Mountaineers come to be fascinated by the striking sight of
the perpendicular falls stretching 400m near Towang Fortress
approached after about an hour of climbing bypassing Biryong
Falls. The falls, dashing in a white vertical pillar of spraying
downpour, start over a cliff underneath remote Chilsong Peak
(1077m) to form the upper falls of 150m, which are again transformed
into the middle cascades of more than 100m in length.
lower falls then precipitate over another 100m. The whole
series of these waterfalls is simply overwhelming and captivating.
A team of young climbers from Seoul succeeded in ascending
the 400m of the rock surface on the right side of this Towang
Fortress Falls in 1974 and the same year also saw the first
ascent of the left side surface by some local climbers.
In January every year these falls freeze to become vertical
pillars of ice challenging all Korean alpinists as a sort
of training course for climbing of genuine ice-walls in foreign
mountains. After the failure by the first group of challengers
in January of 1968, many a team from various alpinist clubs
and universities tried in vain.
There have been a number of
slips, including an accident in 1973 in when resulted in the
death of a very capable alpinist. Moreover, some foreign alpinists
still active in the Alps or the Himalaya also tried but only
This huge series of ice pillars had attracted quite
a good number of mountaineers from inside and outside Korea
until in January of 1976 the Dongkuk University team completed
the first ascent of the lower falls by direct climbing after
12 days of patient efforts.
In January 1977 the young members of Crony Alpine Club succeeded
in subjugating the upper and the lower falls together 10 years
after the first challenge. The lower falls needed 3 days with
18 pitons while the upper ones required 8 days with 32 pitons,
the last day demanding 18 hours of unrelenting work. It was
a special case of a climbing feat unanimously agreed to be
on the level of a Grade VI ascent.
This sort of ice-wall climbing
began here when the present writer and his party ascended
for the first time in Januaary 1939 the 3-level frozen surfaces
of Ssangyong Falls (Grade III+) in the Inner Sorak. Notable
events of similar nature, to name a few, were the ascent of
the frozen gorge (Grade IV) in Cheongbuldong area in 1959,
the ascent of 100m frozen falls in Sorak Gorge (Grade V) in
1969 and also the ascent by the Corean Alpine Club of frozen
cascades for over 1200m (giving 700m of climbing) to reach
Daecong Peak (1708m).
The beauty of peaks and rapids are concomitant with ubiquitous
falls and cascades dotting the whole mountain. The art of
the Creator has the upper and the lower falls together 10
years ways to hold crystalline dark-blue or emerald water
under waterfalls and upon gorge beds.
One typical series of
such is the 12km of a major mountaineering route around Chonbuldong,
leading from Bisondae Heights to the summit of Daechong Peak,
which has a total of 16 sets of rocky waterfalls, waterfall
basins and stream troughs. One becomes quite busy appreciating
all the scenes.
Rock-climbing on the clusters of ridges in Mt. Sorak started
with the first ascent of Ulsan Rock by the members of Backryong
Club in the 1940s and there are now 13 routes on mountain
ridges rating as high as Grade V.-Al.
Then they also tried
to scale up the mountain on skis. Popularity increased in
the 1960s. At present the area is a grand hall of massive
rocks embracing Kwonkum Castle Range to which a cable-car
service has been constructed, the ridge connecting Madung
Ridge (1327m) with the main Daechong Peak, the range around
Gongyong Ridge, the 7 clustered ranges near Noin Peak (1180m),
all of which are in the Outer Sorak.
There are Bongjong Range
(with 11 ridges and 10 rock-peaks) and 6 other groups of ridges
for various climbing routes or ridge tracking in the Inner
Because of the adequate facilities on Daechong Peak, the 14km
of the shortest course between Sorak-dong and the Peak can
be tracked in 7 hours. However, rock-climbing in the form
of ridge tracking provides an opportunity for big-scale ascents
of 2 to 5 days with bivouacs on the way.
The summit is a crest
with 3 pyramidal tops. Two kilometers down on the way is Bongjong-am
Shrine (1350m), which is reputed to be the highest Buddhist
retreat in Korea. It has a dainty, weathered 5-story stone
pagoda 1300 years old. Nearby is a newly built cottage inn.
In the mountains around are 10 Buddhist temples and shrines
besides 7 chalets and inns of restful atmosphere.