Climbing Etiquette? Not here…

Climbing in Korea is something else. You have a lot of really good rock and some interesting routes. The hikes in are great (when it is not a queue line) and the views from the top are usually scenic. But alas, despite the positives, climbing here can be the most irritating experience ever.

In any sport there are some ground rules that should be common knowledge, I like to call this etiquette. When riding BMX you follow simple rules:

-Don’t sit where people want to ride

-Don’t stand close to the edge of a quarter pipe

-Don’t snake (cut across) someones line

The list goes on but you get the point. Now what is the underlying theme to these simple unspoken rules? Being courteous to those around you. Kindergarten level thinking. This is a difficult concept to grasp for some people I know, but courtesy is lacking throughout Korea. Let me explain my experience of the culture. If you are friends with the person then you are gold, no different than the lengths you would go to for your friends in any culture. The opposite is that if they do not know you, then you go unnoticed 90% of the time, and what I perceive as rudeness (pushing, shoving, butting in line, taking turns, etc.) happens constantly.

Okay, so climbing. When I want to climb I want quiet and some fun, meet some people, whatever. Simple regular people stuff. But when I show up to a crag and there is 7 routes which 4 have ropes hanging from, and the rest have quick draws (you clip your rope into it) I just want to jump off the nearest cliff. So what is the problem you may be thinking. I can’t climb. Plain and simple. When you ask if you can get on the route next or if they are finished climbing you usually get this response: “yes go ahead”. Woah wait a second! Go ahead? This would be no problem but your gear is in a pile at the base of the climb, your quick draws are on the wall. “You can use them”. NO! I am not using some random gear of which I have no idea what the history behind its use has been. Then you are accompanied by either eye rolling, or the deepest and most dramatic sigh that a K-drama director would love.

The other joy of climbing here is when you find someone below you. Climbing beside (so close I can see your nose hair growing) or below another climber is dangerous and reckless. To those people: please go to another climb or wait your turn that way I don’t have to stop climbing and wait for you to pass. Wait a second, am I being courteous or just thinking about how if I fall I am going to break my ankle off your head.

I like to think that they have no idea what they are doing, or maybe it really is every person for themselves.

Yesterday I tried to go climbing. I waited for hours. I didn’t climb. Climbers, whoever you are and whatever your cultural background is, pull you shit off the wall when you are finished, don’t bring your brat kids, speakers, or copious amounts of booze and leave empty containers behind. Wait your turn, don’t belay 5 meters back from the wall, step on my rope, and climb under me. Go climbing, put your big boy/girl pants on and be a decent human to other humans and use some common sense.


By the way, it is not bad all the time. But go bouldering, it is probably more fun.

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