With the picturesque scenery of nature finely painted in the background, a hand reaches for the next crack on rock to rest upon. As the hand falls into the perfect crack, muscles of the body constrict and the body lunges further up. Until this person reaches the top, the process repeats.
Though foreign eyes see the country as an excelling technological ground, in true nature, Korea is a landmark covered with mountains and hills. With this natural asset, hiking and rock climbing are widely enjoyed by a wide range of people. However, for the foreign community, it is difficult to find a climbing route or even the basic lessons on how to climb.
As an answer to many questions of foreigners, Sanirang Alpine Networks was founded in 2009. It is a privately owned rock climbing business designed to provide convenience on climbing in Korea for foreign and Korean enthusiasts.
“I always wanted to organize a climbing school,” Peter Jensen-Choi, the founder of Sanirang, said. “Rock climbing is simply going up rock, protected or unprotected; but most importantly, learning the several skills needed to keep things safe and fun.”
Sanirang is open for anyone—from a novice to an experienced as it starts with the very basics. Everything from introducing gears and how to fit a helmet, harness, and trying in along basic climbing techniques and rope skills are taught. Once everything is set, the participants are ready to face the rock.
“When you see things and the instruction is presented in a simple and comprehensive way, you understand why things are or are not done a certain way,” Choi said. “We try to make it a positive experience and give everyone a full understanding. We make sure that all of our systems are closed and that it is safe.”
Rock Climbing School, the main focus of Sanirang, is a five-week program taking place at Bukhan Mountain. For the first four weeks, climbers are geared up in preparation of the final week’s “graduation” climb.
“We try to expose the climbers to the environment before the final climb,” Choi said. “The process works to make the team more efficient in getting to the top.”
The graduation climb to the top of Insu Peak is approximately five to eight pitches, lasting four to five hours at the fastest. Climbers say reaching the top and looking down on the scenery are gratifying.
“Blood, sweat, and tears—but I finally made it to the top of Insu Peak,” Michelle Wilkolaski, a former climber at Sanirang said.
Climbers who have been a part of the Climbing School are automatically added as alumni. They can benefit from this community for further climbing experience in Korea.
Members say that for those who like outdoor activities, wish to meet new people, and are looking for a real exercise, rock climbing may be the answer.
“There is a first for everything, and my experience with Sanirang’s beginner climbing school brought many,” M. Kellyn Gross, a former climber at Sanirang said. “My first whole-hearted attempt to confront a fear of heights; my first rock climb, multi-pitch or otherwise; and my first view of Seoul from Insu Peak.”
Interested climbers may visit the Sanirang homepage (http://sanirang.net/) for further information.