Dazzling stars scattered endlessly across the night sky are not something Korea University (KU) students regularly see. Sleeping out under that beautiful sky with music in the air and watching three shooting stars fall is even more uncommon. However, members of the Korea University Alpine Club (KUAC), the one and only rock climbing club in KU, have the special opportunity to witness these stunning scenes.
KUAC, one of the most traditional clubs in the school, was first founded in 1938 when KU was still Bosung Professional College. With an exception during the Korean War, the club has continued its activities ever since its establishment. KUAC’s club room is decorated with photos taken from the summits of different mountains, including Mount Everest. Its long history and the active participation of its members have helped the club remain successful.
Currently, KUAC has a total of 11 members, with two female hikers, and countless people in the Old Boys’ (OB) club. The OB club is KUAC’s way of referring to past members who have already graduated from the school. It helps manage the cost of climbing expeditions that may be slightly overwhelming for college students.
In their second year in the club, the members are each placed into different divisions. The two central divisions—food collection and equipment preparation—each prepare food supplies and equipments necessary for mountain climbing. Since rock climbing requires intense physical strength, it is important to keep a certain calorie level throughout hiking. The food collection division calculates the amount of food needed for hiking and prepares it before climbing the mountain.
Right beside the club room, there is another room solely for climbing paraphernalia. Using this room, the equipment preparation division prepares different equipments apt for different types of rock climbing for all the members. Since their climbing sessions last for at least two days, the work the two divisions have to do is crucial as it is directly related to the members’ safety.
▲ KUAC Members Standing in front of the Communications Hall. Provided by KUAC.
What does KUAC do?
Rock climbing practice sessions are held each Tuesday and Thursday at the rock climbing facility at Hwajeong Tiger Dome. After the basic practice is finished, the members use what they have learned through practice in real rock climbing. The regular climbing sessions are held from Friday evening to Saturday, with a total of eight regular sessions during the semester. Ryu Jun Young (‘16, Environmental Science and Ecological Engineering), the captain of KUAC stated that many students are concerned about the amount of time and effort KUAC requires. However, he assures students that its requirements are not unrealistic. He further stated that during exam periods there are no
regular climbing sessions.
During the breaks, the club goes on longer rock climbing trips. This January, the club went to Seorak Mountain located in Kangwon-do. The members always use the rock climbing path rather than the regular hiking road. Ryu stated that the view that can be seen on that route has its own unique beauty that the regular hiking paths do not have.
Other than the regular hiking sessions and long term rock climbing during summer and winter breaks, KUAC annually holds Night of KUAC in which all the current and previous members gather in one place and enjoy a meal together. Usually held in November or December, Night of KUAC not only allows members to enjoy delicious cuisines but also gives them chances to reflect on their past
activities and promise themselves improvement.
▲ KUAC Members in Their Regular Hiking Sessions. Provided by KUAC.
Only in KUAC
Rock climbing is an activity that cannot be successful without teamwork. KUAC, trained to function as a team rather than each individual, is naturally family-like. The club also specifically looks for dedicated members as the sport needs guidance. Therefore, the club is composed of a selective group of members who show enthusiasm for rock climbing, making the club atmosphere intimate and comfortable. Ryu said, “The members are all close to each other regardless of age and experience, and I think this is the biggest merit of joining KUAC.”
“KUAC has gone through a lot together”, Ryu added, explaining when KUAC was in trouble while rock climbing. “In Seorak Mountain, another team waiting behind us lost their patience and started climbing when they should have had waited for us to be done. So the rope accidently got stuck in the rock, making us unable to move. Luckily, we had a spare rope and ended up switching it. It took a long time to get back down that day.” These experiences all strongly unite the club.
The club is currently looking forward to the climbing expeditions they will enjoy in different countries with its new members. Therefore, its short term goal is to recruit new members who are passionate about hiking. For the current teammates, Ryu is thankful for current club members' continuous participation and their efforts to meet the requirements. Although the members are doing a great job, he added that he hopes for a bit more scrupulousness. “Sometimes, I see ways how they could have done a better job. For example, they may have bought the food supplies in a lower price.” Ryu said. As can be seen, Ryu’s care for the well-being of the club extends to even the smallest details.
Ryu sums up the club in a single sentence: An “exit to mundane daily routines.” He encourages other students to try something new, like hiking, in their one and only college life. Climbing up the mountains through the rock climbing path truly gives its climbers a new sensation that can never be felt through other activities that are done on campus. KUAC’s unique pride and meaning lies in laying down their own footsteps on a mountain rather than following those of others. Currently, KUAC is waiting for new members with open arms to join them for the next adventure to come.