August 13, 2012

Kayaking and Beaching

For summer break, I went on a lot of adventures, such as vertical caving, rock climbing, kayaking, and sailing. It was a great end to my time in Korea. 

This is Namhae, which I have always loved, you can see it in the spring here. Mike, Eoin, and I went back there to go kayaking in the ocean. The area is around these smaller islands, and you can watch the waves crash into their rocky shores... it was really beautiful, especially for someone like me, who love rocks. I didn't bring my camera into the boat, though so these are all taken from shore.

For more info, check out their super helpful site! or call 010-8500-5863

We went to Busan's Gwangalli beach, which was unsurprisingly crowded. Korean beaches in August are really packed, but it was nice to lay out (under an umbrella, per Korean culture). 

The last day of break we went sailing with Pat. I wish I had taken some pictures of that adventure, but let me just say it is awesome. If you want to rent a dinghy to sail (one or two people boats), go to Dadaepo beach and walk over to the very far left. It cost us 20,000 for three hours, including life vests and wet suits. They did not offer to help set it up at all, though, so make sure you know what you're doing!

August 12, 2012

Vertical Caving in Danyang!

You may remember a post about Danyang, a city farther north known for its numerous caves and beautiful national park, Sobaeksan. I went to Gosu dong-gul and got some beautiful pictures in a show cave - one open to the public with nice walkways and railings. I loved it. BUT, it wasn't a challenge. My friends Pat and Michael invited me to do some hardcore vertical caving and I had to accept. It was an adventure!

Michael standing over the opening to the cave, about to go down and set the rope. He is wearing a harness with the rope secured though a device that allows him to rappel down at his own speed. As he goes down, he needs to pay attention to the rocks. The cave entrance twists and turns, and at certain points the rope will rub against sharp rocks - a safety hazard. Michael will attach rope guards, or fabric to protect the rope, at those points. 

At the top of the cave, Pat makes sure everything is going well. From the entrance to the starting cavern, it is about 10 stories underground, so there is a lot of yelling and listening carefully to make sure Michael doesn't run into any problems or need any additional gear. 

A couple of hours later, we are all in the cave! Initially I didn't realize how blurry the pictures were, but once we did, we started using all of our head lamps to focus light for the pictures. They will be more crisp in some instances because of that. Bear in mind that this is not a lit cave, the only source of light at all is on our helmets. 

Michael led the way, I stayed safe in the middle, and Pat followed in the rear. This kept me safe from potential serial killers or falling down a hole into a cavern. It is a bit freaky thinking about how far underground we were and how badly things could go. 

Pat is crawling on his arms here, but a few moments ago he was on his stomach-  see the stalactites? We had to be extra careful to protect the integrity of the cave, since its features were in pristine condition. This meant crawling, face in the sticky clay in the smallest parts of the cave. Gross, but all worth it to allow the next caver the chance to see such an amazing sight. 

A special thanks to Pat, who provided all of the gear, from the helmets and harnesses to the jackets and over-sized jeans. Not only did it make the trip possible, it also saved me hours of cleaning. He's a good friend.

Some rooms were really tall or big, others were tiny. 

As the quality of the pictures improves, I made the images larger. If you want to see beautiful, pristine images of a cave nearby, please look at my post with pictures from the show cave, here. They have lights installed and they turned out more true to color and clear. Of course it is in less pristine condition and less awesome.

Would you want to crawl through this tiny, dark opening? Its a bit intimidating! 

To get out of the cave, we had to use two ascenders attached to the rope. This is basically a handle that the rope goes through, then one is hooked up to the harness, while the other is hooked up to a foot loop. You put your weight into your harness and slide the ascender hooked to your foot loop up, then stand and put your weight in your feet. Next, slide the ascender hooked to your harness up. This process repeats over and over. I counted the first two hundred moves, but wasn't even out of the main cavern. Needless to say, its a workout! 

Vertical caving is easily in my top ten experiences in Korea. I couldn't recommend it enough if you have the proper equipment and an experienced guide to help you safely explore a cave. 

Rock Climbing in Korea

Since I last posted about climbing, I have done quite a bit of it. Don't get me wrong, I still don't know what I am doing. I scamper up the rock, and hope I don't bust my knees or face up too badly. I often make it to the top, albeit after falling once or twice. I've tried climbing in a gym, which is all of the struggles of climbing without the freedom to pick your own holds or the beautiful scenery to make it worth it. Not my thing. But, outdoor climbing is enjoyable. I think I've gotten a little better, though I really should consider things like technique and building muscles to improve. Maybe I will take a class on it at some point, but for the moment I am enjoying meandering around on some rocks. 

We took Mara out for her first climbing experience at An Nam in Busan. She did really well!

I've also learned out to belay, which is vital. 

This is in Yeoung Yeoung on Palgong Mountain in Daegu. It is set up with lights so you can climb at night. 

Back at An Nam!

It is really getting too hot to climb now, but I hope to go at least once more before heading out of Korea!