Hike Camp and Travel
Mt. Samseongsan - 481m/1578'

How To Get There: From Gwanak Station, I walked straight out and turned right on a major road shortly after. I noticed a bunch of hikers on this road (they're kinda easy to spot with all their full gear) and just decided to follow them to the trailhead.

Korean men enjoying a drink at Mt. Samseongsan
This mountain is huge and I definitely recommend the ridge hike to intermediate hikers. I consider this my first scrambling experience in Korea. This mountain has granite ridges and for some part, you would question "how did those old Korean men and women got through this crux".

I was also first introduced here to a "drinking club with climbing problem". I met a 60yr old Korean man named Chong(?). He only spoke a little english but somehow we understood each other. He invited me to sit with him and fed me some very tasty plums. He asked me if I like hiking, I said yes. He asked me if I drink Makeli, I said I drink Soju, this was the only Korean alcohol I know. We hiked towards a bunch of old folks sitting around a portable table with some finger food on it. Beside the table were 2 big plastic buckets which apparently had Makeli. How they got these buckets up this mountain is beyond me. Makeli is an alcoholic beverage. It looked like coffee with some bits of hell knows what. Mr. Chong bought some and he split it in two for me to try. It wasn't as strong as soju but it was still alcohol... on the ridge of a mountain.
The next question Mr. Chong asked me was if I like climbing (gesturing rock climbing), I said yes I ju... I mean I do. We left the drinking club and he showed me a different way of tackling the ridge. This alternate route involved some free climbing. It wasn't a high wall - but with alcohol - you could very much fall.

I was taking some pictures on the summit when I realized I lost Mr. Chong. He probably thought I was following him when he left. I tried to keep up to where he might've gone but I never saw him again.
Mt. Samseongsan Trailhead Beginning of the hike First high point visible from the ridge
(1) Trailhead.
(2) Here's a sample of the trail from the beginning of the hike.
(3) This is the first high point visible from the ridge. I first thought it was the summit already but I was surprised to see a farther higher summit.
First high point My climbing buddy Koreans do hike with umbrellas
(1) It took me 1hr to get to this first high point from the trailhead.
(2) I met Mr. Chong at the second high point, where he invited me for some snack. He's 60 and a man of steel.
(3) As soon as we left the second high point, it started drizzling. Some Koreans do hike with umbrellas.
Some free climbing at Mt. Samseongsan Summit of Mt. Samseongsan Ridge to Tower Summit
(1) Mr. Chong invited me again for a break at some point and bought me Makeli (some kind of an alcoholic drink). After this, he took me to some fun terrain which involved some free climbing.
(2) One hour from the first high point to the main summit (flagged) including our snack and drinking break.
(3) This is the point where I saw Mr. Chong last. I was so busy taking pictures, I lost track of him.
The trail to the tower summit follows the ridge.
Picnic by the cliff Looking back to the main summit of Mt. Samseongsan One of the many crux on this mountain
(1) A lot of people chose to stay below the tower summit. Rocky edges are more fun to hangout at I agree.
It took me 20mins from the main summit to the tower summit.
(2) Looking back to the main summit.
Leaving the tower summit was not easy. I had to hike through a rocky cliff to get around the other side of the tower. I then found a military road and I followed it until it started leaving the ridge.
(3) This is one of the many crux on this mountain. I really admire these women's guts.
Next flagged summit Looking back to the tower summit My traverse ridge
(1) Half hour from the tower summit to the next flagged summit.
(2) Looking back to the tower summit.
(3) Here's my traverse ridge from the second flagged summit. Gwanak Station is behind the first 2 bumps on the right.
Remaining ridge down to Gwanak Park Another crux Descending Mt. Samseongsan
(1) This is the remaining ridge down to Gwanak Park. It's still a long way down.
(2) I seriously don't know how they manage to pass this crux. Old people here must really be in good shape. I got to start drinking more soju.
It took me 1hr from the last summit down to Gwanak Park.
(3) My over all traverse time from Gwanak Station to Gwanak Park was 4 hours.


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Updated: January 9, 2014 Author: Kajtek S