Outdoor Climbing Classes in Korea: It’s a good thing.
In keeping with the wild mood swings you’ve come to expect here at Abrupt Departure, I’m having a phenomenal day. No, I haven’t finally gone crazy, and this isn’t a manic episode. I went climbing yesterday and it was, to date, hands down, the best day I’ve had in Seoul.
Two nights ago, in fact the very night I was composing my last post, HCB received an email from one of his colleagues that suggested I might enjoy going to a local climbing school, called Sanirang Alpine Networks. I was focused on other things (moping), but I managed to tear myself away from my important duties (checking Facebook) long enough to take a look at the courses being offered. Having never done a multi-pitch outdoor sport climb (Mom, don’t worry. I’ll be doing REALLY easy stuff), my interest was piqued. Over the course of five weeks, the class goes over all the technical intricacies of safe outdoor belay climbing, but the payoff, the big, juicy, Oh-my-God-I’m-so-excited payoff, is an overnight climbing trip to Mt. Bukhansan. My climbing partner back in the States has been absolutely HOUNDING me (Hi, Miguel!) to go climbing in Yosemite, but until getting shipwrecked in Korea, procrastination and a vague discomfort with outdoor climbing had caused me to defer, over and over. Hence, the hounding. Well, no more deferment. After all, I’ve loved gym climbing, but a scenic vista overlooking treadmills and stationary bikes is less motivating than this will be:
If I’m being totally honest, I have to admit that for as exciting as this proposition seemed, I left our apartment yesterday morning with more than a little trepidation. Not over the climb, but over the class itself. A couple weeks ago, I went to a Korean cooking class and it didn’t really do what I needed it to do: I was the only student and the class’s curriculum covered not much beyond the mixing of marinades. Also, SUPER EXPENSIVE for only a couple hours. With that experience so fresh in mind, I began my hour-long commute with a “Here goes” attitude. OMG. I am so glad that HCB, in his infinite and loving wisdom, sighed me up for the class and would hear no “But. BUT…”s on the subject. It was awesome. The climbing didn’t change my life or anything—it was a single wall outside in a park—but the people, oh the people! It was fantastic. God knows how they felt about me, but I dug pretty much everyone. It may have been the endorphins I’ve been missing these past four weeks, but I couldn’t get enough of this group.
As for the class itself, it’s clear that the owner and head instructor, Peter, is the governing force behind the whole scene. You can just tell that he’s a really solid guy who is deeply, deeply stoked to be doing what he’s doing. I mean, even though I am irresistibly charming, I can’t imagine that he LOVES dealing with a bunch of idiot newbies all day long, but he’s passionate about the climbing and he shares that with the students. He seems, from what limited exposure I’ve had, to be the kind of person you’d want to get to know. An elder statesman of climbing.
To what he’s bringing, add a team of—again—totally skilled and charming assistant instructors, and you’ve got a good day on your hands, ladies and gentlemen. And, did I just slink back home after the class was over? Nope. We all went out for beer and fried chicken, which was as amazing as you would imagine.
The next class is this Sunday, and the anticipation is both fortifying and consuming, especially since we’ll be working on real rock this time. I’m so excited, I can barely handle it. In fact, the residual high from yesterday was so strong that I woke up today and lifted weights (I don’t lift weights), ran on the treadmill (I don’t run) and swam a few laps (I NEVER swim). God, who knows what I’ll be capable of after another couple classes? I might even feel like a normal person in Korea!
P.S. I am the WORST photo blogger ever. I brought my wide-angle lens by accident. Blog fail. Next time…