Baekdu Mountain volcano, April 2003
|Elevation||2,744 m (9,003 ft)|
|Prominence||2,593 m (8,507 ft)|
|Listing||Country high point
|Location||Ryanggang, North Korea|
白頭大幹山脈綿延1400公里，構成了朝鮮半島地形的脊樑，其最高峰是頗受尊崇的白頭山。he revered Baekdusan, the tallest peak of Baekdudaegan, the mountain range that runs 1,400 kilometers, or 870 miles, and forms the geological spine of the Korean Peninsula.
謝潑德計劃於明年正式請求兩國政府允許他徒步走完整個白頭 大幹山脈，這種熱情屆時會面臨考驗。在未得到雙方許可的情況下，任何遊客都無法合法過境。謝潑德稱前不久已向平壤和首爾的政府聯絡部門提出了這個想法。它 們最初的反應都是積極的，但他也被告知，最終決定要視屆時的政治氣氛而定。
2007年，謝潑德和另一名新西蘭人安德魯·杜奇(Andrew Douch)成為最早走完白頭大幹山脈韓國段的外國人。2010年，他與戴維·A·梅森(David A. Mason)出版了關於該路線的英語旅遊指南。這之後，謝潑德在韓國變得小有名氣。
2011年5月，謝潑德帶着10本自己出版的旅遊指南和一封朝鮮-新西蘭友好協會(Korea-New Zealand Friendship Society)的介紹信來到了平壤。該協會是一個非政府組織，倡導朝鮮與新西蘭兩國進行文化交流。他告訴平壤的官員，他想記錄下白頭大幹山脈在朝鮮和韓國境內的所有主要山峰。因為分裂的朝鮮半島上的緊張局勢，朝鮮和韓國都還沒人這麼做過。
在2011年3月至2012年7月間，謝潑德共來過朝鮮四 次，花了總共三個月時間攀登白頭大幹山脈的24座山峰，並為其拍照。他所攀登的大部分山峰位於這個世界上最孤立國家內最難以到達的地方——謝潑德很確定他 是自戰爭以來第一個涉足這些地方的外國人，而正如他在朝鮮的熟人所說，這部分上是因為，沒有人任何其他人曾要求拜訪這些地方。
「儘管我們的民族處於分離狀態，但白頭大幹山脈象徵著朝鮮半島歷史和生態上的延續，」韓國山林廳(Korea Forest Service)的一位局長錢凡權（Chun Bom-kwon，音譯）表示，「謝潑德所做的事情將重申這一點，即雖然白頭大幹山脈被一道籬笆隔成兩半，但它仍是一個整體。」山林廳為謝潑德的朝鮮之旅提供了部分資金。
而在朝鮮，政府將當地山神崇拜元素融入到支撐金氏家族王朝 統治的個人崇拜運動中，白頭山在裡面佔據着重要地位。朝鮮開國者、現任領袖金正恩(Kim Jong-un)的祖父金日成(Kim Il-sung)，號稱曾在開展游擊戰爭反抗日本殖民統治時在白頭山周圍建立「密營」，現在這些地方已被作為聖地保護起來。
New Zealander Hopes to Hike North and South Korea
July 31, 2013
SONGNISAN, South Korea — Roger Shepherd, a former police officer from New Zealand, holds the unusual record of being the first foreigner to set foot in many of the remotest mountains of North Korea since at least the 1950-53 Korean War. Now, he is chasing a dream that looks even more daunting, something no one in living memory has attempted.
He wants to walk the entire Baekdudaegan, the mountain range that runs 1,400 kilometers, or 870 miles, and forms the geological spine of the Korean Peninsula, starting from Baekdusan on the North Korean border with China, then winding down the east coast across the highly fortified demilitarized zone before ending at Jirisan, a mountain near the south coast of South Korea.
Roger ShepherdRoger Shepherd holds the record of being the first foreigner to set foot in many of the remotest mountains of North Korea since at least the 1950-53 Korean War.
With the two Koreas locked in tensions triggered by the North’s Feb. 12 nuclear test, Mr. Shepherd’s dream may sound like little more than that for now. But he remains convinced that he has found something deeply unifying among all Koreans that he believes will eventually persuade the authorities on both sides to recognize the significance of his proposal.
