On the Rocks with SAN

Sanirang Alpine Networks was written up and posted on www.korea4expats.com. The article was written up by SAN Alum Tom Hopkins and gives the first write up on SAN’s rock climbing school. It is a detailed description of his experience through his five weeks learning how the basics to rock climbing and all of the other fantastic things about the rock climbing school program.



Have you ever been out hiking and seen a group of Koreans scaling a vertical wall and said to yourself, “That looks awesome. I want to do that”? Well, now I can!…And so could you!

I am a recent graduate of SAN’s climbing school, and I really can’t say enough about it. Week one was a crash course in equipment and safety. We met at an artificial climbing wall in Suyu. Here, we were instructed on how to properly put on and secure a climbing harness, how to thread, tie and secure a figure eight knot into our harness, learned lower and raise belay techniques, some basic climbing techniques. Once the safety instruction was finished, it was time to hit the wall. We had four routes of varying difficulty set up so we were able to test our climbing limits. On day one, we also learned how to abseil, or rappel. Though I had climbed many times before, this was a new experience for me, and I’ll admit, I was quite nervous. After some reassurance I was zipping down the rope with ease.

During the following weeks, the class moved up to the magnificent Bukhansan National Park. It was here we honed our skills for our big graduation climb of Insu peak! We learned how to climb slab, how to jam your way up a crack, and how to lay back a flake! We also got to practice our abseils on a fifteen meter overhanging cliff! It was short, but what a rush. The first few weeks at Bukhansan are a great time to get to know your fellow climbers as you usually have a long hike into the crag. There are also some pretty spectacular views of Seoul!

By the final week arrived I could hardly contain my excitement. The Saturday night before the climb, a group of us went camping at the nearby Insu Campground. We laughed, told stories, cooked Samgyeopsal, and drank Makeolli in celebration of our impending climb. Sunday morning was an early wake up call as we geared up and set off the base of Insubong. Insubong is a massive granite dome in the middle of Bukhansan National Park. It is arguably one of the most popular climbing destinations in Seoul.

The group was broken into four teams, and we were off! The climb was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. At times, it was easy and I was cruising along, and at other points, I wanted to just give up. If climbing has taught me one thing, it’s that if you stay focused and push the negative thoughts out of your mind, you can make it. So I persevered! As I was climbing, I was in awe of my team leader, a member of the CAC, who is an expert climber. While we were all in special rock climbing shoes, he made the entire climb in sandals. He was truly inspiring to watch. After nearly four straight hours of climbing, I made the summit! The group summited in record time, Peter told us he had never had a group so large (18 people) summit so quickly!

After a brief celebration and posing for group photos, it was time to go back down to the base. The only way down from Insubong is by rappel, a 60 meter rappel! As I backed my way down to the edge, I was nervous, but relaxed, and within seconds I was dangling from a rope 60 meters above the ground! What a feeling! The rappel went smoothly and in under a minute I found myself safely on solid ground. The day concluded down in Uidong where we had a graduation ceremony. We were all given a diploma and a SAN t-shirt. We then proceeded to eat, drink, and be merry! Sharing stories of the day’s conquests and honoring our Korean climbing leaders with shots of soju.

The SAN climbing school is a great way to meet new people, have fun, and also learn how to push your mental and physical limits. SAN provides instructional climbing courses that cater specifically to foreigners who are looking to get into the activity. Whether you are an absolute beginner, or you have some experience and you are looking to master your skills, SAN’s courses are for you! All of the courses are taught in English by Peter Jensen-Choi. Jensen-Choi has over 15 years of climbing experience in Korea, is a technical committee member of the Corean Alpine Club, helps with the Korean Alpine Federation bi-annual newsletter, corresponds with the American Alpine Journal, and holds basic certifications with the AMGA and KAF. He has been on several expeditions including trips to China and Nepal.

To read this via original published source, click here: http://www.korea4expats.com/news-rock-climbing-school-experience-korea.html