Monday, October 6, 2008

Rock Climbing

The wandering spirited foreigners.

Entrance to Ma-i-san
Random. From Friday night.

I could lie and say that this was the rock wall we climbed.

Not bad.

Climbers playing with fire

Temple, between huge rock walls. 


Ana 'rockin' it. 

Thats me about 1/2 way up.

How does this thing work?

Nick and Will the experts. 

So where I left off.

Friday night, departing with Dale and Christine, apparently we agreed to go rock climbing with them. Sure. Ok. 8Am Saturday morning. Wake up. Whaa-- What?! 

Well hell, were not staying in all day! Now or never. Here is where this debacle of travel begins. 

We met with Dale and Christine at the bus station at 8 15 Am. This is where we found out the our excursion was an overnighter. Surprise! Our destination was Ma-i-san. Maisan is a park situated around  two huge stone mountains that stick out like thumbs from green hills, dubbed "horse's ears."

There was much trouble and fuss getting there. Since there were no direct buses going to such a small town, we spent much of the day on the bus, traveling city to city, getting closer. 

On one bus we were talking to some Chzech  fellas. Christine and them mostly shared complaints about SK which annoyed me. The way I see it, if your here, make the best of it. But I guess its just our nature. 

So we finally made it to Ma-I-San at about 2 or 3 o'clock. We were supposed to meet a group of rock climbers all affiliated through this group called "Korea On the Rocks"  who Dale and Christine had climbed with  once earlier. 

There was some rock wall that we were to find. The directions we had were short text messages, so we wandered into the woods and spent about another 3 hours hiking the mountains looking and listening for them. We were all in funny spirits but enjoying ourselves. We felt somewhat doomed. No one was in charge. People started blaming eachother. I was okay with just walking around however. The park was nice. Finally Finally, after making our second loop we found the spot off the trail up a knee crunching hill to this rock wall with the motley bunch of rock climbers. Some Korean, some American, Australian, Korean-American, Englishman, you name it. They were really kind and all, but by the time we made it they were packing up, so we hung around and watched some of the last of the climbing and resolved that we'd get our chance the next morning. 

We had gone back and found our sleeping provisions which was a nice Minbok. (sleep on the floor in a room together. heated floors:))  Then went out to dinner with the whole bunch. About 20 in all. Everyone was really nice. There was a nice pork BBQ joint down the path at the entrance of the park. So we all ate and everyone talking to each other. There was the traditional korean booze, this yellow liquid stuff that had a funny taste, everyone gobbling it down in bowls. I can't  tell you how nice everyone was. Very welcoming. 

The climbers are breed of their own. I soon realized that I stepped in a different world. They have their own language. I think people expected me to be there right with them, passion wise about climbing, so I told them that we spontaneously came here this morning. They were very welcoming and encouraging.  The lingo is great. " Aww man, that crag is soo juggy. Pull any trick in the book on that conglomerate rock."  " Half way up I was pumping out." And it goes on and on like this. So I just nodded and ate the pork. 

After dinner the restaurant owner awarded our group with about 4 or 5 big jugs of that funny yellow liquor for spending so much money.  We then all headed to the top of the hill of a big bon-fire. That was nice. S'mores. Fire-side laughs. Drunk people. 

Being early-minded climbers however, things ended, and we were sleeping by 11 PM that night.

We woke up at about 6;30 AM. I went off into the park to take some sunrise pictures of the Temple. It was great, being at a timeless buddhist temple in the early morning. Completely alone. I wish I could have cultivated that peace a little better, but I was snapping away pictures. That sky was overcast so I didn't get that nice light.  People started showing up so I left and walked to the rock wall in the woods to find Ana , Christine, and our new friend Will. '

They had already set up rope up on the craggy wall and Will was descending down as I came up to greet them. Christine went up next. She is quite good. Her style was to get angry. Cussing and grunting her way up, as opposed to other climbers who say things like "beautiful ect ect." 

Rock climbing is extremely hard. There is the safety of the rope, but the lost nerve of failure. Your body is hugging this vertical rock wall, and all you have is your legs and fingertips to keep you on it. It's completely exhausting and requires strength in these tiny fine muscles in your fingers, hands, and forearms. You must keep your hips in, and rely on your legs mostly. 

First time up Ana had some trouble. The start is definitely the hardest. She got some ways up and eventually lost use of her hands and repelled down. 

Next I got up. Damn I thought, "this is hard!" I got up maybe about 10/15 feet and got stuck. My entire body was shaking and I had to lean back and hang there for a bit to re-gain my strength. About 2o or 30 feet up there was this ridge. I told myself "If I make it up there, I'll be happy, and that will be it." 

So I climbed, arms aching. My mind racing. When your up there, for me, its pure suffering. I'm tired, I'm hurt was all that was going through my mind. Where's the next grab? Where can I put my foot? ect. ect. Finally I made it to the first ridge, about 1/3 the way up. I was happy. 

With the rooting of the peoples below, now including Dale and this fella Nick, I figured I must keep going, and to my surprise the crag got easier the higher up. That was just the way it was in this spot. So I eventually got my way to the top where the last clip was. (about 100 feet). 

It was a great feeling. The view was awesome. Being lowered down I was somewhat surprised. "Good Job Squire!" said Will the Englishman. 

We remained there till about 1 PM. I tried another rope in perhaps a more difficult spot and only made it less than halfway. I was tired and stuck and already happy so I said enough.  We got down and journeyed the long terrible bus rides back. 

All in all , great experience. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Whoa - that must have been some experience! Glad to see the rope didn't snap!!!! Scary! I'm proud of you both for trying! Sounds like a real nice bunch of "rockers":) - MAW