Mr. Shepherd’s ambition draws upon the near-religious reverence Koreans feel for Baekdudaegan, and for Baekdusan, its tallest peak at 2,744 meters, or about 9,000 feet. The South Korean national anthem opens with a reference to Baekdusan. North Koreans calls themselves the “Baekdusan nation.”
“Koreans often say that mountains are part of their DNA, part of who they are,” Mr. Shepherd said in an interview. “When I talk about mountains in South and North Korea, people just ease up and talk about a subject that has no enemy.”
It was Koreans’ love of mountains, especially Baekdudaegan, that has opened doors to him in both Koreas.
That hospitality will be tested next year, when Mr. Shepherd plans to request formally that the two governments allow him to hike the full length of Baekdudaegan. No traveler can legally cross the border without permission from both sides. Mr. Shepherd said that when he recently broached the idea to government contacts in Pyongyang and Seoul, their initial reaction was positive but he was also told that the final decision would depend on the political mood then.
Mr. Shepherd, 47, became a minor celebrity in South Korea after he and a fellow New Zealander, Andrew Douch, became the first foreigners to walk the entire South Korean section of the mountain chain, in 2007, and published an English-language guidebook to the trail, with David A. Mason, in 2010.
Armed with 10 copies of that book and an introduction from the Korea-New Zealand Friendship Society, a nongovernmental group that promotes cultural dialogue between the two countries, Mr. Shepherd arrived in Pyongyang in May 2011. He told officials there that he wanted to do something that, because of tensions on the divided peninsula, no Korean from either side had ever done: document all the main mountains of Baekdudaegan, in both North and South.
And he was pitching this idea in North Korea, where much of the population suffers chronic food shortages and other privations and where hiking for fun — a favorite pastime in South Korea — is hardly known.
“People go to the mountains of North Korea specifically for a purpose: to move from one village to the next, to go looking for herbs and spices, to go hunting and — where you are allowed to — to go to collect wood,” he said. “Literally, North Korean mountains are empty of recreational hikers.”
Mr. Shepherd said that North Korean officials seemed to appreciate a foreigner who had come to the North not to talk politics nor to hand out aid, but with a genuine interest in their mountains. As in South Korea, the idea of reunifying the long-divided peninsula has a strong pull among people in the North, and his contacts in Pyongyang recognized the symbolism of his project.
“They thought it was a good thing for the whole of Korea,” he said. “I remember one of the military officers saying to the effect that, even though Korea was divided, Baekdudaegan is not, but only a bird can travel freely along Baekdudaegan at the moment.”
Between March 2011 and July 2012, Mr. Shepherd visited North Korea four times, spending a total of three months climbing and photographing 24 Baekdudaegan peaks. Most were in some of the most inaccessible parts of the world’s most isolated country — areas where Mr. Shepherd was certain he was the first foreigner to set foot since the war, partly because, as his North Korean contacts told him, no one else had ever asked to visit them before.
Now back in South Korea, living in a house at the foot of Songnisan, a Baekdudaegan mountain 120 kilometers southeast of Seoul, Mr. Shepherd runs Hike Korea and makes a living photographing and writing about mountains and leading hiking tours.
“Although our nation is divided, Baekdudaegan symbolizes the historical and ecological continuity of the peninsula,” said Chun Bom-kwon, a director general in the South’s Korea Forest Service, which partly financed Mr. Shepherd’s North Korea trips. “His work will reaffirm that Baekdudaegan is one entity even though it is cut in half by a fence.”
Each year, thousands of South Koreans make a pilgrimage up the Chinese side of Baekdusan and pray for reunification at the mountaintop lake. In the South, brightly dressed urban hikers offer food and drink at the shrines of the sansin, or mountain gods, along Baekdudaegan at the start of the hiking season.
In the North, Baekdusan features prominently in the government’s campaign to incorporate elements of indigenous mountain worship into the personality cult that buttresses the dynastic rule of the Kim family. The “secret camps” that Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea and grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong-un, purportedly established around Baekdusan when he waged guerrilla war against Japanese colonial rule have been preserved as sacred sites.
Such lore drives Mr. Shepherd’s ambition to become the first person to hike the entire length of Baekdudaegan. Such a journey, he said, could help Koreans affirm their shared national identity after decades of separation that have seen the two sides drift apart in language, culture and economy.
But he remains first of all an explorer.
“It’s never been done before,” he said. “Any adventurer wants to be the first.”