Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring Skiing Weekend Getaway

This weekend was the last weekend for skiing on the Rainbow ski trail at Yongpyong, so to enjoy our last weekend of skiing for the season to the fullest, the boyfriend got us a condo for the weekend right next to the hill. Now, before you go thinking we dropped tons of money into this thing (because for ordinary folks, it can be over 200,000 a night at these places) let me first explain that the boyfriend has lots of friends with connections. After a call to one friend who called to another friend who called and reserved the room, the price dropped down to the membership price of 80,000 won per night and then down again to the off-peak season rate of 65,000 a night. Heck, we got a two bedroom condo with a full kitchen and two bathrooms for only a little more than a love motel (but without the special packets that those lovely places provide as was introduced by the Qi Ranger this week). We rolled into Yongpyong just after 11 pm and crashed in our room, planning to wake up early to hit the slopes as soon as the slopes opened.

I woke to this sight. Yes, on March 26th there was new layer of snow and all the trees were transformed into 눈꽃 (nun-kot, or snow flowers).

We hit the slopes after a breakfast of kimchi jjigae a la boyfriend and due to the considerably excellent ski conditions (and the fact that the cafeteria on rainbow was closed) we skied all day with only one quick break to split a hot dog. And somehow I didn't feel tired and I didn't feel hungry and I didn't want to stop and take a break. It's one of the best days I've had out there.

After all that, around 4 we retired back to the condo, ate Jjapagetti (instant jjajangmyon) and passed out for a few hours. We were woken to the sound of the phone and the boyfriend's friends invited us out to dinner.

Samgyopsal, doengjang jjigae and bokkumbap later and we rolled out of the restaurant full up to our ears. We spent the rest of the evening watching TV and relaxing and trying to digest our dinner.

Early the next morning we arose again early to hit the slopes once again. This time we didn't fool around with the gondola, we took the dirt road right up to the bottom of the Rainbow slope. We had to meet a friend in Seoul at 5pm so we knew it wasn't going to be a long day of skiing and we wanted to make the most of what little time we had.

Unfortunately, the full day of skiing on Saturday left me pretty sore and exhausted for Sunday. Two runs in and we both had to go in and take a break in the cafe for a bit. Two more runs, and another break. Actually, by 12:30 I was quite ready to call it quits. The snow conditions were a bit icy, perhaps from the rain from last week and then the winter like temperatures this weekend. I didn't enjoy the skiing as much and my muscles were weak from the day before.

The boyfriend took one last run down Rainbow 2 slope, which is the hardest on a good day, and today was closed and had not been maintained in a week. I chose the easy route, thankfully, or it would have meant another hour waiting for me to get down.

We made it back to meet our friend just in time. From where we were in Sillim we could see Gwanak Mountain in the distance, and yes, it too was covered in snow. With this week's forecast showing highs  in the high 50's- low 60's (15-20˚C ish) it's hard to believe that there was so much snow to be seen this weekend.

Apparently, Rainbow slope will be closed for the rest of the season, not due to lack of snow, but due to lack of seasonal help as the skiing season draws to a close. Presumably some trails on the lower mountain will stay open for a little longer, provided there's snow to be had. Lift tickets last weekend were only 10,000 won, so if you're interested in spring skiing in Yongpyong, it could be a very economical time to go. And, as this is the coldest region of Korea they have the best snow for the longest of any other part of Korea. But, of course, it's still spring skiing. Love it or hate it.

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