The best top-to-bottom resort in Korea, Idyllically located in remote Gangwon-do Province.
In the mountains west of Taebaek, High1 is a modern ski resort that has, arguably, the best snow, the best facilities and the most varied and interesting pisted runs in South Korea. The resort is spread over three peaks overlooking a deep valley, with a large hotel complex at it's base, complete with one of Korea's only casino's....and this is why the locals flock here, gambling themselves in to rapture through the nights. Quite wonderfully, this renders the ski slopes largely empty through the day - and they really don't seem to know what they are missing. Genuinelly, this is a good ski resort with some of the most serious ski terrain in the country. High 1 is less a golf / water-park / ski all-in-one holiday resort (as is often the case elsewhere in Korea); instead it's a proper ski hill, with proper runs, a decent lift network and good quality, reliable snow cover.
Skiing in High 1
At 1,340m, the resort sees plenty of decent snow across its 18 varied and genuinelly interesting slopes. It is a rather spread out affairm with three base areas, our favourite of being the remote High1 Hotel, located down one side of the mountain with its own dedicated gondola direct to the top. The main base areas are down at Mountain House, which is a purpose-built complex above the town of coal-mining town of Sabuk, and lower down at Valley House; the Valley Gondola connecting these two bases.
There are three 8-person gondolas, and then seven modern, high-volume chair lifts, and just the one T-bar...and there you go - the best-maintained, most efficient lift system in Korea. The various top-to-bottom routes cling to the ridges and then funnelling in to the valley at various points, with the easier green runs dropping in early and some of the more challenging blacks saving it for later. It really is a good fun, a natural ski bowl with some interesting terrain of wildly varying pitch.
They also do a good job with their freestyle; the park isn’t quite as impressive as the more specialist setups elswehere in Korea, but High1 is otherwise the best freestyle hill you’ll find in Korea.
It simply doesn't happen in Korea. You stay on the pistes, with the trees behind impenetrable fences.
There is more in High 1 then elsewhere in Korea. Now...that's offers you no challenge comparable to what's on offer in next door Japan, but the runs under the Victoria Lift and then, on the opposite side of the valley, dropping down from the Mountain Hub are steep, sometimes mogulled and - on the latter - complete with a natural half-pipe.
A really pleasant winter playground awaits - get yourself up to Mountain Top and then any route down to Mountain House or, further still, Valley Gondola is enjoyable. Pick up the speed, feel your edges and carve until your heart's desire.
The Valley Course, the longest run at 4.2 km with a 645m altitude drop, is straight, easy, wide and its inclination is low. Thus, ithe perfect beginners run from top to bottom.
The locals seemingly prefer snowboarding, so you won't feel odd. No flat sections of note to worry about, though it does get rather shallow on the valley floor.
Drop down from the Mountain House, a short shuttle ride, and then you find yourself in 'Kangwonland' - a massive hotel, conventional hall and casino complex. Here, restaurants abound, there is even a nightclub, cigar bar and a new water-park going up. This is where nightlife, Korean-style, peaks which involves a delightful Korean feast (though there are Italian and Japanese restaurants also), a bit of karaoke and then pulling an all-nighter in the casino.
However, we prefer to place our guests in the quieter, more sedate environment of the High 1 hotel, which affords easier access to the slopes (that's why you are here, after all!). This hotel is utterly remote, well away from the thrills of Kangwonland, so quieter evenings revolve around the 'High Land' restaurant (pretty decent Chinese and Korean food), and also the hotel's pleasant bar & lounge area.
A good place to be - the slopes offer nothing to fear, the hotels are child-friendly and the Korean's love kids!