If you hike Mt. Taebaek in the winter be diligent in preparing everything you need to be comfortable.

Mt. Taebaek is in Taebaek Provinvial Park in Gangwon-do on the eastern side of the country. It is the highest peak in the Taebaek Mountains at 1567 vertical meters. It’s famous for it’s beauty and is a popular hiking destination, even in the snowy winter months.

I hiked Mt. Taebaek during the weekend of the Taebaek Snow Festival in January, and it was very busy.  It was cold, but luckily the weather was clear and not too windy. This was my first experience doing any kind of mountain hike in the snow and ice, and I was unprepared, to say the least. Still it was a magnificent experience that I will always remember.

If you are thinking about hiking Mt. Taebaek in the winter, here are some points to keep in mind before you go.

 

1.It’s far from Seoul

The trip from Seoul takes about 4 hours by bus, and it is through the mountains and into the remote wilderness. Buses from Seoul Station leave around 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning, so depending how far away you live, you must wake up early. It will then take at least three hours to hike up and back down again, so it’s not a feasible day trip from Seoul.

Instead, you should either spend the night in Taebaek city either the night before your hike or the night after. Plus, there are other attractions to see in the park. I spent the night before my hike and came back to Seoul after the hike. Some people prefer to wake up early to watch the sunrise from the top of the mountain.

sunlight in tall trees

 

2. It is crowded on the trail

Despite Mt. Taebaek being so remote and far from Seoul, this is a popular hike for outdoor enthusiasts, even in the winter. That said, the trail will be packed with hikers. When I went, it was literally packed. You probably would never imagine seeing a hiking trail packed so full of people. The bottom is particularly crowded, but it does thin out toward the top, marginally.

It will be crowded coming down too, and you can expect people to fall into you. You will also see people taking shortcuts off the trail to try and bypass everyone. However, the snow is not packed there and is more difficult to walk on.

mt. taebaek hiking trail

 

3. Bring crampons for your shoes

This is a must. If you go with a tour group, they should have some that you can borrow. Otherwise, buy some. Even if you only use them once, they will be worth it for this hike. I suppose it would be possible to go without them, but the trail is ice and packed snow, so it will be too challenging to be any fun if you don’t have them.

The hike itself is not difficult, but the ice makes it difficult. And who knows, maybe you will enjoy snow hiking so much that you will do it again, so if you bought your own crampons, they will turn out to be an investment.

mt. taebaek hiking

 

4. Take a walking stick

I didn’t have one when I climbed Mt. Taebaek, but it probably would have made the hike easier. It gets slippery as the snow gets trampled on, melted, and turned into ice. Having a walking stick should help prevent you from wiping out too many times. It will also help you pull yourself up the steps and inclines if you ate getting tired toward the top.

trees and snow

 

5. Wear warm, waterproof, windproof clothing

It might seem obvious, but don’t underestimate how important this is. You will be warm from hiking, but the temperature will likely be below zero. It can get windy on the top, and the wind is like a thousand icy knives. You don’t want it getting through your jacket and pants. I only wore jeans, and it wasn’t enough.

Don’t forget about protecting your head, ears, neck, and nose. And if it snows, or worse, rains while you are hiking, and your clothes aren’t waterproof, may God have mercy on your soul.

wind-blown snow tree

 

6. Have waterproof shoes

I can’t stress this enough. If you read my post from the snow festival the day before, you will know that I didn’t prepare the proper footwear for this trip. I wore Uggs, which are useless if the ground is wet.

As you hike, you will slip and slide, and your feet will get covered in snow and quickly become wet and so so so cold. Crampons won’t prevent this. Thus, it is essential that you wear waterproof hiking shoes so your little toesies don’t fall off. Frostbite is real, yo.

mt. taebaek top sign

 

7. Pack water and something warm to drink

You are hiking, after all, so bring something to drink. I always prefer simple water when I do any kind of physical activity, since other drinks can make you more dehydrated. However, you also might want to pack a thermos of something warm, like tea, cocoa, coffee, or even soup.

If you are lucky and the top is not too windy, you might have a chance to enjoy a mini picnic. If you forget to bring a hot drink, buy one at the bottom of the trail when you are finished.

mt. taebaek summit

 

8. You will likely fall on your ass

There’s a chance you will fall, either on the way up or on the way down, maybe both. The crampons do help a lot in keeping your feet steady, and I imagine a walking stick would make things even better. In my experience, I only fell on the way down because I was part of a domino effect. It is slippery. It is a bit trickier coming down, and sometimes you fall not due to your own steps, but because someone behind you is going down and takes you with them.

top of mt. taebaek

 

9. Don’t forget to enjoy the scenery

The trail is crowded, cold, and slippery. But it will also be beautiful. Don’t ignore the snowy trees along the trail or the wind-blown drifts on the top. You won’t be very happy with yourself if you are too focused on the negative aspects of a snow hike that you forget to enjoy the moment. So, relax for a minute, forget about the cold, and take in the winter wonderland of the Taebaek Mountains.

taebaek mountains

view from mt. taebaek

 

Do you have any experiences hiking Mt. Taebaek or any other mountain in the snow and ice? Let me know about it in the comment section below.

And please subscribe to my blog for more updates!

 

Read: Taebaek snow sculptures

Read: Taebaek snow festival

 

 

Author

22 Comments

  1. Pingback: What to Expect When Teaching in a Hagwon - Stewie Overseas

  2. Pingback: Taebaek snow festival, part 2 – Stewie Overseas

  3. Pingback: Mt. Taebaek snow sculptures – Stewie Overseas

  4. Oh no Uggs 🙂 Your must have been quite numb by the end of the hike. But hey we live and learn. The views are gorgeous. I have never hiked in snow so it is something I would love to do.

    • I survived with all my toes. It was cold and wet and uncomfortable, but the views and the experience were worth it. I hope you get to try it some day.

      • Oh yes. It does look worth it. Your tips make me wiser about undertaking it 🙂 I recently watched a documentary on a guy who hikes the hills in Scotland in the snow and that has made me quite eager for it!

          • But now when I look back at that experience, I remember that I was cold, but can’t remember what it felt like. More than that, I remember the wonderful memories that I made inspite of it.

Leave a reply!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Hey! Why you tryna steal my stuff?