Saturday, October 19, 2013

Climbing adventures and stuff

So I thought I'd give a little recap of what's been going on in my free time since my work time is pretty much the same thing everyday (except last Thursday when a kid tracked dog poop into my classroom and stank the place up for two periods...).

There's been a lot of climbing going on as the weather has been really nice lately. About a week ago the international climbing competition came here to Mokpo along with a bunch of professionals from Korea, Japan, China, Spain, Czechoslovakia, Russia, and even India. It was a pretty cool showcase of some badass sport climbing on an insanely steep (60* overhang?) route. I was lucky enough to see the number one woman's division climber in the world (a korean) who destroyed the route with ease and even stopped near the top to wave for the crowd and got to see the number one man's division climber of Korea who also flew up the men's route without a hindrance.

Women's route left and Men's route right.

This lady from Japan was the first to make it through the first crux, but fell shortly after.

Another Japanese female who almost took the lead in the event with this attempt.

Two days after that I was back in the gym working on my own project again. A pretty fun 5.10(?) route up a slight overhang and past a little roof devoid of easy foot placements. I still haven't gotten it yet, but now it seems slightly more manageable.

Easily the sketchiest clip I've ever done. They extended the draw so it hangs about 3 feet behind you.

 Two big jugs side by side with decent foot holds to rest on.

All smearing on the push to the two crimpers and while clipping in.

A decent tow hook to use while bringing up your feet past the overhang.

With both feet up you can squat on the jugs and rest before the final 15' of crimpers.

After working on that project a couple times I decided to take a break to explore outside endeavors. I hit up a website called and looked up some local routes here in Mokpo. Turns out that there are some pretty amazing crags on our local mountain: Yudalsan. We started out on Kokkiri Bawi which was a nice face climbing area behind some local farms that overlook the endless islands and ocean that surrounds Mokpo. I went up a pretty cool 5.9 called "With Sunrise" which consisted of sparse 1-2 finger pockets and shallow bowl smears. It was like sticking my fingers inside holes made out of razors. 

Stacked rock piles in front of the crag.

Gratuitous shot of the sunset sky over the farms and bay.

Just yesterday Chris and I went out to a new crag called "Iron Palms." It was also on Yudalsan, but we had to go through spider infested jungle (seriously) to get to the crag. It looked like it hadn't been used in years, but the hardware was in good shape and the climbs looked good. I went up some unnamed 5.9 route, but got stopped just short of the top anchor due to what I assume was a broken off hold. There was a big scar right next to a bolt and the rock was polished all around, there was no way up the last 10 feet unless you jumped the entire way. Instead I traversed a little to the left and set up an anchor and toprope on an unnamed 5.8 route and came down. Chris tried it but was too short for the crux. I went up after him and was able to pull it off (while almost getting myself stuck in a strange rockfall chute that I arm-barred inside). 

Right after this spot, the trail disappeared and we were in waist high brush and vines.

Got quite lost at one point, but found some offering caves for local shamanic religions. Some still had ashes in them from the last offering.

Chris stuck on the crux of the 5.8. The little pockets along the top of the bowl is where you had to climb while stemming the walls of the bowl until you got high enough to go through that tiny chute. The bowl he's in was about 4' deep 5' wide and 10' tall. You also can't tell from the picture that the tiny chute is actually back from the wall quite a bit, so it is an overhanging crux move.

Well that's it for now, I'll see you again after my next adventure!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Know your walk-off

Today I completed my first Korean rock climb, and it was quite different from back home. It was a decent length slab of spiky, grainy granite rock that had many small washout pockets and a couple great hand/finger cracks going up the side. It wasn't too difficult either (5.9?) but it had a killer start and some long runouts in between bolts. I started up it a bit shaky, if I fell the rock was low-angled and looked like it was shaped by a cheese-grater, so nerves were high. Also added to this was the fact that the climb was 3 feet off a main hiking path in downtown Mokpo (Yudalsan), so spectators were abundant. After what I later found to be 20 minutes, I was at the top bolt and could see the top of the slab where the route ended. To my shock and awe, on this sport route there were no rap rings, cold shuts, twin bolts, or a clear walk-off on top of the slab to get down. I was stunned. Mainly because people had told us that this route was used to train people outdoors and that the top of this route was the top of two other routes as well. After holding a tiny toe pocket and finger jam for what felt like an eternity of searching for an answer, I began the sketchy practice of down-climbing to my last bolt. Once there I went static, off belay, and set a rappel off of a locking carabiner in a solid bolt. Safely at the bottom, I remarked to Chris that there was no way for him to climb today because there was no way for me to make an anchor for us to use. Saddened by the loss of climbing and my locking carabiner, we headed back down the town. Once in town I headed to the alpine store to replace the carabiner I had lost and to pick the mind of the shop owner. He sadly informed us that the routes were supposed to be walked off of and that there was no way around this without buying tons of cams and build an anchor near the top in the crack. I don't have the $300 to buy cams, so that's kind of out of the question...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Skating in Mokpo

So I finally got my skateboards here (Thanks mom!!) and I've noticed some new things and I thought I'd share them with you.

1. Korean drivers don't stop for you and they don't follow the speed limit...ever. They will blow through crosswalks without a thought for you. They will even run red lights if they think they can make it through the intersection without getting hit by another car. Oh, and on mountain roads that are beautiful to skate on, they'll pass speed limit signs with 30 KPH on them doing probably 100 KPH and will cut lanes on blind turns, so being in the opposite lane does not guarantee your safety. So on windy roads you have to skate at night so you can see their headlights.

2. Koreans will get stoked and curious if you ollie up a curb, and they will go absolutely apes**t if you throw a kickflip off a curb or a boneless off a bench. They will treat you like a street performer and will sit and watch you do what you do. ESPECIALLY if you're skating downhill fast.

3. Korean cities (especially Mokpo) are very well adapted to skateboarding. Especially bridge underpasses are really steeply banked with great transitions. You can skate everything, but if you mess up and your board hits anything people will be pissed at you.

4. Korean skate parks suck horribly. They consist of 2' tall miniramps placed in bizarre ways that don't connect lines at all...

So yeah, that's what skateboarding is like: really exciting, dangerous, and limited to what you make of it.