Oh becomes first woman to scale 14 tallest peaks

Home > National > People

print dictionary print

Oh becomes first woman to scale 14 tallest peaks


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 Eun-sun

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 [jason@joongang.co.kr]

Related Korean Article

“고미영 사진 정상에 묻었습니다 … 하산합니다”

'철녀'(鐵女) 오은선(44.블랙야크) 대장이 세계 여성 산악인으로는 최초로 한국의 오은선(44·블랙야크) 대장이 드디어 해냈다. 해발 8091m 안나푸르나 정상에 우뚝 선 것이다. 세계에서 처음으로 히말라야 8000m 이상 고봉 14좌를 완등한 최초의 여성이 된 것이다. 27일 네팔 현지시간으로 오후 3시(한국시간 오후 6시15분). 숨죽여 등정 소식을 기다리고 있는 베이스캠프 무전기가 지지직 울렸다. 이어 하아 하아 가쁜 숨을 몰아 쉬는 오 대장의 쉰 목소리.

“여기는 정상입니다. 너무 기쁩니다. 대한민국 국민과 기쁨을 함께 나누고 싶습니다. 정말 고맙습니다. 엄마 아빠가 가장 생각납니다.”

밤새워 오 대장을 추적하던 베이스캠프에서 순간 환호성이 터졌다. 더러 감격에 겨워 우는 사람도 보인다. 히말라야가 모두 오은선 대장 발 아래 있었다. 자신이 피켈에 매단 태극기가 힘차게 펄럭였다. 8000m 이상의 백색 세계. 신들의 영역이라 불리는 안나푸르나 정상. 지난해 좌절을 딛고 재도전 끝에 성공한 안나푸르나봉의 꼭짓점. 이로써 대한민국은 절대 깨지지 않을 최초의 인간을 보유하게 됐다.

  • 한글 기사 보기
  • Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
    with the Korea JoongAng Daily
    help-image Social comment?
    lock icon

    To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

    Standards Board Policy (0/250자)

    What’s Popular Now