Forget Canada, Japan, Europe, the States—there’s a tiny, secret island off the coast of South Korea that might be the ultimate spot for adventure powder skiing. It’s called Ulleung Island (or Ulleung-do), known for its rugged volcanic terrain, breathtakingly beautiful waters, and spiritual significance in South Korean culture.
The mysterious island is quite isolated, located 75 miles east of mainland South Korea. In the summertime, it’s a popular hiking spot for tourists, but it’s less well-known for winter getaways, despite being the snowiest place in South Korea. The island is known for collecting over 50 feet of snow during a standard year, and up to six feet in a 24-hour storm cycle.
It’s not for the faint-hearted, however. From the capital Seoul, a trip to Ulleung-do involves at least two days of traveling including a four-hour ferry ride to the island, which can be rough and unreliable in the winter months.
Once you’re on the island, you’re not going to find chairlifts, ski patrollers, or any usual amenities of a ski hill. Founder of Teammax Adventure, Max, who run 4-day backcountry skiing tours in the area, cautions that strong skiing or snowboarding skills are necessary to explore Ulleung-do. He also recommends strong physical fitness and some backcountry experience, as a typical day in the Ulleung-do mountains involves hiking in demanding terrain with limited services. “It’s about 30 or 40 minutes of skiing in total,” Max told Ski Asia in a recent interview. “There are some very steep sections – like a double black run. It’s not easy.”
But if you’re on the hunt for your next powder skiing adventure, and you’re one of those brave and willing enough to go anywhere for snow, a trip to this secret Korean island might be just the thing.
“I can guarantee there won’t be anyone else on the mountain”, says Max. “If you’re looking for a challenge and like the idea of having a mountain to yourself, then Ulleung Island is the place for it.”