South Korea - A Commercial Cave trip report: Hwanseongul

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South Korea - A Commercial Cave trip report: Hwanseongul

Postby rchrds » Dec 29, 2013 3:50 am

Ok- check out my last post about Gosu cave (http://forums.caves.org/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=15882) and Daegeumgul (http://forums.caves.org/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=15884).

You can find travel directions for Hwanseongul here: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/ ... cid=264551

SO, our second cave on this trip was Hwanseongul. (gul means cave, so I will dispense with the redundancy.) Hwanseongul and Daegeumgul are located in the same valley, on opposite sides from each other. They are vastly different caves. It is difficult to imagine how two caves so different from one another could be at the same elevation and in the same valley. Regardless, you get to pay for each cave at the same toll booth, near the parking lot.
Beware- each cave is a separate ticket, and in the case of the tram (yes tram) for Hwanseongul, you pay for that separately at the tram station up the valley. The tram fee is included in the cave fee for Daegeumgul. The Cave fee for Hwanseongul was only ~$4, and the tram fee was an additional ~$7, round trip. If the weather is nice, I would recommend the walk. The tram does elevate you above the trees however, providing a very nice view of some impressive karst terrain. Regardless, it is a 1.4 kilometer walk up a hill from the ticket gate to the beginning of the tram. The walk from the tram is only about .8km further, but it is TAG steep up the mountain. The tram was a nice diversion.

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Once you arrive at the entrance, you are treated to possibly the most miserable commercial cave map ever produced. It does not at all prepare you for the enormity of the cave, or even, tell you much at all about the cave.

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The entrance is quite large- with the 25(f) degree air being sucked quite far into the entrance passage. The ticket gate follows the rest of the gate motifs throughout the park- a take on the korean habit of putting roofed gates in front of things like temples.

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Here you can see what being a state run cave attraction does in the form of money- these stainless steel walkways (with bus stop style covers wherever the roof dripped) went throughout the 1.6km of walkway included on the tour. Quite impressive, from an engineering standpoint, but then Koreans have a thing about tunnels. The flip side to this, is that this is a MAJOR attraction. There are pictures on the entrance boards that show the walkways packed with people chest to back on the trail up to the cave, and on the walkways in the summers. Thankfully, we came on an extremely cold day, and were frequently the only people in a given section of cave.

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The cave turns the corner and quickly opens into large trunk passage- quite impressively sized. The publications boast 40 meters of width, and as much high, I would have guessed larger in places, particularly height. Based on the quality of the map, I think they were guessing.

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There weren't a whole lot of formations, aside from a few areas of nice rimstone, at least on the tourist trail, but the size of the cave was definitely the draw. Here, is one of the larger rooms, where the trail climbs up and over a large block, overlooking two of the three feeder streams within the cave.

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Overall, the lighting was quite good- and, unlike the first cave, Gosu cave, which was overlit in areas, and then underlit in others, always making you wish you had a flashlight, this one was lit in just the right places that ambient light rarely made you wish you had your Sten in your pocket. Here, some lights illuminate the sandstone caprock collapsing into a dome area.

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Unfortunately, there were some strange things in the cave- one of which must have been caused by the original lighting guy's kids getting involved, resulting in strings of colored LED rope lights in odd places in the cave- always to detrimental effect.

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The other odd thing were a couple of cable/rope bridges in the cave. For no particular reason. They even had clever names. Which led to mocking.

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I must mention that there was were three sumps visible in the cave. One of which was a tiny thing, that may or may not have just led off into a small plunge pool affair below some formations. The other two were obviously connected to each other- the upstream siphon being the most impressive, crystal clear blue. (Sorry, the camera had a hard time with water pics.)

Chrissy also got a good picture of one of their more popular formations- the heart shape hole.

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On our way out, we did manage to hear some of the local bat residents, who should have been hibernating hanging out near the entrance to the cave. The other Koreans obviously had no idea what was going on as we searched around for the small crack near the walkway that they were screeching from. We were quite happy to hear they were alive and well. And one last shot on the way out of the cave. We were, by the way, the last ones in the cave, having spent over two hours. This is apparently quite odd- koreans see a trail and they like to walk FAST. They closed the cave behind us, and a whole tram full of impatient koreans were waiting for us to get on so they could go home.




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rchrds
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Re: South Korea - A Commercial Cave trip report: Hwanseongul

Postby harrym » Sep 11, 2014 5:22 pm

Harry Marinakis
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