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myfooteprints adventures on the road


SOUTH KOREA | Thursday, 22 October 2009 | Views [522]

it's been almost a month since i returned from my two month vacation in europe.  i've been kept busy with moving into a new apartment and with missions into the mountains for climbing with friends.  i can't really fall back on that as an excuse for letting my blog go silent.  nor even the fact that i haven't had an internet connection for most of the past three weeks.  there seem to be phases when my desire to write, or to be creative in any number of capacities, sink into a lull and gather dust until i force myself to brush off the cobwebs and work on them.  it seems my creative energies are not easily spread. and something i hadn't really considered before is how much energy i put into climbing.  when i am climbing a lot, and am really stoked (read: passionate) i don't tend to have a lot of juice left for writing, photography or songwriting.  i suppose there's no reason why that shouldn't be the case.  climbing certainly does take a lot of energy.  and when i'm climbing new stone, it certainly is a creative endeavour involving a lot of problem solving.  that has been one of the most appealing facets of the sport for me.  so the fact that i let my blog go silent should be a sign that i'm doing something else that i love, not that i have nothing to say.

and right now, i am loving what i do.

upon returning to sokcho, i was immediately thrown back into the world of bouldering.  a world that had really inspired me in my early years of climbing back in newfoundland.  i recall shane dooley and i going out on winter drives to search for boulders that we could climb in the spring.  it wouldn't takle much to get us excited.  a decent sized stone perched atop a hill on the expansive avalon barrens would have us wide eyed and smiling.  we saw value in finding new problems to establish.  we were the only climbers at that time who were consistently pursuing this bastard child of climbing.  being unroped and exerting ourselves as hard as we possibly could held great appeal.  the sessions of throwing ourselves at a problem until we could figure out a sequence could go on for hours.  days.  weeks.  and the reward of finally finishing a problem became proportional to how much time it took to send it.

now, here in korea, some friends from seoul have opened my eyes to what's been sitting in my backyard for all these years.  unio, aka the african, uncovered a gold mine of granite boulders in an area a mere 45 minute drive away.  after gathering our crew of boulderers and making a few trips to this place, we all felt the magic of its potential.

climbers are an interesting breed.  they will travel halfway around the world in search of stone if they know it's good.  and what we've found is good.  really good.  korea has never been a destination for climbing, so the prospect of opening a new area for climbers the world over to enjoy holds great appeal.  being 'the first' in climbing holds a lot of honour.  being the first to climb a route or problem attaches your name to it for as long as it's there to be climbed.  finding a whole area of unclimbed stone is then, a climber's dream come true.  with climbers in korea, most of the koreans who pursue the sport stick to sport, trad or alpine, all involving ropes and bags of gear.  the idea of throwing themselves on giant pebbles with mattresses is lost on them.

so we gladly pick up the slack and are busy developing this new area.  and it's not only the stone that is quality.  the setting is one of the most beautiful i've ever had the opportunity to climb in.  and being one of those interesting climbers, i've done a lot of travelling myself in search of stone.

so we find ourselves in a unique position.  developing a world class bouldering area that we both want to keep secret and share with the world.  our plan is to develop it and document it until we've done what we can in the area and then spread the word once we feel it's ready for the climbing public.  this will entail a published article in a major climbing magazine and potentially a video to distribute.

even after climbing in some of the most popular climbing areas in the world in europe, i find myself to be so excited to be back in korea that it makes me giddy.  the prospect of staying in this quaint little mountain/beach town for another year or two seems not only possible, but desirable.

as i've said before:  the life, she is not so shit.

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