This weekend marked my first attempt at outdoor climbing. In fact, other than a few times when I was quite young, it was my first real attempt at climbing rather than bouldering. At the gym in Taebaek, the walls aren’t very high so you work your way across in more technical movements rather than upwards. There’s no need for a harness, and you fall into thick mats if you miss a move.
I took to bouldering pretty fast. Although my technique and strength is slowly building, I’ve enjoyed it from the start. Climbing however, is a bit more nerve-racking. I’ve never considered myself to have a fear of heights. I love roller coasters–in fact I even went on the tallest, fastest roller coaster in the world (at least at the time), Top Fuel Dragster in Cleveland. I’ve stood on the glass floor of the CN Tower without blinking an eye. But there’s something different about having to hold on to an exposed rock face with your own hands and feet, and nothing but a harness keeping you from the ground.
Of course, it’s completely safe. And as I grew more comfortable with the feeling, I started taking more chances, reaching higher points, and even finishing a few routes. I had Luc belaying me the whole time, which helped with the nerves. The last think I needed was a miscommunication with one of our Korean climbing buddies to stress me out even more on the wall!
In fact, the other climbers loved that Luc and I were climbing together. They kept calling us a “climbing couple” and insisted that I learn to belay so we can have “climbing dates.” They would tell us to go climb in the more secluded area so we could have a little date together (which I think was also a gentle way of saying the other routes were too hard for me so I should go to the easier area).
After the first day of climbing, we enjoyed an evening of samgyupsal, soju, and camping. In Korea, it seems to be completely acceptable to just pitch a tent wherever you want. So we slept in a totally public park next to a river with loads of people walking by all night. But hey, it was free and there was a washroom right next to us!
Ramyeon and leftover rice for breakfast to power up for day two!
The crew! Thanks for a great weekend.
Enjoying some tagkabli on our way out!
My favourite part of the trip was just relaxing in nature for the weekend. I loved the climbing, and as I grew more comfortable on the rock, I got more excited for each climb. But just having the chance to unplug, enjoy the quiet, and take in the sights of the forest was the perfect change from the crazy busy weekends we’ve had the past month.
If you’re in Korea and interested in climbing, we were at a great spot near Chuncheon.
Here are a couple maps of the area we climbed in. You want to head for a temple called Gangseonsa (강선사) outside of Chuncheon. When you pull off the main road (yellow) you’ll come up to a very narrow, winding road. You can park at the temple and from there you have to walk. Head back towards the road (away from the temple) and turn right up a big paved hill (about 20m from the temple). Follow the hiking path for about 10 minutes (turning right at the first fork) and you’ll find the site!
For more detailed directions check out this link to the temple on google maps!