Sunday, July 19, 2009
Last weekend was a lot of fun. We went out climbing with friends on Friday and Saturday for two very different styles of climbing. On Friday, we went bouldering. Actually it was more boulder hunting than anything because the area hasn't been developed for boulders. For those of you unfamiliar, bouldering is a short, stout version of rock climbing. Instead of using a harness and rope to climb up a 15+ meter wall, we use "crash pads" and climb smaller rocks. The style of bouldering is typically more powerful than regular climbing. And what you get tends to be a 5-10 move problem that is just barely possible. You start at the bottom and you have success by getting on top of the boulder.
So Friday, we went to Seoraksan and hunted the riverbed for boulders that weren't being scoured by water. It had rained the day before, so the water was higher than normal. But nevertheless, by the end of the day, we had found a few really good lines, gone swimming, and were exhausted. Rebs even got the first (and only) ascent on a line that we found and developed. Really tiny, fingertip ridges (see above picture). We finished the day with a delectable dinner at a restaurant near Sokcho, and then headed back to Gangneung with two of our friends.
The next morning, we got up fairly early and headed South to Mureung Valley in Donghae. Mureung isn't as famous or vast as Seoraksan, but there is still some really good climbing, especially for people who are just getting into the tradional style (hence the name "trad"). I have some experience in it, but have yet to take a serious fall on gear. I should probably explain further. Trad climbing is, in it's basic form, using pieces of metal to wedge in the cracks of rock as your protection as you climb upwards. It is much more scary than sport climbing (where there are pre-drilled bolts secured in the rock to clip as you climb) because if you don't place a piece correctly it can pop out when you fall, which means you would fall FAR!
Now that I've got your blood running (or at least my parents), I can tell you about our day. We hiked in and arrived at the rock around lunch time. So we ditched our packs and gear and went down to a nice view of a big waterfall and ate our lunch on a large rock with old inscriptions in it. The whole time we ate, we were surrounded by Koreans taking pictures, eating, drinking soju, and avoiding the sun with their black polyester and sun hats. Our largest source of entertainment was when a Korean man, probably a little off balanced from a few shots of soju, leapt from the bank to a small rock in the water. He teetered there for a moment, but was losing his balance. So he jumped to another, slightly smaller rock, off balance as before, then to another, and another, until finally, SPLASH he went shin deep into the water. I realized I had been holding my breath, hoping he might catch his balance, but secretly waiting for the inevitable.
After lunch we went back up to climb. The rock is a fairly sharp granite with few obvious cracks and small sparse features elsewhere. We ended up only doing 2 routes in all, but that seemed to be plenty because we were all so new to it. I compare it with running. If you go out and run after a year of sedation, you're likely not going to get very far before needing to walk. It was the same for us. Even though we all have a lot of climbing experience (predominantly sport climbing), trad climbing is a different feel altogether. You are using different muscles, and also have to develop a new technique. So the first time you try it, you tend to use more energy than normal. This was the case for all of us. By the end of two climbs, we were all pretty exhausted. And we were probably tired from the 40 minute hike up, and all the hiking and bouldering from the day before, and from lack of sleep. As a climber, one tends to develop a full slew of excuses ;)
So for those of you who climb, sorry for the lack of details. And for those who don't climb, I hope it wasn't all too overwhelming. But hopefully everyone can enjoy the pictures. The enclosed link is one of the lines we found the first day, but the video is of one of our friends climbing it the next day. Some of them went back to the same spot on Saturday while the rest of us were at Mureung Valley.
Posted by Dusty