Last weekend I went to Phoenix Park with Adventure Korea for a weekend of skiing. The ski resort is described as such: “This is just 2.5 hours away from Seoul and it has 15 slopes, and 10 lifts, including gondolas. ranging in difficulty from beginner to the professional level. of the 15 slopes, six are advanced, four are intermediate, and five are beginner.”
Here’s what I thought of the trip.
The afternoon skiing on Saturday started at 12:30. It was super packed and the line from the bottom of the hill took me 30 minutes. Fortunately, the hill is divided in two. Some lifts take you to the half point where you can either go down beginner slopes or you can hop on another lift to hit up moderate to advanced slopes. Moderate and advanced sloped are the least crowded. This doesn’t mean they’re empty though. Also, because Koreans love their snowboards and are generally less skilled than their Western counterparts (from what I’ve seen), you’ll find some snowboarders lounging in the middle of the trickier slopes, totally in your way. Because the snow is artificial, unless sun is shining on your line, chances are you’ll encounter ice patches. I don’t want to blame everything on snowboarders, but I think this is totally their fault. When runs are too advanced for them, they tend to coast down and remove all the snow from the surface, leaving only ice. There are so many snowboarders too, so be careful.
I won’t go on about snowboard culture in Korea yet. I’ll save that for another time. But it’s unique and I find it to be pretty funny.
Because I figured I’d rarely have the chance to ski in Korea, I bought the trip package that would let me ski the most. For 218 ooo won I got an afternoon, night and morning lift pass, as well as accommodations, transportation from/to Seoul and ski rental. Basically that adds up to 12 hours of hill time.
For my money, night and morning skiing is where it’s at. The slopes really clear up at night, they’re very well illuminated and they’re groomed before it opens up for the night. Same goes for the morning. I started at around 8:15am for the morning ski and for an hour I was pretty much getting directly back on the lifts after my runs. I’d still be cautious with the advance runs in the morning though, because the hill blocks the sun in the morning, there was some ice and one advanced run had really rough ice balls. Besides that though, it was great!
Accommodations were good too. We stayed at the Youth Hostel, which is situated at the bottom of the hill. So it’s actual ski on-ski off from where you sleep. We had a shared room with 8 people with our own bathroom and shower. The room also had a great view of the mountain.
In conclusion, I think skiing in Korea is worth a look. You won’t find hors-piste because there’s just not enough snow in the area (in fact, it’s all fenced off, not that you’d want to ski on rocks anyway) and even I could tackle the “black diamond” runs with little difficulty, so if you’re a pro, you won’t find much to challenge here. I didn’t check out the park because I don’t think it was open (and I don’t do that stuff), so I don’t know about that. Overall though, it was a fun trip and well worth the money if you need to get your fix of the white stuff.