Skiing in Gangwon-do


Being back in a cold winter climate has its plus points, one of them being the chance to try out skiing for the first time! We were booked in with the tour company ‘Enjoy Korea’ for a weekend on one of the best resorts in Korea called High 1, in Gangwon-do which is also the coldest region in Korea. (Didn’t quite expect it to be as cold as it was mind you!!!)

Up on the top of the mountain

Up on the top of the mountain

As we live on Geoje we had to get the bus to Busan on the Friday night which was not as easy as we had hoped thanks to every bus being sold out… however we managed to get there around midnight and book into a love motel for a 4 hour sleep before we had to leave again to meet the tour bus! The trip was only around $200 which included accommodation, transportation, 2 days ski passes as well as a night pass , ski equipment and clothing rental! Although because last years group lost their ski passes we were made to wear kids vests OVER all our clothes and ski gear which just about fit me but did not look so flattering on Andy!

Skiing

Skiing

The bus up to Gangwon-do was only 4.5 hours and we slept most of the way which was even better with a few stops along the way. On our first stop we actually got out to very very light snow fall and I turned round to see Andy trying to catch snow on his tongue and looking around like a kid who had never seen snow before. It is sometimes funny to sit back and watch people’s reaction who have never seen or not seen much of snow before. Looking around there were loads of people taking pictures of the snow, touching it and playing in it and all I kept thinking was…. you are going to be cold and have to sit on a bus with cold hands!!

Kitted up

Kitted up

Once at the resort we dumped our bags and changed into snow gear and went straight out! Although getting changed and figuring out how to put all the ski equipment on took us a good hour and a half!

As neither of us had skied before we decided to try a tiny slope first that Andy spotted off to the side, yes it was beginner but not quite learn to stop and start beginner! Amazingly I was a natural on the slopes and didn’t fall once on our first run which wound down the mountain for 2km keeping the lessons my boss taught me in my head ‘chips to go, pizza to stop’ (shape of your skis)… Andy on the other hand couldn’t stay up and then get up. If you have ever been skiing you will know how hard it is to get up once you have fallen over… near impossible! It took us an hour and a half to complete the first run and Andy was NOT in a good mood!

View from the top

View from the top

The expert course being fixed behind me

The expert course being fixed behind me

We stopped for a breather and some lunch before heading back up to try again. Andy soon got used to it and we managed to get faster and faster. It was on this run where I had my first fall and it was spectacular! The slopes are very busy with skiers and snowboarders and you have to be very cautious of people around you who might suddenly change direction. Just as I built up some speed I was completely taken out my a snowboarder who crashed into my side. I tumbled down the mountain  for a good 20 meters before finally rolling onto my side and stopping myself. It sounds sore and not much fun however I had so much padding on it was actually great fun!

We spent the whole day on the slopes before heading home to check into our condo which was a lovely big apartment with heated floors! We were staying with about 8 others and one of the boys had snapped his collar-bone after colliding with someone on the slopes and needed surgery… made me think I should perhaps be more careful on the slopes!!

Ski slopes early in the morning

Ski slopes early in the morning

After settling in we got back on our skis and decided to ski down the mountain to get some dinner which was cool to go skiing at night-time! They had huge lights highlighting the courses and there were half the number of people out! We then took the gondolas (which we had a 2 day pass for) up to the starting point and then the ski lift up to the intermediate course.

Night Skiing! Wow it was cold!

Night Skiing! Wow it was cold!

After spending the whole day on the slopes and getting the hang of it we felt we should be well equipped to try intermediate. WRONG! By the time we got to the top there was quite a bit of wind not to mention it being around -11 up the top. We also were soon to realize that there was a BIG difference between intermediate and beginner with the slope being super steep! Andy lasted 5 meters before he fell and I lasted about 20m only because I couldn’t stop and eventually had to just fall back to stop myself! Then came the hard part… trying to figure out how to stand up when it was so steep! Andy eventually walked down and I managed to go down sitting on one ski on my bum. After being extra steep to begin with it did get a bit easier and we were able to make our way down the rest of the slope all be it with some spectacular falls…. lesson learned don’t get too cocky!

There was a big party put on that night by the organizers however after paying money to come skiing we wanted to take advantage of it and stayed out until about 10pm staying in so we could get up and make the most of Sunday on the slopes. (We are total party animals these days…not!)

love park

love park

The next day we got up and changed and into our ski’s in record time and headed back down the mountain to have some breakfast. The views were incredible and there is something very satisfying about skiing down a mountain in the fresh air to go get some breakfast!! We spent the majority of the day on the slopes and even tried out some of the longer slopes before deciding on one last one before calling it quits. There was a beginner course running right from the top of the mountain that we had not tried and decided that this was the time to try. It was a 6km run and took ages for the gondola to reach the top of the mountain! The day could not have been more beautiful and the views were spectacular, overlooking a huge mountain range sprinkled with snow.

In true Korean fashion there were photo zones at the very top of the mountain with a love park where couples could get their photo taken (and which we obviously took advantage of!) It’s the one thing about Korea that you can’t fail to ignore is just how important ‘love’ is to Koreans. You can either roll your eyes at it or just have fun and embrace it like we do!

Up at the top

Up at the top

The course from the top was amazing, 6km of twists and turns and spectacular views. It was all over a bit too quickly!! The biggest problem we had was the cold, within 30 seconds of having a camera or phone out the battery would drain instantly due to the extreme cold so I didn’t get all the pictures I wanted. It has definitely been one of the most enjoyable trips we have been on and have booked into another one to celebrate Lunar New Year at the end of January and will maybe try snowboarding!

One thing is for sure, next time we won’t try a course that is above our skill level!

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4 thoughts on “Skiing in Gangwon-do

  1. Pingback: My Korean top 10 | Jennie McKie

  2. Pingback: Looking back on the year 2013 | Jennie McKie

  3. Looks like a great trip. Remember seeing a black run in Italy. We climbed up in the summer and needed to put hands on several times, it was so steep. When we were told that people would ski down it in winter we were flabbergasted……….!

    • Yeah the expert courses were still being topped up with snow but the hard courses looked almost vertical!!!!!!!!! Was a great trip… looking at getting another session in before we head home! 🙂 Xx

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