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Newer Page 755 of 968 Older Full Trip Report
Korea Seoul Hiking Gwanaksan

13 September 2011

Gwanaksan

Today I climbed over the mountain that seperates Seoul from Gwacheon called Gwanaksan, it was fantastic.
The internet doesnt have too much information on the best route to take, and is full of conflicting information that climbing it is either easy, or death defying.
I had my route planned the best I could, and got on the train after drinking a huge coffee and a gallon of water.
For the trip I planned to take a large bottle of Pocari Sweat and 2 museli bars, as I have no backpack.
At this time of the morning on a holiday, the train was pretty much full of people in full on mountaineering gear. All their shoes were 'K2' brand, they all had huge back packs, ropes, gps, poles etc.
The internet did mention this as being complete overkill, so I wasnt too concerned.
My plans were changed when the station before where I planned to get off, everyone with mountain gear got off...so I followed.

Turns out these guys were serious mountaineers taking the longest most difficult route, I didnt know this at the time, and I am glad I followed them.
Its a bit of a hike to the start of the trail, with the streets lined with shops and carts selling more mountain climbing gear. Most of the climbers were sucking on gel packs like tour de france riders eat during the race.

The climb to the top took 2.5 hours, when I say top, I believe I climbed over 3 peaks to get to the main peak, had I have gone to the station I planned I would have gone straight to the top of the main peak, but then I would have missed all the rope lines and pulling myself up chains whilst carrying my drink bottle!

There is actually a cable car that gets very near the top with a proper walkway to it, so on the top there were a few USA soldiers in their 'going out' clothes, but other than that I didnt see another westerner.

Unlike the rest of my holiday, quite a few Koreans chatted to me in good English, most saying its surprising to see a westerner out on the trail, most just take the cable car and have an ice cream.

At the bottom there were lots of older people, still in lots of gear, but after a few hundred metres they were stopping for a rest and tea etc. So I was thinking how hard can this be.
Turns out they dont go past the first rocky area, theres trails around the bottom of the mountain they stick to.

I also saw signs warning about taking children up this route, and info on what gear to have, but I assumed that meant for winter, I still dont really know.

My fitness levels surprised me, I passed lots of people and never really felt the need to stop, I was mainly stopping to take photos.
The few tricky sections where you could easily plummet to your death required all my concentration, especially since I didnt want to lose my drink bottle.

The walk down the other side was far easier and shorter in comparison, being mostly steps and a few boardwalks with buddhist temples every now and then.

All up it took me right on 4 hours to go up, over 3 peaks, and down the other side. Once down, I had no idea how to get to the station, so that took another hour, I went completely the wrong way!

I dont seem overly exhausted now, I want to go again!

Because I took so many photos, I havent put them all here, if you want to see lots more - go here.

Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Gwanaksan - I took a photo of the map at the start of the trail in case I get lost, too bad its only in Korean.

I took a photo of the map at the start of the trail in case I get lost, too bad its only in Korean.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Gwanaksan - First sign of rocky outcrops.

First sign of rocky outcrops.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Gwanaksan - My only provisions, I felt left out of the fun by not having a backpack with a built in water bladder and hose system.

My only provisions, I felt left out of the fun by not having a backpack with a built in water bladder and hose system.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Gwanaksan - First summit, closest to Seoul, there are no guard rails anywhere, its a long way down off that rock. Getting to this part seemed to have no path at a

First summit, closest to Seoul, there are no guard rails anywhere, its a long way down off that rock. Getting to this part seemed to have no path at all, I just followed people.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Gwanaksan - Looking down in the other direction, you can see some people up a lower rocky outcrop.

Looking down in the other direction, you can see some people up a lower rocky outcrop.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Gwanaksan - Its me, crouching down, I didnt really want to set the camera timer and step backwards off the cliff like so many idiots have done.

Its me, crouching down, I didnt really want to set the camera timer and step backwards off the cliff like so many idiots have done.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Gwanaksan - I passed at least 5 such helipads.

I passed at least 5 such helipads.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Gwanaksan - Its me again, I made sure I wore my oldest clothes.

Its me again, I made sure I wore my oldest clothes.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Gwanaksan - There are quite a few of these foxholes left over from the Korean war.

There are quite a few of these foxholes left over from the Korean war.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Gwanaksan - Looking down a tricky part, at this stage I thought that might have been the hardest bit and was glad to have made it to the top.

Looking down a tricky part, at this stage I thought that might have been the hardest bit and was glad to have made it to the top.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Gwanaksan - On top of another summit, check out everyone else in their fancy gear.

On top of another summit, check out everyone else in their fancy gear.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Gwanaksan - Random photo of view.

Random photo of view.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Gwanaksan - Most of the way up a rope section, it was obviously hard to take photos whilst hanging off a rope.

Most of the way up a rope section, it was obviously hard to take photos whilst hanging off a rope.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Gwanaksan - Risking my life to take this photo.

Risking my life to take this photo.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Gwanaksan - Looking up another difficult section.

Looking up another difficult section.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Gwanaksan - The view back down, there were chains in some parts.

The view back down, there were chains in some parts.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Gwanaksan - View to the summit, still have to climb another cliff face.

View to the summit, still have to climb another cliff face.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Gwanaksan - On the summit, people drink a rice wine thing to celebrate. Or have some noodles, or a cup of silkworms....pass.

On the summit, people drink a rice wine thing to celebrate. Or have some noodles, or a cup of silkworms....pass.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Gwanaksan - From here you can see the radar station, the tv towers and the cable car station.

From here you can see the radar station, the tv towers and the cable car station.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Gwanaksan - Me at the summit, a Korean guy took the photo for me and since he YELLED smile, I tried really hard.

Me at the summit, a Korean guy took the photo for me and since he YELLED smile, I tried really hard.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Gwanaksan - Coming down the other side, heres one of the temples.

Coming down the other side, heres one of the temples.


Korea-Seoul-Hiking-Gwanaksan - Looking back up from the bottom of the other side...if that makes sense.  Like I said, theres a heap more photos <a href=https://www.r4d.org/photos/gw

Looking back up from the bottom of the other side...if that makes sense.

Like I said, theres a heap more photos here.


NewerPage 755 of 968OlderFull Trip Report