|Oh Eun-sun plants a Korean national flag yesterday at the crest of Nepal’s Annapurna. Captured from KBS reporting|
Oh Eun-sun yesterday became the first woman ever to successfully summit all 14 eight-thousanders, cheering as she planted a Korean flag at the crest of Nepal’s Annapurna, the 10th-highest peak in the world.
At about 6:15 p.m., Oh joined an elite group of 19 other climbers who have scaled each of the summits that rise more than 8,000 meters (26,247 feet) above sea level.
“I want to share this moment with the people of Korea. I also want to thank everyone,” Oh said as she reached the peak.
Oh had left Camp 4 at 7,200 meters at 5 a.m. to begin her 13-hour, 15-minute trek to the top. Her victory completed a journey that had begun 12 years, 9 months and 10 days earlier, when she scaled her first eight-thousander, Gasherbrum II.
Oh beat out three other women in the race to become the first female mountaineer to summit the eight-thousanders, which are clustered around the Himalayan and Kakakoram ranges in Nepal, China, Pakistan and India.
Nives Meroi of Italy has conquered 11, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner of Austria has scaled 12, and Oh’s closest rival, Edurne Pasaban of Spain, finished her 13th eight-thousander when she summited Annapurna on April 17.
What makes Oh’s feat all the more impressive is that she lacks the physique most would expect of a climber who tackles the most treacherous terrain on earth. Oh measures only 155 centimeters (5 feet) tall and weighs 50 kilograms (110 pounds). The knapsack that she carries, at 20 kilograms, is nearly half her body weight.
Oh joins three other Koreans who have scaled all 14 eight-thousanders: Um Hong-gil, Park Young-seok and Han Wang-yong. With her success, Korea has produced more climbers to accomplish the feat than any other country.
Oh completed the climb despite strong winds and temperatures that fell below minus 30 degrees Celsius (minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit), after heavy winds put off an attempt two days earlier. Oh had been set to take on the mountain last October, but heavy fog and wind forced her to pull out.
Oh also has the distinction of being the first Korean female climber to conquer the so-called Seven Summits, the seven highest mountains of each of the seven continents.
As Oh triumphed, another Korean mountain-climbing team fell victim to Annapurna’s treacherous weather. Two climbers traveling with Kim Hong-bin, a Korean climber who lost all 10 of his fingers during a 1991 climb up Mount McKinley in Alaska, went missing on Saturday, and yesterday the body of one of the missing climbers was spotted by a rescue helicopter. More information is expected to be released today.
Four members of the team, including Kim, were rescued and are currently being treated for back injuries and frostbite at a hospital in Nepal.
By Jason Kim [email@example.com]
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