Here is the map of the climb: http://app.strava.com/activities/82789154
This Sunday was especially exiting. We finally had the opportunity to go rock climbing and explore. I have been looking at climbing crags for months leading up to leaving, and I printed out some Google maps directions to this crag in Gunpo. Which is quite the trip from Tongjin. What was supposed to take 2 hours took almost 5 to get to the base of the cliff. A few mistakes in the subway an uncertainty as to which line would be faster, missing a stop, and just the general “where are we” came up a few times.
We made our way to Gunpo and followed this hand drawn map from Korea on the Rocks attempting to find the Surisan sport crag. Our experience with Koreans so far is that most are quite helpful just like any other place Canada (except Quebec). In Korea when people start a sport or any new activity they go all out purchasing every piece of gear needed. It is not uncommon to see people dressed to the nines with all the latest outdoor gear and 40+ litre backpacks with nothing in them just to go for a walk on a groomed trail in the woods. We encountered one of these groups in the Surisan subway station and one woman with particularly good English said we could tag along if needed. We declined to take that offer and took our chances with the hand drawn map.
After being extra observant of our surroundings because we really just wanted to go rock climbing at this point we made it to the base of the Surisan Woodland Park. We had already been travelling for 3 ½ hours and now had to figure out where this crag with 10 routes was hiding in this massive park. The trek was uphill and never ending. The paved path at the bottom was much easier to walk on then the granite rock field that was strewn across the forest floor.
During this adventure we came to an old temple, a nice break to the uphill hike and quite rewarding to see something that wasn’t just the same old city scape. After the temple we continued going up and finally to a very steep single track path leading to cliffs that I could barely make out in the distance. Success! The crag was full of people, allowing us to only climb 3 different routes, a 5.10a, 5.10b, and 5.10c. Sara finished the 10a, and 10b on top rope and I lead the rest.
So crag etiquette, for those who don’t know it is just basically how not to be a jackass. Every single route had quick-draws (things you clip your rope into) left in the hangers, and every route had a rope left in it with no one climbing. Come on people, if you aren’t climbing pull your rope and clean your gear off the route. We waiting for 30min and finally someone pulled the draws off a 10b. We asked if he could pull his rope, and after looking around at his friends he finally did.
Climbing on granite is much different that Ontario limestone. The granite at this crag was super sharp. Painfully sharp. Which in-turn made for some interesting foot placements. The death triangle (as expected) was found at the top of the climb. I would prefer proper chains, but oh well. After sending, and flashing some routes we climbed up to the top of the cliff and this mini mountain.
The view was awesome and made the day totally worth every minute. It brought me back to the uncertainty and confusion of my Tour de Vav bike tour with my brother. Sara had never had to hike this far on such difficult terrain with a loaded back pack before and it was awesome to see her so stoked for accomplishing a pretty substantial climb.
On the way home we decided to keep the adventure going and took a different dirt road, which eventually lead to Surisan station, it added at least an hour to our overall trip home, which took about 3 hours total.
So a lot of travel time and walking around in the woods this weekend. So far Sunday has been my best day in South Korea, I can’t wait to go to the national park!