Mount Hallasan, South Korea

Hike Mt Hallasan Highest Mountain in Jeju Island

Hike the Highest Mountain in Jeju Island, South Korea

I've booked my unplanned flight for December which was the start of the winter season in South Korea. I thought to myself this would be my chance to see snow for the very first time, from then on I started to check the weather updates in Korea. I've hoped and wished for it however I've never expected that to happen on my trek in Mount Hallasan. Let’s go! 

"This site contains Affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases of a product/service at no added cost to you." ^_^

Travel Tips
  • For flights, Skyscanner is excellent for comparing the best airline deals.
  • For accommodations, our family trusts for reasonable prices.

Gimpo Airport to Yeha Guesthouse

Check-in: Yeha Guesthouse (Estimated Arrival: 9 am)

Address: 9, Samo-gil, Jeju-si Jeju Special Self-Governing Province South Korea, 690-812 Tel. 070-4012-0084/064-724-5506
3 days 2 nights for 38,000 won
Deposit: 8,000 won 
Balance pay on arrival 30,000 won
(Toiletries Small towel, hair drier, tissue Shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toilet paper provided)

Winter Trekking Vacation Checklist:

1. Heatech Top and Bottom
2. Winter Jacket with Fleece
3. Waterproof Pants
4. Poncho. The weather is unpredictable in the mountains.
5. Waterproof gloves
6. Bonnet or Ear Muffler
7. Neck Warmer or Scarf
8. Winter or Hiking Boots. Pair it up with some winter socks or hiking socks
9. Lip Balm for men and Lipstick for ladies
10. Moisturizer (petroleum jelly) and apply Sunblock
11. Snacks (energy bars, cookies)
12. Water 
13. Whistle and a Photocopy of your passport for an emergency. At the same time inform your guesthouse that you're climbing Mt. Hallasan for that day.
14. Everything pack inside a ziplock bag. Bring along small packs of silica gel to absorb moisture.
15. Camera. Place a separate silica gel pack inside your camera bag.

From Jeju City Bus Terminal to Mt. Hallasan Entrance

How to get there: 

Take No.781 at Jeju intercity bus terminal to 5.16 road or 1100 road, an intercity bus bound for Seongpanak. Get off at the entrance Seongpanak.
Travel Time: 30 minutes
Bus Operation:  6:00-21:30, Interval between buses: 10 ~ 20min
Bus Fare: 1,700 won
(Two trail entrances: Eorimok (take bus 1100, last bus 3:00p) and Seongpanak (take bus 5.16, last bus 9:30p)

East Entrance: Seongpanak

It was a bright, sunny morning when I reached the entrance to Mount Hallasan. The trail was white, slippery, and cold. Due to my excitement, I forgot to rent iron climbers for my shoes. No entrance fee was collected. The treacherous road ahead made my pace slow and difficult. It started pretty easy yet it was tough to move one shoe after another on a snow-covered trail, some parts of the mountain had big flat rocks to step on, and I was really thankful for that. 

Rent Ice Cleats or "Iron Climbers" for Snow Traction

I tried to keep my pace fast however it was challenging especially when the trail was as slippery as butter. Some parts of the trail had deep snow, and others were giant puddle bombs, maneuvering the way was like solving boggy traps. I can't afford to have my shoes and socks get wet, every time a handful of snow gets in I have to scrape it out right away. Having cold feet literally on a winter trekking is a bad idea you're prone to having leg cramps and there's no one to help you when that happens. I've never thought about going back to rent some iron climbers, too late when I realized its significant role, so I diverted my attention to just reaching the top. 

Watch Out

Slipped on ice several times yet no major falls. Mistaken deep snow with a puddle bomb and vice versa. I wore knee-high trekking shoes, the upper part, and the outer layer were half-drenched with the melted snow sticking in and out while walking on the trail. When I saw the snow to be really white I assumed it had solid ground I was wrong but that implies some part of the way. I tried to stay away from snow which is light-colored because for sure it holds an ample amount of cold water below its surface, this was an excellent observation I made. 

Eyes on the Ice

One more thing that made me grounded was a hiker's footsteps if it made a long queue of shoe paths then it's safe to follow his leads but when you see one footing is lost, stop and look around. It might be that he stepped on one puddle bomb or he lost his footing and slipped with an aching gluteus maximus which meant he landed on his butt. There were a few climbers before me, and I would like to express my deepest gratitude for their contribution to fellow hikers like me. Thank you. 

