Sara and I have now been to Gangwha Island crag three times. The crag is absolutely ridiculous to get to. I have spent quite a bit of time exploring the island on my road bike so I have an idea of the distances between the small villages and roughly how long it should take in a car. But this is Korea, and some things take a long time.
We take the bus to Gangwha bus terminal to catch a bus that only runs once an hour. Fine, no problem. But when you show up 20 minutes before you think that the bus is going to come (the bus app gives to ETA) and then shows up after 2 hours the day ends up getting wasted. Our first adventure out there involved getting off at the wrong bus stop, showing up to a crowded crag, getting on a chossy route, and then a hike to the top of the mountain to set up a rappel :). Our friend Krystopher ended up showing up after looking for hours to find the crag as well.
The crag was packed. There were some young kids there with their parents and a top rope setup on each route, except the chossy route that looked solid. I started to lead it and about halfway up I was just pulling huge chunks of granite onto Sara, a few broken foothold and handholds later and I was making a new route! I decided it would be better to bail not knowing what the rest of the route was going to be like. I have never had the chance to squeeze rock and make it crumble like that. Maybe I am just really strong. 🙂
I began my hike around the mountain using the islands in the background as my reference point to find the route I was on. Well the hike around the top was awesome because of the view, and the pretty exciting scramble across the edge of the cliff. Once the terrain got steeper I used a bunch of slings as aids to get myself down to the second tier of the cliff and down to where the route is. I set my rappel off some bomber trees and lowered down to retrieve my gear. What Sara didn’t know was that the whole time I was scrambling around the top I could see that she was invited over by the Korean climbers to eat lunch with them. It was ok though, as soon as my feet hit the ground I had all kinds of food in my hands.
The routes at this crag are quite interesting, they start off dead vertical, turn into slab, and finish with an overhanging roof to low angle slab with no handhold to the chains. This makes the average 5.11 a little bit harder than you would think. I have onsighted one of the routes at this crag and redpointed a few others, there is a few more difficult climbs that I would like to get in before the weather goes south on us. But hey, we are climbing still.
Gangwha Island Crag, I recommend checking it out just for the sunset if anything else. My favorite place in so far has been Gangwha Island. What more can I ask for? A good view, quiet, low traffic for my rides, hills that take 20 minutes to climb, and some good ol’ rockclimbing.