"Here I am at the summit, there is nothing left to climb!"The KBS's Sunday's Special program will show the full life story of a little big hero, Um Hong-Gil, one of the top fourteen professional climbers, renowned as a world record holder for climbing a collected 14 peaks over 8,000m. He reached his 14th summit, the K2 peak, in the Himalayas on July 31.
The show, depicting his spirit of challenge with live pictures and titled 'The live documentary report of Um's collection of 14 peaks over 8,000m-I Came Back Alive,' is expected to charm lots of fans and mountain maniacs.
It will air on September 10.
Since 1986, when K2's summit was first reached, peaks hidden in misty veils for millions of years had shown their unpredictable and capricious faces; sometimes kind and approachable, but most of the times cruel and standoffish. As Um put it,"The point of 8000m always seems to be an entity of co-existence between life and death, a forked road of agonies of pain."
His first ever trek around of the Everest massif took place in 1988, and from that time Um has journeyed more than thirty times on the trails that edge life and death, facing such unbearable moments as bearing witness to the death of those who climbed with him. He recalled that in many cases these tragedies occurred while they were on the verge of conquering the very summit.
According to Um, one of the most difficult things about climbing is the unpredictability of the weather. Throughout the season the conditions are poor, the weather being stormy with high winds and few summit days.
These conditions prevented many teams from reaching the top and were significant factors contributing to several accidents, including the recent deaths of two Koreans.
One of the two teams on K2 from Korea included Han Do-kyu (35, taking care of the expedition's transportation) and Mr. Hyung Myeong-keun (31, News Reporter for the Korean Broadcasting System) had been swept away to their death by a snow avalanche near Camp II, situated above 6000m, on September 14, 1999.
Waiting out a couple of stormy days in desperate conditions on the mountain, being whipped over by a blast of wind and falling, ending up with a broken ankle or shoulder injuries are common occurrences when climbing, claims Um. "It's common to go through high winds and extreme cold", he says, "The ice conditions are dangerous on the rivers in days when recorded temperatures are -25@F or below," adding that "We occasionally encountered winds that exceeded 100km/hour and most of the times travelled over 200km on different glaciers, frozen lakes and rivers, over high mountain terrain that included remote and previously uncrossed passes, and through dense forest or bush. sometimes without either food or fuel." However, despite all the factors which might have enabled him to give up, Um always kept going. He was not discouraged even by the casualties of his fellow climbers. Rather, he tried even harder to speed up the pace, and finally reached K2's summit on July 3l.
by Lee Hoo-nam
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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