Roads on the island have been paves and approaches
to Mt. Halla are easy to track, thus making the ascent to the
summit and back a matter of one day.
The ascent to the summit of Mt. Halla (which is an accumulation
of great volcanic upheavals) begins with choosing either of
the 2 traversing paved highways running along either E or
W of the sweeping piedmont. There are 5 varied routes of 6-12km
toward the summit but the present writer would introduce the
mountain by following the shortest course (6.8km) on the SW
In 20 minutes by an automobile from Cheju City one can reach
Ipsung Pavilion ( a cottage inn, 1200m) at the entrance of
the main course. On the way up to the 550m levels, low trees
and meadowy grass cover the rocky terrain with mild undulations
sloping up to the central rise. This low part of the piedmont
has provided ranches for cattle and hunting grounds for the
upper updated these areas with new ranches of cattle, horse,
sheep, hogs and deer, together with well-cared-for hunting
fields and golf links.
Above this level are thick woods noted for their various characteristic
species of vegetation. Toward Sogwipo City on the S hem of
the island are tangerine and pineapple farms of subtropical
nature, but the piedmont has plants of the temperate zone,
while the upper slopes are rich with flora of the frigid zone.
There are more than 1700 species of plants on Cheju Island
comprising about 50% of all kinds discovered on the Korean
peninsula. More than 200 are indigenous species of Korea and
there are about 100 kinds found only on Cheju Island IUCN
has conducted several studies and scientists and scholars
all over the world are showing much interest in this island.
From Ipsung Pavilion after about 40 minutes of forests there
is a rocky belt where numberless columnar masses of lava in
changeful shapes more than 100m in size pose on a rocky surface.
Ancient poets called these rocks the 500 disciples of Buddha.
This rock pattern is witnessed only here and on the summit
alone. About 360 cones of parasitic volcanoes, large and small,
and many natural tunnels thereof are found scattered on the
whole island to modulate the rather monotonous repetition
of simple shoreline and skylines.
The crater on the summit is a surprise to the climbers' eyes
with its 1km circumference and 50-100m of depth. The legendary
Baeknokdam Lake lies quiet on the bottom. Not only the colorful
brocade mingling the red, white, black, brown hues of the
volcanic soil and rocks with the green, yellow and other tints
of high-altitude plants but also the grand panorama spreading
from the outer walls of the crater to the shorerims of the
entire island is an eternally unique and moving experience.
For mountaineering on rocks, ice and snows, Korean climbers
periodically try his summit as if on a pilgrimage.
can, with a combination of different approaches, be a small-scale
exploration with stages of sea voyage, forest venture and
weather seasoning plus hard alpinism.
The rocks and the rocky
surfaces of S and W rising to the summit are not long enough
to present difficulty, but the fragile volcanic rocks in an
inclement weather of strong winds, rains and snow can offer
challenging conditions to hard trainers.
For this reason,
more routes are expected to be discovered in future though
there are already several existing routes of Grade III to
V. When the mountain is covered by one of the thickest snows
in S Korea, 2 to 3m deep, the whole vast slopes are brilliant
with pure whiteness accentuated by tree-icicles.
Also, E and
N routes of 9-12km become superb ski runs over the greater
length of the courses. However, the stormy weather characteristic
of Cheju Island beats down for days in succession sometime
during winter and there have been occasional mountaineering
accidents of minor significance here