We had last Tuesday, May 10th (5/10), off because it was Buddha’s Birthday. A few weeks previously we had signed up to go to Chuncheon with our climbing gym (Summit Sports Climbing Center) for a climbing festival put on by the outdoor gear company Five Ten. Our gym rented a bus and we departed Seoul bright and early at 6:30am. We weren’t sure what to expect. Mr. Chang, the gym owner, had asked Dave weeks before whether he might be interested in competing in the competition portion of the festival, to which he said no. When we arrived though, it quickly became clear that the competition was really the entire festival.There wasn’t much going on for a beginner like myself. I kind of expected there to be a competition section, an area with shwag and booths, and an area to get beginners and onlookers climbing. I guess some one was missing from our gym, because right off the bat Dave was asked if he wanted to climb and they slapped a competitor sticker on his back. He was Kim Yeong Man that day, which nobody questioned until the very end, about 8 hours later.
The competition started with some top-rope climbs, then moved into bouldering problems, then harder top-rope climbs, and finally finished with a timed top-rope speed climb. Dave did incredibly well and I’m not saying that because he’s my boyfriend. He was awesome in the bouldering part, but by the time they got to the advanced top-rope section, he was thoroughly exhausted and sore, rightfully so. Neither of us have gotten to climb as much as we would like, so he really wasn’t prepared for a full day of competitive climbing.
While he climbed, I cheered on the massive cheerleading squad that our gym had. Many beginners from the gym came to the festival to cheerlead. We smacked yellow inflatable plastic tubes together and chanted Summ-it da da da Summ-it da da da over and over again. It was a dreary rainy day and there were only a few plastic chairs scattered here and there, so everyone was on their feet for most of the day, which added to the exhaustion. If Dave hadn’t been competing, I don’t think it would have been worthwhile for either of us to have been there.
We got back to our climbing gym in Seoul around 8:30pm. Everyone was completely drained and hungry, so Mr. Chang treated everyone to some jajangmyeon, a popular Chinese dish which consists of wheat noodles in a black bean sauce. We put down newspapers on the gym floor and ate in silence. All that could be heard was a TV on in the background and noodle slurping noises. It was the perfect ending to a very long day outside.
Chuncheon is famous for dalk galbi. We had both hoped that we might get to try a little of our favorite Korean food there, but we didn’t, so we’ll just have to go back for a weekend trip.