Go to contents

Mt. Halla Training Report

Posted February. 11, 2005 23:06,   


The training course is the toughest among Mt. Halla’s hiking courses: entrance to the Gwaneum Temple, Gurin Cave, Tamra Valley, the Gaemideung ridgeline, Yongjin-gak, and Janggumok (totaling 1,813 meters). On this day, when expedition members sleighed from Gwaneum Temple to Yongjin-gak where the shelter was located, more than two meters of snow had fallen near the summit due to a snowstorm.

The sledge is a necessity that can also be used as a boat when crossing the leads at the North Pole. Hikers passing by encouraged them with words like, “A ship is climbing the mountain.” The sledges pulled by Hong Sun-taek (39) and Oh Hee-jun (35), members who have had experience in South Pole and North Pole expeditions, smoothly slid through trails that are too narrow even for a single hiker.

The five expedition members were exhausted in their efforts to pull the sledge at the Gaemideung ridgeline between the steep cliffs. The cutting winds were paralyzing. “It’s only minus five degrees Celsius here. Are you going to be wimps at the North Pole, where it’s minus 40 degrees Celsius out there? This is nothing to the Ice Mountains up at the North Pole,” Captain Park barked persistently.

It was 9:30 p.m. when the members finally arrived at Yongjin-gak. 10 hours had passed since starting out at the entrance of the Gwaneum Temple at 11:30 a.m.

At dawn on February 6, the members set out to conquer the ice wall stretching forth for hundreds of meters to Janggumok. Janggumok is the only region of the Halla Mountain where avalanches occur. Numerous mountaineers have lost their lives at this region. After taking up the lead of the rest of the team members in climbing Janggumok, while wading through the waist-high snow, Captain Park immediately ordered the members to descend the mountain. The members would have to climb back up again in the afternoon. The members exchanged despairing looks.

In the afternoon, the expedition members dug a snow hole and built a bivouac after climbing the ice wall, all the while pulling their sledge. The snow hole is a temporary shelter from the wind made by digging a tunnel in the snow. The members busily perused their map with their head lanterns in the snow hole and checked up on their equipment.

“We’ll go for the challenge even if there’s only a one percent chance for success. In 2003, we went for the North Pole after a three-year preparatory phase, but failed to meet the challenge. We should be focusing more on our training sessions.”

The training sessions at the Halla Mountain continued until February 8. The expedition team will hold a launching ceremony on February 15 and leave for the North Pole on February 24. Should Captain Park reach the North Pole, he would be the world’s first mountaineer to achieve the “Mountain Grand Slam” (Himalayas 8000-meter trek, trekking the peaks of the seven continents, and reaching the earth’s three points). That day is near.

Chang Jeon jeon@donga.com