Hitting the slopes in Korea: A guide to High 1 Ski Resort part 1

Hera Lift at night

Approaching the Hera lift just before night skiing at High 1

It’s been 7 years since I was last in Korea Skiing terrorizing the slopes at Yongpyong. This year I visited Japan, Korea and China to ski and did a fair bit of research before deciding to go to High 1 Ski resort. A good resource for opening dates and reviews of the resorts in South Korea can be found on http://korea-snow.com/ and they also have a facebook page where you can ask questions

I based the decision on the ease of transportation from Seoul and the cost of living and getting around once I arrived. Last time I went skiing I relied on work colleagues to organize transport and accommodation but my Korean skills aren’t good enough to prevent me being lost in the Korean wilderness at some random bus stop.

The idea of a train in Ski out resort appealed to me as I’ve had a few bus trips I’d care to forget on stuffy busses driven by maniac drivers, travelling by train means you can walk around and enjoy the scenery, take a bathroom break, and in general enjoy the trip without the fear of impending death from a collision with an oncoming truck.

Getting There
High 1 can be reached by the high speed rail system for 18,300 won one way from Cheongyangri (청양리역) station (line 1) to Gohan Station (the trip takes 3 hours 13 mins).

When you arrive at Cheongyangri subway station go out exit 4 to street level and to your right is the Station and a Lotte Department store. Tickets are purchased towards the back of the station and from there you walk down some stairs to the departure point.

Take a right when you come out at street level to Cheonyangni Train Station

Take a right when you come out at street level to Cheonyangni Train Station

Take the escalator up to the main building

Take the escalator up to the main building

Tickets can be purchased at the window

Tickets can be purchased at the window

Gohan station (고한역) is a short distance from High 1 resort, or the resort we stayed at (Jeongseon Mayhills), you can catch a metered taxi by walking down the stairs outside the station, and the cost is about 2-3000won for a short drive, no negotiation with the drivers is required.

Gohan Station

Gohan Station

Gohan Station: Take the stairs down to the taxis waiting below.

Gohan Station: Take the stairs down to the taxis waiting below.

Alternatively you can go directly to the resort via a shuttle bus from Gohan station but for a couple of thousand won it is simpler to go directly to your lodgings by taxi than wait around for an hour or so. This is one of the major benefits of High 1 over Yongpyong where exorbitant taxi and transport costs in town can be a problem unless you stay at the ageing and expensive onsite accommodation.

Getting back is just the reverse of getting there and you can purchase tickets back at the train station. In peak periods you may want to see if you can purchase a return ticket in advance as there’s nothing worse than planning a trip and having to go home because there are no seats available.

Ski Rentals & Lift Tickets
Ski rentals can be done at Jeongseon Mayhills, the resort itself, or one of the hundreds (or so it seemed) of rental places around the resort, and apparently can reduce the cost of your lift passes by 30% with vouchers. From what I read rentals start at around 10,000won for boots and ski’s which is very reasonable for quality ski gear especially given the lift pass discount will save you more than the ski rental. When we went to purchase the lift ticket they also had some deal where certain Korean credit cards, i.e. Lotte, would get a 30% discounted lift ticket.

Shuttle bus at the drop off point at High 1

Shuttle bus at the drop off point at High 1

Shuttle timetable and routes

Shuttle timetable and routes

Lift Ticket window next to bus stop

Lift Ticket window next to bus stop

I brought my own ski’s boots and clothing so I can’t comment on the exact prices of hire around the resort, but apparently rentals are cheaper offsite (onsite rates ranged from 24-34,000 won depending on whether you board and the length of rental). I would suggest buying your own clothing and goggles in advance if you have a plan to go in the future as the cost of rental can be only slightly more expensive than buying your gloves goggles and clothes in advance (if you get a good deal). Korea is cold in winter so gloves and a warm jacket and pants are a must anyway!

