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Ulsanbawi Nadeurigil 울산바위 나드리길 Submitted on May 18th, 2008 by jsp1001 Print
Type: Rock Climbs Province: Gangwon-Do City: Sokcho
Park: Seoraksan Park Rating: 5.4 - 5.7 Style: Traditional
Views: 9337 Photos: 2 Photo(s) - Add Photos Maps: 5 Image(s) - Add Images

The "easy route" on a beautiful castle in the sky called 울산바위 not far from the main entrance to 설악산. There are 23 pitches on the "hard route" (하나되는길), but this route walks around a lot of the harder ones so it is divided into "areas" rather than pitches. It normally requires an overnight bivy which is actually illegal (but see "Seoraksan Climbing Permits," in chat forum). The rock is sticky, but therefore, bloodthirsty as well. On trad routes like this, bolts are present but so seldom seen that you learn quickly to rely on cams, nuts, and slings instead.
A pitch by pitch description is available in Korean in the book 즐거운 암릉길 Ridge Climbing Guide, but it is a bit vague in many places (understandably, for such a long route), so I hope my notes below will be helpful.

From the Sokcho Express Bus Terminal, cross the street and take bus #7 or #7-1, which terminates at the park entrance. Pay your "Temple Tax" (search for this entry in the chat forum), and follow the signs for 울산바위 (forks to the right side). You'll pass a monastery and cross bridges into the woods. You'll come across two restaurant areas where 아줌마's entice you with gleaming smiles and make you promise to stop and eat there on the way back down. About 20 m. after passing the second such siren's nest, you'll come across a fork in the road--take the less-used right side.

The Approach: The side trail should take you to the beginning, a large cave on one end of ulsanbawi called 지옥문 "Hell's Gate" (!) in about 30 minutes, but we got lost, and stumbled on to what looked like Snow White's house. A female monk with a worried look on her face pointed us diagonally up the mountain, and after another 30 minutes of hard walking up the sandy side of the mountain, we finally arrived at said Gate. Gear up here and perhaps have a go at the bolted crack/face just to the left of the cave. If it's easy for you, perhaps you should take the hard route instead. After falling on my cams several times (and discovering that sticky rock=bloodthirsty rock), I confirmed our original choice of the "easy route."

1. Walk straight up into the cave and then walk/climb down on the other side. We didn't use a rope, but in hindsight, it would have been a good idea for the best climber to belay the others down and climb down last. Stop just above the part where it gets all rocky.

2. Now turn left and walk up along the side of the couloir. It's easier on the dirt trail than on the rocky area more to the right. You'll come to a large tunnel. To pass this tunnel, you can climb the chimney on the left, or crawl through the tunnel opening on right; we chose the latter, taking off our packs first.

3. After about 80 meters or so of scrambling up (stay towards the left side of the couloir), you will see, on the right of your path, a short half-chimney with a crack to the right of it. We missed this at first, and went all the way up to a large cave with an impossible overhanging ceiling, so had to come back down to search for this. If you look carefully, this half-chimney has a pinnacle at the top decorated with slings. Climb up this half-chimney and near the top, either tackle the overhanging bit, or climb through a tunnel to the right. Either way requires a couple of cams (I used #2 and #3 camalots) At the top, secure yourself on the pinnacle with slings.

4. You'll notice from here that the only way to go is to "jump" two boulders to the right (we used a rope) so that you get to the beginning of a short slabby section with a large horizontal log at the end of it. My mantra was "I hate slab . . . I hate slab" but I made it to the log alive. Keep going up, and you'll shortly reach a narrow saddle with relatively large trees, and huge rock faces to the right and left.

5. Follow the trail to the left going up, and after a little while you again have the option of a short and easy climb to the left (hard to protect) or go through the tunnel on the right. I chose the left, being tired of taking my pack on and off.

6. A bit more up, then down, and you'll come to a nice ledge with a view of the tourists staircase at 12 o'clock. Great, civilization, and we're still alive. Climb down, and at the next ledge, you'll see a rusty bolt backed up by many slings. Although you can downclimb most of the way, we chose to add our own backup to the bolt and rappel down. My 50m. rope reached all the way down to the bottom of the huge chockstone you can see down there. Starting the rappel is tricky, since its an overhang; keep the rope near the middle of the rock at the start, and to the right side at the second ledge, to avoid swinging (ask my bloody left hand how I know).

[we ended our trip here, prob. not even a quarter of the route; watch for future installments]

Soon, you're at the tourist staircase, where you can pack away your gear and follow the staircase and hiking trail down to the park entrance in about an hour.

Total time for us: (begin 9:00 park entrance, getting lost a lot, trying out an off-route climb, a long lunch break, back to park entrance around 8:30 pm) 12 hours.

Estimated total time in hindsight: 4-5 hours.

Safety Concerns
As mentioned, bolts can be there, or not. Lot's of falling rock, esp. in the couloir.

Gear to Bring
Bring all the cams you have. Even a nut set. Rappel rings would be nice if you could find them in Korea.

Additional Comments
Since we started at 10 am, there was no one else.

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