by FIONA VAN TYNE
Photo by Nicole Rafael
We all know that the Korean term of “famous” just means “popular”. High 1 is thought to be the most “famous” resort in Korea, and by that they mean busy.
The mountain is located in the Gangwon-do province due north of Busan this resort is just the thing to get the more advanced mountain goers buzzing.
The mountain its self has about 20 slopes ranging from beginner courses to expert only. The majority of the courses are labeled as “reds” which are translated to the better known “blacks”. The mountain does have two very long beginner runs that will challenge any new comer to the slopes, but is severely lacking in the “intermediate” or “blue” category.
Though there is no large “bunny hill” as you would find most places there are about 3 different set ups that are for the first timers. Only one has a “t bar” or a conveyer belt to help get from the bottom of the section to the top.
The map of the mountain is not very clear but its not terribly difficult to figure out once you are on the mountain.
Highlights of High 1
Gondola service– There are 3 Gondola that service the mountain. With 5 stops total. If you end up staying on the mountain it is easy to get to and from the different ski houses this way. Another perk is that sometimes at the top it gets very cold and windy, if you are out winter sporting and have to take the classic chair lift up constantly, you are going to stay cold, and not want to be out as long. The gondolas offer a break from the wind and cold and keep your spirits alight. Granted it costs a little extra for the Gondola but if you book a ski package it should be included. Not to mention if you are taking a break, the gondola offers BREATHTAKING views of the surrounding mountains.
More advanced courses– If you have been winter sporting for a while then spending 2 days on a mountain can be enjoyable but it can be easy to get used to the mountain. High 1 is huge, and can take 2 full days to be able to do every run. There are 2 areas for jumps, rails and of course a half pipe. They are not always open so check with “guest services” to find out which areas are open for the day.
Photo by Nicole Rafael
More advanced courses bring in more advanced skiers– this is important because the only thing worse than catching an edge and falling flat on your behind, is when someone cuts you off so close you run in to the fence. At High 1, given the nature of the difficult terrain the snow sports enthusiasts are capable of keeping their distance. Granted on the beginner courses you are going to face some challenges with other people, but once you begin on the intermediate or advanced courses there is plenty of room to enjoy yourself.
There is a CASINO there- enough said.
Downfalls of High 1
Lines– Being the “most famous” resort in Korea, there are going to be a great amount of lines. Its going to take a while to get on said gondolas and each ski lift respectively. More people means more waiting time and you may not get as much time as you want on the slopes.
Hard mountain– the mountain gets a ton of snow, which is really nice, but they also make their own snow. The quality of the slopes is good but the mountain is about the density of concrete. Good for going fast, terrible for falling down. If you are new to snow sports prepare for a longer recovery time.
Resort Food– Now this is true for most ski resorts in Korea, the lack of food choices and space to eat lunch. There are 4 cafeterias located in the resort which will sell you Korean food for double what you would pay at home, this is completely fine, but where high 1 is lacking is the outside restaurants, there are only 4-5 on the mountain that are easy to get to. Compare with Muju’s little village of food, shops and clubs and high 1 is sparse. So it is much easier if you pack your own or prepare to eat KFC for a few meals.
How to get to High 1
So there are a two main ways you can do this:
With a Group:
Booking a trip to high 1 with a group in Busan is doable but you have a ton of restrictions. Companies offer ski and snowboard weekenders almost every month and these trips book out. They are on the cheaper end are usually filled with people who like to act like children, get drunk all the time and have no respect for personal space. If you enjoy spending a weekend with 15 people crammed in to a room make for 4 Koreans while being at the mercy of the group of 5 wasted people to get to sleep then this is the kind of trip for you. If your wallet is hurting and your personal tolerance is up then go for it! Things are all included except for food and generally the price is really good. They usually have a bus going from Busan, but many companies depart from Degu as well which is close! A few tours leave from Seoul as well for you frequent Seoul trippers.
On your own:
So you selected to go on your own, or with a smaller group of friends. How do you get to high 1? Well, you can always book through a travel agent, which is difficult because sometimes the fees can get you. Doing it on your own is easy as well. Go on the English version of their website and poke around. They usually offer packages that if you stay on the resort you can get a discount, but there are plenty and I mean PLENTY of places to stay in the village nearby.
You can take the train up to Seoul then the train over to Kohan (sometimes spelled Gohan), but that seems a bit silly.
There is a Bus that goes from Busan to Kohan bus terminal and back. This bus only goes 3 times a day, so check times before you go. The bus costs 33,000 won one way. You can also go from Taeback terminal and that bus costs 30,700 won. Note that the resort is closer to Kohan. From the bus terminal you can get a taxi that will take you to either your resort or your accommodation.
Note: for more bus information, if you call the resort and ask about the bus, they usually can find someone in English to give you all the information you would need. Also you can ask how to get from the village to the resort; sometimes they have shuttle buses so it would be a good chance to get to know where you need to go! Being the most “famous” resort, they usually have enough English speakers.
The English version of their website is here: High 1 English