Monday, October 24, 2005

The Bataan Deathmarch would seem easy compared to this!

Yesterday, I finished a challenging hike over Seorak's main peak, Daecheongbong. If I'd been in shape and a little better prepared, it might have been fun. In fact, large portions of the trip were fun but by the second half of the trip, I simply left my camera in my pack and marched, doggedly, painfully, grumblingly on to finish the damn thing.

My hiking partner, a coworker of my wife's, in contrast, was full of energy throughout the hike and leapt from rock to rock like a mountain goat.

I don't normally like to hike on the weekend, especially on a weekend when the nation's attention is focussed on the mountain. The news of early snow brought the crowds out and just before we reached the summit, it was buzzed and filmed by a KBS chopper. Actually, the crowds weren't so bad and when we caught up to other groups I had a chance to rest before we passed them.

That's right. Even though I am whining and complaining about how painful the hike was, we passed more than a hundred people.

We started at O-saek and went up the south side of the mountain, reaching patches of snow at about 900m and walking in continuous snow at about 1500m. The last bit of the ascent was not that steep and our footing was secure.

The top was windy but not too bad. Except for the top, I was in shirtsleeves throughout the hike. We waited in line then posed for the required photos (I didn't take any at the top) then hiked down to the mountain hut to eat.

Then we started down the north side. There was continuous snow to about 800 m and patches almost all the way down. The first part of the north slope is steep and we didn't bring any spikes. We had to hop and slide from exposed rock to exposed rock. Also, and I'm not proud to say this; from tree to tree. WhenI had the energy, I felt bad for smashing into the trees but I soon gave up caring.

Here are a few of my pics. I may post more when my hiking partner gives me his (click to enlarge).


Nomad said...

If I just didn't have such a fear of heights...

GI Korea said...

That is the same route I took when I climbed the mountain this past spring. I really love the Osaek area, beautiful place. It took me 4 hours to get to the summit from Osaek and about 5-6 hours to get to Sorak-dong from there.

If you can believe this I was actually more exhaused after climbing Woraksan last week then I was after climbing Soraksan because of the amount of steep stairs and inclines that have to be climbed on the mountain.

kwandongbrian said...

The Osaek-Seorakdong route gains another 40m of metal stairs and walkways each year, I feel.

Nomad, I had a fair fear of heights on the downslope side myself. The steep slope with a sheer drop on one or both sides and 10cm (4inches) of snow made me gasp and shudder a few times.

Richardson said...

I did the same thing in June this year, and I also was not prepared for the O-saek side. The last time I was there was the other side, with the cable car, lots of kids, and food/drink vendors along the trail every km or so. So I was not prepared for the climb, as in in-shape, or with enough water. I did it, and my legs were like rubber after. Those who live by the office, die by the office…