Made it Alive

I tried to hike fast, even faster than my normal pace when I was hiking. It was definitely challenging to walk on ice, maybe if I'd woke up earlier and maybe rented the iron climbers I would have made the top. The cut-off time was 12:30 noon, and I arrived around 12 noon. A 30-minute mistake that cost me to reach the top. I didn't even stop for a break, I slowed down a bit when I drank some water and ate my biscuits however no excuse suffices not to reach the top. The reality hit me when one guy tried to convince the gatekeeper to let him in, he even tried to sneak in when the staff was busy explaining to a few other hikers like me the cut-off time and the weather situation. 

Check the Weather

The wind was getting stronger at that time, and it wasn't helping to know that it was already cold and rain started to pour. What I did next is what we usually do in my yoga sessions suck in the abdomen, engage the core and don't forget to breathe. I was still high in energy, my happy hormones still intact so I converted that to a positive feeling of accomplishment. My prons were: I made it without any injuries, walked on snow without iron climbers, and made it through my first winter trek. A solo female climber couldn't be happier, so let me just take a selfie. 

Rest Stop: Jidalaebat Shelter

They sell basic food items in the Jidalaebat Shelter and a nearby toilet for climbers to use. 
Cup Noodles: 1,000 won  
Bottled Water: 1,000 won

By 1:30 pm I went down the mountain. Descending down the mountain is a treacherous ordeal. You must be more cautious, as the trail is slippery and one slipped means face-first doom. This is ice we're talking about one missed step means rolling down in full throttle down the trail, all the grass is covered with snow so there's really nothing to hold on to. During my descent, the wind was really getting stronger each flight even the rain got to the beat of it. Good thing, I came prepared with my poncho, a must to bring on every hike. 

Trekking Poles Helps

Aside from the iron climber try to rent two trekking poles, this comes in handy when you're in doubt about the snow trail ahead. A great way of avoiding puddle bombs along the way, and useful support for balance. Both of these essential things for a winter trek were out of hand during my hike. I can't imagine how I made it through in one piece. All the hikers came prepared except me, a look of puzzlement shows on their faces when they see me empty-handed. 

The Crater

Along the way, I passed through postage that points to an observatory area. I thought to myself I didn't reach the top might as well see at least the crater. A steep flight of metal stairs was the only way to get there, considering the wind and status I still went through the trail. I had to hold on to the metal bars to avoid slipping plus keeping myself steady as the wind blew against me. I made it to the top. 

Smiling Hiker

The crater was absolutely breathtaking. A friendly Korean hiker shared the same mesmerizing view with me, he even took my picture to mark my presence in the mountain. Nowadays with the dawn of selfie sticks, go pro, just about anyone has no reason not to be able to take his own image, so it's kind of hard to find someone willing to take your picture. 

Unexpected Turn

I'm glad I made the turn to see the crater, despite not reaching the top of the mountain, it somehow satisfied my thirst to reach the summit. It struck me that I don't just climb mountains to see the summit which is still true, yet I do it for the experience and the wonderful feeling of being with nature. It's the experience that makes the climb memorable, it's not solely about reaching the top. 

Sometimes things don't go the way planned, like for me on that very day I was unable to meet the expected cut-off time which is a good thing for it reminded me of the true essence of mountain climbing. If you're planning to climb Mt. Hallasan or any mountain wake up early and start your hike as early as you can. It's a basic rule of climbing mountains, cliché as it may sound "Early birds always catch the worm."

Mt. Hallasan to Jeju Terminal

How to get back to Jeju Terminal:

Cross the road from the Mt. Hallasan Office or Parking lot and wait for the bus. Located just on the other side of the road where the bus alights for the Mt. Hallasan entrance. I was there before 4 pm and just right to catch Bus 782 right away which goes straight to Jeju Bus Terminal. 

Timeline: Arrived at the East Entrance: Seongpanak 9:14 am. Started the trek around 10am, and reached J Shelter around 12:30 noon, 30 minutes late for the cut-off time. Lunch. Toilet break. By 1:30, I went down the mountain. 

Heavenly Soup

I went back to my hostel, rested and took a quick shower. Then I had my dinner at a restaurant near Jeju Bus Terminal. The Ajumma who owns the place had a hard time entertaining me, good thing the gentleman helped me out with my order. The pork soup was heavenly goodness after a tiring, cold trek in Mount Hallasan. It was rich in flavor while the meat was tender and tasty. I just love Korean Food especially made the traditional way.

Jeju Nanta Theatre

Afterwards, I watched a late-night musical show at Jeju Nanta Theatre before ending the night. I booked a regular ticket in the guesthouse, yet I was ushered to the VIP seat when I arrived there. Woohoo! 

Have fun and be safe ^__^

Do you want more adventure?
If you still have one more day to spare why not go to Nami Island and check out the most romantic island in South Korea.

Where am I going next?

No comments

Post a Comment