DONGDUCHEON, South Korea – As 2013 ends and 2014 begins, many people have something in mind that they want to accomplish in the upcoming new year. This goal can lead to success in a career, physical fitness or health, happiness within their family, or exploring a new hobby.
Sebastopol, Calif., native 1st Lt. Elyse Ping Medvigy, a field artillery officer assigned to Battery A, 1st Battalion, 38th Field Artillery Regiment, 210th Field Artillery Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, enjoys rock climbing in her spare time.
“I rock climb with the local Dongducheon climbing team,” said Ping Medvigy. “I try to go every night, but it depends on work, so I usually go three to four times a week.”
Ping Medvigy has always been an avid mountaineer. She joined this climbing team when 1st Lt. Kevin Pelto from 70th Brigade Support Battalion, 210th FA Bde., who was the only American on the team, invited her to come out climbing with him.
“Being a strong rock climber really benefits me in mountaineering,” said Ping Medvigy. “I started rock climbing when I was a kid and didn’t really do it very much until I came out here and joined the team.”
Ping Medvigy added that rock climbing tests her both mentally and physically the same way the military tests her military bearing and discipline.
“Physically, it benefits my upper body strength,” she said. “A lot of different challenging routes require mental toughness, so it helps me fine-tune my discipline and my drive to accomplish difficult tasks.”
According to Ping Medvigy, her leisure activity is a good opportunity to hang out with local Koreans. The language barrier presents a challenge, but Ping Medvigy enjoys spending time with her Korean teammates.
“There aren’t any Americans that climb on this team; I am like an ambassador for the Army,” she said. “It’s a really tight community.”
She best describes it as playing a game of charades. Teammates use demonstrations to share different rock climbing skills and use hand gestures to encourage each other.
By getting to know her teammates, Ping Medvigy has had the opportunity to discover the Korean outdoors.
“There are a lot of great outdoor activities in the summer and ice climbing in the winter,” she said.
Even if you are not a climber, Ping Medvigy suggests getting outdoors and exploring. By participating in a new hobby with local communities, soldiers can see all the things Korea has to offer.