PYEONGCHANG, Gangwon Province ― Approximately 180 km east of Seoul, just a couple-hour drive outside of metropolis is the quiet, mountainous county of Pyeongchang in Gangwon Province.
Pyeongchang sits 700 meters above sea level, and with its reputation of having some of the longest, coldest winters in Korea, it is also known as the place to be when it comes to winter sports. As the host of the 2018 Winter Olympics, Pyeongchang offers a laundry list of exciting winter activities bound to test one’s tolerance for Arctic climates. Conquer the slopes
With its mountainous terrain and steep slopes, Pyeongchang is an ideal spot for ski and snowboard lovers. There is no shortage of ski resorts in this small county, which can cater to all ones’ winter sports needs. Some of the most popular skiing hot spots in Pyeongchang include Phoenix Park Ski Resort and Yongpyong Resort.
|Skiiers get ready to take on the Pyeongchang slopes. (Julie Jackson/The Korea Herald)|
The Phoenix Park Ski Resort became popular among locals and internationals because the location was featured on the popular Korean drama “Winter Sonata.” Phoenix Park is a vacation resort that offers everything from hotels, condominiums and golfing to quality slopes for avid skiers and boarders. The resort’s “Ski World” has 22 ski slopes, 12 of which meet quality standards for international competitions.
Ski World is open from November through March, with slopes that are divided among trainees, beginners, intermediate and advanced levels.
Yongpyong Resort is situated at the center of the Baekdudaegan mountain range, and receives in an average snowfall of 250 centimeters per season. In the past, the resort has hosted the World Cup Ski Competition and the Asian Winter Games.
The resort has the capacity to cater to 25,000 guests with its 31 slopes over a total area of 4,300 acres. This is also the location of the largest slope in the country at 180 meters and includes two half pipes and a ramp. It is equipped with a large high pipe, as well as a terrain park, the “Dragon Park.”
Along with its large number of varying slopes, the resort also houses the largest ski house in the nation, the “Dragon Plaza.” The winter season for the Yongpyong Resort runs from November to March. Mush!
Dogs have been used as a means for hunting and travel for centuries. While dog sleds are rarely used nowadays as a means for hunting and transportation, dog sledding is still done for recreation as a competitive sport. And although the sport of dog sled racing is most popular in Arctic regions such as Alaska, Canada and Russia, the cold winters of Pyeongchang allow it to make that short list.
It involves a sled pulled by a team of dogs with a musher at the head of the sled, controlling the reins. Traditionally Siberian Huskies or Alaska malamutes are used for dog sledding, but Alaskan Huskies are the most popular breed for their endurance, speed and dedication.
|The owner of the 700 Village guesthouse sleds along a snowpacked trail. (GnC21)|
The 700 Village guesthouse not only offers lodging for visitors at a location with a spectacular mountain view along with a tranquil, middle-of-nowhere feel, but it also offers people the rare opportunity to take the reins as a dog sled musher. Innkeeper and musher Chung Cheol-hwa has a stable of Alaska malamutes that he trains for dog sledding, both for fun and for racing. Chung trains visitors on how to control the sled and the dogs, along with how to take control of the reins. The 700 Village guesthouse has mapped out trail courses, which take around 30 minutes to complete, where visitors can take the dogs for a spin. A festival of trout
Trout farming first started in Pyeongchang because its frigid climate and clear waters makes it an ideal location for raising trout.
The Pyeongchang Trout Festival is an annual winter fest where visitors can enjoy a variety of fun and unique winter activities. Some of the programs available during the trout festival include four-wheel ATV riding, ice sledding, snow rafting and yes, even ice biking. However, the festival’s main attraction is the trout fishing.
Participants of the annual festival are given the opportunity to go trout fishing on a 25,000 square meter frozen body of water using lines and fish hooks. Fishers can set up a tent on the ice where they can fish through holes that have been drilled through to the water below.
|Ice fishing at the annual Pyeongchang Trout Festival. (GnC21)|
If ice fishing seems a little slow paced, thrill-seekers can put on shorts and a t-shirt and try catching fish with their bare hands in a large trout-filled pool. And once participants have had their fills of ice activities and fishing, any trout that is caught can be prepared at a nearby restaurant and made ready to eat. For more information:
Phoenix Park Ski Resort: http://www.phoenixpark.co.kr/
Yongpyong Resort: http://www.yongpyong.co.kr/index.asp
700 Village: http://700village.co.kr/rb/index.php
Pyeongchang Trout Festival: http://www.festival700.or.kr/
By Julie Jackson (email@example.com)