Mark Roche, who lives in Taiwan but originally hails from Dublin, has become the first Irish person to complete Taiwan’s 100 Peaks Challenge. The challenge requires climbing 100 Taiwanese mountains, each of which is over 3,000 metres tall. Whilst Taiwan has 268 3,000+ metre mountains the 100 mountains that make up the 100 Peaks Challenge have been specially selected based on their beauty, uniqueness, and difficulty.

Yushan, the Jade Mountain, Taiwan’s tallest mountain, which Mark climbed as part of the challenge, is 3,952 metres tall. Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s tallest mountain, comes in at nearly a quarter of the size at 1,038 metres tall.

Mark Roche climbs Nanhu Mountain Credit: Richard Foster

Only 700 people have ever completed the challenge, less than 20 of them foreigners. All the mountains included in the challenge are alpine high-altitude hikes, and the weather can change quickly, and potentially lethally, during the climb. Some of the mountains can be completed in a day, but climbing others requires expeditions of up to 12 days through very rugged wilderness.

Mark Roche climbs Nanhu Mountain Credit: Richard Foster

Mark, who works in Kaohsiung as a hiking and cycling logistics expert, told Gript that he had spent 20 years attempting to complete the challenge. He said it meant “everything” to him to finally be able to finish the challenge, and that it was “hard to express the joy and relief” he felt. The challenge, Mark said, was “the measure by which all hikers in Taiwan are judged.”

Mark told Gript that “All the exhaustion, excitement and elation and the amount of time I’ve invested over the past 20 years culminated on one faithful day in April 2021.” He cautioned those considering the challenge to “make no mistake that hiking all of them is something that will push you to the limits of your ability and test your resolve.

Mark Roche climbs Nanhu Mountain Credit: Richard Foster