I went bouldering yesterday for the first time ever- what a great experience! There is a strong relationship between freediving, yoga and climbing- I noticed this in Egypt when I did my AIDA 2 and 3* with Freedive Dahab. You can climb and freedive with these guys in the Sinai . I plan to get back into freediving later this year so it’s important for me to do as much prep as I can beforehand. I’ve wanted to give climbing a go since arriving in Korea last year but all my local queries about the subject lead to vague answers. I came across the big wall near the baseball stadium pretty early on, but how to use it as a foreigner remained a mystery to me.
Over the last few months the pieces have slowly started falling into place. Last year I went to KOTRI’s Reel Rock Film Festival in Daegu. I asked about climbing in Pohang but no one really seemed to know much about it. Lucky for me I was wearing a crazy pair of leggings. Fast forward a few months and I get a Facebook message from a Pohanger who recognised them on a night out at Tilt! He told me about local climbing walls and gyms and invited me to “Bouldering Appreciation Day”. I sort of forgot about it and was planning on surfing but I got a reminder FB message on Friday night. I was on the wrong end of pay day but I couldn’t NOT go. I woke up on Saturday morning with a healthy mix of apprehension and excitement- I was psyched to have the opportunity to try something new but pretty scared of cracking my head open before school on Monday 😉
Fear not! I wasn’t the only beginner and the community is extremely supportive of newbies. It was really nice to be in an environment where people guide you through the learning process without ego or impatience. I believe that a sport can only grow and survive if you nurture new talent and build confidence through proper training and gentle encouragement. It certainly made a refreshing change from some of the other sports I’ve tried in Korea, where you mostly learn by breaking rules no one told you about or having people shout at you.
Some sporting communities here make you question the teaching ability of teachers in Korea because there is so much negativity that comes out on the field and so little proper nurturing methods being employed. I’ve had a few girls confide in me about how their confidence is being knocked by being on the receiving end of egotistical, over-competitive coaching methods. A sport that makes you feel small and worthless is not worth your time, especially if it’s a team sport. I’m more of a solo sport person. I prefer competing against myself and using others as a guide and inspiration for improvement.
We went bouldering around Geumjeongsanseong Fortress in Busan- an area of incredible natural beauty and great vistas. I tried 2 routes on a beginner rock and managed to solve both “problems” (a climb is called a “problem” waiting for a solution). The second rock was more tricky because the lower part of the rock didn’t have much grip and required more arm strength than I currently possess. It’s also very important to wear the correct shoe size. I borrowed Korean size 250 (250cm) for the day. They were fine for the first rock, but the second one demanded shoes that fit super tight. I borrowed somesone’s 245s and got a bit higher with them. Apparently the rule of thumb is to buy a pair 2 pairs smaller than your normal shoe size so you can truly tap the shoe’s spiderman potential. That means I needed size 235- I’m glad I have short toes!
I was lucky enough to win a pair of size 235 climbing shoes at the after party- I had to plank for it (my yoga teacher would be proud).
Pohang has 3 climbing walls that I know of: the first one is near the Baseball stadium, one near Pohang train station and one near Yeongdeok. If you want to know more about climbing in Pohang, go here.
I look forward to growing stronger!