3 Difficult Mountains to Climb in Seoul
Many months ago, I wrote a blog about some of the smaller mountains around Seoul that one could easily hike. No matter how out of shape one may be, those three mountains are probably the easiest ones one can do not named Namsan (There are numerous busses that take visitors midway up the mountain and also there is an air gondola/lift that takes visitors up). If you are looking for a more adventurous climb, I would suggest these next three mountains. You should be somewhat more physically fit to climb these three. Some of these mountains are extremely high and require ropes and handrails. If you are afraid of heights, I suggest that you avoid the next three also. All three of theseg mountains can be completed within a day.
1) Gwanaksan – Gwanak is one of the tallest mountains in Southern Seoul. Standing at over 629 Meters tall (2064 ft.), this mountain allows hikers to see not only Seoul but also its suburbs (Gwacheon). This was the first mountain that I climbed when I lost my first 15 pounds living in Korea. It is a little difficult to get to because it is behind Seoul National University. When we went, the path was not marked well and luckily we were able to follow the ahjumma’s (older Korean ladies). I think because this was my first mountain I got to climb using ropes, this instantly became my favorite mountain in Seoul. Midway up climbing the paths, you will have to use ropes to climb up the rocky ledges. Also, to get to its highest point, you must use ropes to climb up and down. It was pretty fun and definitely worth the time it took to get up there. To get to the top of the mountain and then back down it took about a total of 3 hours. When you get up to the top of the mountain, make sure to visit Gwaneumsa Temple and Yeonjudae Hermitage. When visiting Yeonjudae Hermitage, it is located off the side of a cliff so be aware that you may hit vertigo. Luckily, when you hit this landmark, there is a stair path that basically leads you back to the base of the mountain.
2) Dobongsan – Located in Northern Seoul and part of Bukhansan National Park, this mammoth of a mountain stands 739.5 Meters tall (2426 ft.) When getting to Dobongsan Station, just follow the loads of Koreans who can take you to the base of the mountain. My favorite part of this mountain was the market that you must go through to reach the entrance. You can purchase water and Korean snacks (gimbap and ochingo) and then make the 3.5 hour trek. When trying to reach the peak of Dobongsan, you must go up the metal steps and then use a metal hand-rail to go up and down. You should definitely be in good shape to climb this mountain. At this time, I had lost a good amount of weight, but I was fearful that I may lose my grip on the handrail. Afterwards, when reaching the peak, there is a small spot up top that you can take pictures on. This area could only fit about only 10-15 people, so if you are claustrophobic, be plenty aware and take caution. I did feel fairly rushed when I was trying to take pictures because other people were waiting holding onto the handrail trying to make it to this part of the ledge.
3) Bukhansan – Located in the same national park of its name, this is a totally different entrance than that of Dobongsan. Bukhansan is in Northwest Seoul while Dobongsan is Northeast Seoul. Bukhansan is the tallest mountain in Seoul at 836.5 Meters (2745 ft.) This trek took us novice climbers about 4.5 hours to complete. Again, there are many people who love to climb this mountain on any given weekend, so just follow them to the main entrance. Instead of a market going into the entrance, there are legit hiking stores that sell gear in case you need it. There are numerous ropes, handrails, and metal steps that you must use to get to the top. At the top of the mountain, you can find the surrounding suburbs of Seoul. But the reward is not at the top, but on the way down. At the bottom you can find Guknyeong Grand Buddha with miniature golden Buddhas surrounding it. It is a great place for taking photographs.
Overall, climbing in Korea is one of the reasons why I will miss it here the most. This is the first time that I felt like I truly got in touch with nature. What other mountains do you enjoy climbing?
After working for five years in banking, Marc decided that it was time for a change before he got too old. He left the stress from his 9-5 job to do something new and different. After coming to Korea with a group of buddies, he landed in the Gangdong Branch in Eastern Seoul. When he's not teaching and doing head instructor duties, he is out about traveling Korea, looking for the new, old, and undiscovered places to visit.