The price of lift tickets when we visited in early December was as follows:

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Ticket window and pricing

Morning (Starts 8:30- 4.5hr) OR Afternoon (Starts 12:00, 4.5hr) OR Night (Starts 6:30pm, 4.0hr)= Adult 60,000won,Child 46,000won
Midnight (Starts 8:30, 3 hours)= Adult 40,000won, Child 32,000won
Daytime (Starts 8:30, 8hr)= Adult 74,000won, Child 56,000won
Daytime (Start 9:30, 7hr)= Adult 70,000, Child 54,000won
Afternoon/Night (Start 12:00, 8.5 hr)= Adult 86,000won, Child 68,000won
Night/Midnight (Start 6:30pm, 5hr)= Adult 62,000won, Child 52,000won
Night/Morning (Start 6:30pm, finishes 1:00pm next day, 8hr)= Adult 88,000won, Child 70,000won.

The Resort & Slopes
The lifts are high capacity and well run, the larger ones fit 6 people at a time and your lift ticket is electronic so lines move efficiently and there was little waiting time while I was there.

While I didn’t spend much time at High 1 off the slopes there’s plenty of keep you busy, apparently they are building a water park, and High 1 features a Casino, the only one which allows Koreans to gamble there, entry is 7000 won to the casino. Also they have a theatre, and the town near Gohan has lots of restaurants. The resort is spread out over several locations, but accommodation is not far away outside the resort and regular free shuttles or reasonably priced taxis can get you around town.

High 1 is named due to its elevation (1345m), being the highest elevation ski resort in Korea, which gives it the advantage of having more snow usually (and more powder) than other resorts, although they also have snow machines for early or poor seasons. Apparently having a casino helps subsidize the cost of producing snow so if you go early in the season like I did you’re guaranteed an open slope (albeit the possibility of some icy patches).

High 1 at the base of mountain condo

High 1 at the base of mountain condo

The slopes themselves are great for beginners, and there is a good intermediate slope, both have very long runs so you can build your skills and not get bored. At the time of writing I’ve just checked High 1 and only 2 slopes are closed during the day, so in late December & Jan you will have a greater variety of slopes to choose from. When I went in early December a handful of slopes were open but not a huge range of variety was available so later season skiers will have the advantage of more snow and better choice in slopes. An interactive map of the slopes is available here http://www.high1.com/eng/skiSlope/slope-list.high1

The beginners slopes can get very crowded but they are wide and well designed, there’s always the chance of a collision injury but midweek or night skiing will lessen your chances of this happening.

Lights on as night skiing begins

Lights on as night skiing begins

Night skiing is also available at High 1, so if you take an early train you may be able to purchase an afternoon and evening pass (11 of the 20 slopes are currently open at night), or a pass for the evening and the morning session the next day.

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Athena 3 from the Hill condo exit

High 1 has a bunny (beginners) slope with a magic carpet  (Athena 1 from the mountain hub exit) which takes you up the slope without having to use a lift pass however to get there you will probably need to buy a lift ticket to get to the mountain hub.

Bunny Slope another angle

Bunny Slope another angle

Bunny Slopes from Gondola

Bunny Slopes from Gondola

Getting back from Athena 1 to the base is via Athena 2, which is an intermediate slope, or via the advanced (any of the Apollo slopes- not recommended for beginners!) so if you plan to practice on Athena 1 you may want to ask how to get back to the mountain base. Athena 3 (another beginners slope) is also touted to be one the longest bunny slopes in Korea and starts at the mountain condo ski house where beginners lessons are held.

Next up- Accommodation & Food and Safety at High 1

Wide slopes on Athena 2 from the Ski Lift

Wide slopes on Athena 2 from the Ski Lift

Intermediate Slope Athena 2 from the Chair Lift

Intermediate Slope Athena 2 from the Chair Lift

Warning sign on the Advanced slope, I think this was Apollo 1

Warning sign on the Advanced slope, I think this was Apollo 1

Snowboarders heading down the Apollo 1

Snowboarders heading down the Apollo 1

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