Snowboarding for Beginners

You, too, could have moves like this.

Last winter, I was on the brink of contracting Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Okay, that might be a touch melodramatic, but it’s practically true.

Every night I came home from teaching, put on my onesie (for a photo see here), wrapped myself in a duvet, and drank tea on the couch while staring at the calendar and calculating how many days of coldness were left to endure.

Clearly, I needed a hobby.

This winter, I’m counting on snowboarding to keep me sane, to force me outside when my instincts are screaming, “Hibernate, you fool!”

Zeus at High One
The slopes at High One are all named after Greek gods, so beginners can still feel special.

The Season Pass

I locked myself into my new hobby in October, when I got a tip about an early bird special on  11st, a Korean website. The going rate for a season pass to High One is a hefty 500,000 won.

If you’re a resident (i.e., have lived there for 6 months or more) of Gohan or the surrounding areas, the price is slashed to 250,000 won.

If you’re a female and you find out about the online special, you can get your season pass for 170,000 won. That’s about 150 US dollars for the entire season, which goes from the end of November to the end of March.

Sexism has never looked so good.

My co-teacher helped me buy the pass, because doing it on my own would have involved several hours on Google translate and repeated use of all the swear words I possess.

Gear Hire

I don’t have a snowboard or boots, unless you count the leather cowboy boots I brought from Australia. Luckily, I have friends who know people, and Deokhwan Yim came to the rescue.

Gohan Gondola
Deokhwan, far left, can get you lift passes as well as gear hire.

Deokhwan is an English-speaking Korean who runs the Highone2 ski shop opposite the Gohan train station.

You can contact Deokhwan on facebook or via email at He offers season gear hire (board, boots and binding) for 150,000 won. You can rent good quality clothes (jacket & pants) for 10,000 won, and if you ask nicely he might throw in padding as well. (Hint: You want the padding.)


And that’s it. You’re ready to hit the slopes.

I always thought winter sports seemed complicated, but – surprise!- only if you make them that way.


First of all, if you want to blend in, you need to stand out as much as possible. We’re talking neon of the pink and orange variety. On the streets of Korea, muted colors are key. On the slopes, think bright colors and loud patterns.

Bright colors
I fail both by wearing dark colors and by being twice as tall as everyone else.

Trust me when I say it is completely normal.

One of the reasons I always shied away from snowboarding is because I didn’t want to get in people’s way. It was what made me the most self-conscious about learning to surf. People of all ability levels are out there, but you’re the rookie idiot who’s most likely to cause a pile-up.

At High One, there is nothing to worry about. On the chair lift alone, I spotted dozens of snowboarders wiping out, going at a snail’s pace, or just sitting, having a rest. When I got out there, the only thing I felt self-conscious about was my lack of eye-popping colors. I even went down a steep slope on my butt because I was too afraid to try it on the board. Maybe I should have been embarrassed about that, but I wasn’t.

I was more proud than anything, because I didn’t have a broken arm like the wailing woman I scooted past. Best not to think about those things.

Pain & Recovery

I can’t give you tips on how to snowboard. I don’t even know what ‘carving’ really means, except that I’m sure I’m not doing it. But I can tell you what to expect the next day: pain, followed by agony.

It’s not the muscle soreness of a really good workout, it’s the pain of being in a car accident. Your forearms will ache from the falls and from pulling yourself up to a standing position. Expect your neck, tailbone, knees, earlobe, and pinkie toe to hurt, too.

Snowboarder falls
48 hours later, I still feel the pain of that fall.

It’s weird, but I kind of like it.

Finally, I feel like I’ve done something worthwhile over the weekend. I’m living in the moment again, and keeping the winter doldrums at bay. And if I want to spend Sunday afternoon wrapped up in a duvet and drinking hot tea, I’m comfortable calling it ‘recovery,’ not ‘borderline depression.’

Snowboarding reminds me of the buzz I get from traveling, and it pulls me out of the routine of daily life in Korea.

My goals are small: get through the season without any serious injuries. I’m not worried about learning to jump or spin a 360. All I want is a reason to get out of the house every once in a while until spring returns.

This might do the trick.

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      1. Skiing. Probably – someone else is working out the details so I’m just going along with whatever. But yeah, I’ll also be slowly making my way down the beginner slopes. 🙂

        1. I live on the beginner slopes – look out for a giant figure in purple moving slowly downhill. That or the person in purple scooting down the steep parts on her butt. I’m not saying I do that, but I’m not saying I don’t.

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