|Towangpok Climbing(Winter thrill in korea)
By Cho sung dae
|While in orther seasons they pursue rock climbing,
in winter Korean climbers take to scaling the walls of ice created
when the cold winds freeze the mountain waterfalls. For climbers
in the Seoul area, the usual place to practice rock-climbing
is Insu peak on Mt.Pukhan.
When the temperature drops to a level
at which the fingers are too numb for ordinary rock-climbing,
the climbers pull their ice-climbing gear out of the closets
and loft it`s been stored in all year and give it a through
They remove and rust that may have formed, apply
oil, and ready their double-insulated plastic boots and ice
They monitor the daily weather forecasts, waiting for the falls
Each region has its own favorite falls. The one most frequented
by climbers from Seoul is Kugok falls on Mt.Ponghwa located
in Kangch`on, Nam-myon, Chunsong-gun, Kangwon Province. Kukog
falls is on the shady side of the mountain, so it freeze faster
than any of the falls in the seoul vicinity.
This falls is 70 meters high and has an incline of 60 to 70
degrees, making it an excellent place to practice in preparation
for scaling Korea`s biggest waterfall, Towangsong Falls.
The waterfalls nearest to Seoul include Kuch`onun Falls on Mt.Pukhan, Hoeryonggkol Fall on Mt Tobong, chunghong Falls
on Mt. Sap`ae, and Ullyu falls on Mt. Surak.
don`t care so much about how near or far falls is;they are
much more interested in how soildly the falls are frozen and
how challenging a climb they present. That`s why they head
for the more distant
and difficult Kugok Falls mentioned above or for the various
falls on Mt. Worak in the national park in south Ch`ungch`on
Province and those on Mt. Sorak.
The ice-climbing doesn`t get into full swing until the last part
of December and lasts into the following february. Kugok falls and
T`owangsong Falls never disppoint climber s, for they always have
abundant water, and therefore abundant ice, even in years of drought.
No one is sure exactly when the sport of ice-climbing was introduced
to Korea, but certain mainstay members of the Corean Alpine Club,
which has lead the mountain-climbing movement here since its beginnings,
probably did some ice-climbing in the Chunlbul-dong Valley of Mt.Sorak
when they visited there in winter. In view of the fact that the
first pickels(ice axes)were manufactured
in korea in the early 1960`s, it`s would seem that by that time
had already become a common pursuit.
In the early 1970s the Corean Alpine Club sent some its young members
to study at the Ecole Nationale de Ski et d`Alpinisme in Chamonix,
home of alpinism. There they learned advanced climbing techiniques
and helped Korean climbing get on the right track when they returned
to their homeland. It is doubtless through their influence that
French climbing terminology, such as piolet(ice axes), spread among
After the introduction of French ice-climbing
technique, Korean climbing technique and equipment continued to develop and progress
a local climbers passed on front-pointing techniques learned on the hard "blue"ice
of the climates of Eastern Europe and Canada.
Until the 1970s Towangsong Falls was the focus of interest
among Korean climbers.
This falls, which is located in Sorak-dong
at the enterance to the
mt.sorak area, looks like a column of water connecting heaven
to earth. it seemed to dare climbers with its formidable height.
It was first climbed successfully in 1977 by Song Pyong-Min
and Pak Young-Bae of the Crony Alpine Club.
It took them no
less than tree days two nights to make all the way from the
bottom to the top.
To scale Towangsong Falls is the dream of virtually every
Korean Climber. It is the longest ice-climbing course on a single waterfall in
the Orient. Before
it was conquered many a climber lost his life there, but today
with the progress we`ve made in equipment and technique, the
climb, which originally took three days, has been made in
as little as an hour by some climbers. Since1990 the record
for the shortest time has been broken year after year.
The basic eqipment needed for ice-climbing includes specially
designed boots, a safety helmet, crampons, a pickel, and ice screws. Today
double-walled plastic boots are favored over the traditional
leather, but whether the climber wear plastic or leather,
if he wants to use the front pointing technique the
boots must have two to four points in the toe and must have
rigidly inflexible soles.
The crampons used on climbing boots generally have
twelve to fourteen points. Rope is the climber`s lifeline,
and for the ice-climber it must be rope that will not freeze.
There was time when the same sort of nylon rope used for
rock-climbing was also employed in ice-climbing, but today`s
climbing, but today`s climbers use a special dry type that
does not absorb moisture.
Of course, it`s important to have a compleate set of excellent
equipment, but most important of all in ice-climbers is the
climber`s ability and a mind that dose panic. additionally,
the climber needs the will to climb and climb. Without that
will, a frozen waterfall looks like nothing more than a lovely winter scene, but with it, it presents a thrilling opportunity
that cannot be passed up