest time of year for Long Dong climbers. At the same time, the dry days in the winter hold some of the best conditions of the year. In the winter time it pays to be more conservative with the forecast — look for probabilities of 30% or lower. Winter rain is often more persistent than that in the Fall. If you get rain at the crag, it can be worth sticking around to try to wait it out, especially if the next bus is 2 hours away, but there’s just as a good a chance that the rain is there to stay.
Spring(March to May)
Spring is the 2nd best season to climb at Long Dong, with warmer temps than Winter, but still no sweltering heat. Rainfall is generally less than winter and reduces steadily except for the onset of “plum rain season” around May, which is better translated as “the days of endless rain”. While the rain does seem unending at times, fair weather days far outnumber the overcast ones in the Spring and LD climbers with an eye on the forecast are sure to find climbable days even in the midst of the “plum rain”.
Summer is one of the most popular seasons for local climbers, but with temperatures at over 30 degrees Celsius, most foreign climbers would disagree! It’s not all bad – as hot and humid as it is, rain is almost never on the forecast. To deal with the heat, make sure to bring plenty of water – freezing it beforehand is recommended. Make sure to bring bananas or other forms of electrolytes, and most importantly — seek the shade!
Typhoons are frequent visitors to Taiwan, and when they come, all the above goes out the window, instead, just go by the weather report. As the Typhoon approaches, it generally lowers temperatures, and reduces precipitation, meaning the day or two before a typhoon hits can be some of the best times to climb. Summer typhoons can bring excellent, cool and dry conditions to an otherwise sweltering time of the year. Just don’t get to close to the date, as once the Typhoon hits, incredibly strong winds and yes, rain, will hit as well. While the cliffs at LD offer fairly good protection from the sea, be extra careful when typhoons are near as the waves do get extremely high and become very powerful. Make sure to stay away from the ocean and plan an exit path in case the tide gets high, especially if approaching from long lane or backdoor.
If you get caught out at the crag in the rain, there’s a few areas you can go to seek cover:
- Schoolgate – The gully of “First Corner” offers some protection but the best place to dodge the wet is the boulder-cave by “Oh”
- Long Lane – The interior of Long Lane by “Reach for the Sky” offers good protection from the rain
- Music Hall – If you don’t have time to head to Long Lane, there’s a small spot around Big Drum and Fingercrack which offers a bit of shelter.
- Grand Auditorium – Be careful hiding out here as heavy rain can cause rockfall – it may be wiser to head over to First Cave for shelter
- First Cave – It’s a freakin’ cave.
- Second Cave – Ditto
- Golden Valley – Bikini Cove, and the entrance to Euro Wall under “Golden Shower”, ironically, offer complete shelter
- Backdoor – besides the micro cave left of Who Fooled Who, you can dodge the rain between the ledge and the start of some of the climbs on the right.