Monday, December 15, 2014

goddamn winter

I love winter... when it behaves itself. But on days like today, when the temperatures are above freezing and the snow has been coming down in big, wet flakes, leaving slick slush on the ground, I'm hatin' life. My path to Dongguk is hilly, and many of those hills are paved over in smooth red brick, which makes them ripe for slippage. For most Koreans, who are light as a feather and likely to be carried away by a strong breeze, this isn't a problem: they somehow manage to walk along icy surfaces without missing a beat. For a big, bumbling, lumbering guy like me, though, slick surfaces are a nightmare, and I'm always worried about falling on my ass, twisting a knee, or doing something horrible to an ankle.

The obvious solution would be snow cleats, but I haven't bought any yet, and am not quite sure where I'd get them. So tonight, when I walk home late, after the slush has frozen and turned Seoul into a fucking ice rink, I'm betting that I'll be falling on my ass at least once. I'm seriously considering calling a cab to pick me up, but I'd feel somewhat guilty about asking a driver to slip and slide his way uphill to our campus. (Which is why I'm also going to forgo ordering a delivery dinner tonight: I watched those poor guys on mopeds struggling up and down our campus's hills earlier today, and it wasn't a pretty sight.)

This also means that my intended Namsan hike is going to have to be canceled. Grrr.

ADDENDUM: As far as I know, Koreans don't normally salt or sand their sidewalks and roadways. Part of that culture of ignoring safety, I guess. This is in tune with how Korean college campuses power down late at night, leaving stragglers to pick their way across campus in near-total darkness. Better watch that footing.



Charles said...

SNU religiously salts its sidewalks, so the disregard for snow safety is not universal. In general, though... yeah. I remember coming to Korea from upstate New York and seeing people sweep snow away with a broom. With a broom. Heh. I'd like to see someone try to sweep away the crap we got tonight.

Oh, and you can pick up crampons at pretty much any hiking/outdoor goods store. If you're planning on tackling hills in snow and ice, they will definitely come in handy.

Kevin Kim said...

Good for SNU, those bastards! I never saw salting when I was at Daegu Catholic, nor at Sookmyung, nor anywhere on any of the local streets in Seoul that I've walked on over the years. There ain't no salting going on here at Dongguk, either, unless the salt guys have been out this evening while I've been toiling away in the office.

Tom reported that a dude in his neighborhood has salted the huge uphill street that leads to Tom's building. These deeds are newsworthy because rare.

re: crampons

I made the mistake of asking my parents for crampons back when I was at Sookmyung. They took me literally and got some, but the gear was unwearable. Crampons are way spikier than cleats, which are what I really need. I also think that crampons would eventually collapse under my great weight, given their weak, wedge-shaped, sawtooth tips. Cleats might break off, too, but they're so stubby that I imagine they'd last longer.

At a guess, cleats are available at the same places where you can find crampons. Now I just need to locate these hiking/outdoors stores...

Elisson said...

Winter is icumen in
Lhude sing Goddamn

Charles said...

Ah, I hadn't realized that snow cleats and crampons were different. I must admit that I have never worn either. I've been hiking in the winter, and I've climbed up some icy and snow mountains, but I've always prided myself on my sure footing. No doubt crampons would have made some of these hikes a lot easier, of course.

And I think you're probably right about the rareness of salting/sanding. I've never seen sanding here, and I'm trying to think of where I've seen salting outside of SNU. Can't come up with anything off the top of my head. But thank god for the ajeossis who must be getting up before the sun to throw salt on the path I take to school.