Masters of Olympus: Skiing in Korea

DCIM100SPORTSorry it’s been  a while since my last post. Recently I’ve been sleeping a lot thanks to a few killer colds that came with coughing, sweating and feverish nights. The events of this post took place a few weeks ago.

I’ve never been skiing before. My parents have always thought that a holiday without sun and sand isn’t really a holiday and I’m not sure shooting down a mountain strapped to two sticks is my mums idea of a good time. We went on our trip with with a tour organiser called Enjoy Korea, which was much cheaper and easier than planning the trip ourselves (we tried). It also meant that there would be lots of other people there for the party they had organised for the Saturday night.

The trip took place over Lunar New Year weekend, the biggest holiday on the Korean calendar. Susie was meeting us there as she was weird her family close to the mountain. That meant Josh, Fenners and I had to get the bus and travel to the mountain together. We managed to get the bus but missed all opportunities to go to the toilet on the way. We regretted this for most of the journey.

4Once we got there we quickly met Susie and found our room. We got there first and Susie and I shotgunned the only bed in the very nice ski condo. Josh and Fenners grabbed to sofas and everyone else got a pillow, blanket and a patch of floor. Soon the others arrived, drinks started flowing and he party got started.

In fact, the party got a little crazy. In our room were 10 people in total, but pretty soon word has spread that our room was the place to party. Pretty soon it was flooded with unknown faces. At one point we ordered pizza and had to close ourselves away in a room to prevent a feeding frenzy. Eventually, it began to calm down and we used the lull to kick out everyone everyone else. We planned to get up at 8.30am the next day to hit the slopes. Plans like these always sound better the night before and this was no exception. However, despite some loud late finishers and some hungover slow starters we managed to be on the mountain, kitted out and ready to go by about 10.30. Not bad. Then it was time to ski!

And it turns out skiing is awesome. And, if you don’t mind me saying, I’m not half bad at it. Most of us mastered the “pizza and chips” pretty quickly. Wearing skis felt natural and I quickly taught myself to link my turns and got used to speed. We were skiing with Michael, who was in our room and who was having no trouble on the slopes, Leon, who was calling everyone peasants for most of the weekend and keeping everyone laughing. Josh took some time getting used to skis but by the end of day one was getting the hang of it. Fenners was on a snowboard got into it quickly while Susie was flying ahead, usually doing a little wiggle dance.

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The slopes at High 1 are named after Greek (and Roman) gods. The beginner runs are Athena, the first run, which led to the lifts for Jupiter, the last third of the mountain, and Zeus, which had a starting point at the top and a starting point some way down. We decided to work up in stages, building confidence and skill as we went up. I decided early on that that my goal for the weekend was to progress enough that I could go down the intermediate slope, Hera. Hera was almost double as steep as the steepest beginner slope, but I was determined, even if the others were less sure.

5By the end of day I was shattered, but felt good. The slopes called at 6.30pm for two hours so they could sort out the mountain, and it would open again for anyone who wanted to do some night skiing, but the bus to the party was leaving at 9.30pm so we had to make a choice. That choice was made more difficult as no-one else wanted to suit up and go skiing again in the cold and the drizzle. Thankfully Susie is 1000 types of amazing and she wanted to go so we got ready and headed out into the night.

Skiing at night was great. The slight rain meant you could go very fast and there weren’t many people on the slopes. We decided to run Athena twice, rather than head up the mountain, and after the runs we headed back to get ready for the party.

For the party Enjoy Korea had used 4,000,000₩ (£2,400) to buy barrels of beer. It started pretty slow and at one point everyone at the party seemed to be involved in some kind of drinking game. This had the desired effect and pretty soon the party was in full swing. Everyone was pretty merry by the end. Leon even decided to get a large bottle of apple vodka and spent some time pouring it liberally into all of our mouths. As we were leaving Josh and Leon were telling everyone to go to our room. Thankfully they both passed out pretty fast and we barricaded the door quickly.

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The next day, slightly groggy, we got to the slopes. This was the day. I got a sign from the gods that morning. As I was in the shower I looked down and saw the name of Susie’s make-up. HERA. The wife of Zeus was calling me. The other were a little less sure but eventually Michael, Fenners and Susie were sitting in the ski lift heading right to the top of the mountain, obscured by thick clouds. At one point we could see nothing but each other until the the landing station materialised twenty feet in front of us.

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Hera was a step up. We went down as a team but with gaps between us. For most of the start I couldn’t see anyone or hear anything but my breath and the occasion swear word that passed my lips as I shot left and right down the mountain. Soon we dropped below the cloud line. We had sore legs, sore bums, sore ankles and not much energy, all except Fenners, who asked if we were on the intermediate bit yet. By some miracle none of us had fallen over. We rode to the bottom and congratulated ourselves on a job well done. We really felt like masters of the mountain.

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Fenners and I decided to run Hera again later as the last run of the trip. I was much more confident second time round and much of the cloud had cleared. I was making some beautiful turns when I started going way too fast and went flying about two meters from an unkind looking fence and an unkinder looking drop on the other side of it. One of my skis came off but I was okay. I got to the bottom of the run and we all made our final heroic decent.

The weekend was over, the Masters of Olympus packed up, said goodbye and headed home.

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JamesVsWorld

 

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