A view from Annapurna’s peak
With public curiosity at great heights, the JoongAng Ilbo answers some questions about what really went on near the ceiling of the world.
Q. Did Oh reach the very top of Annapurna?
A. Oh stopped a few meters short of the crest as she planted the Korean flag and waved to the camera. While normally climbers scale the very top of a mountain, the same rules don’t apply when there’s no room to stand.
“It’s dangerous to climb any further. If she slips from that point, it’s a 3,000-meter free fall,” explained Um Hong-gil, who climbed Annapurna in 1999.
“If the place is not stable enough to support one person, it’s not necessary to climb to the top. It looks far on television screen, but the actual distance is merely two to three meters.”
How long was she at the top?
Oh stayed on top of Annapurna for 15 minutes before she began the long descent at 6:30 p.m. (Korean time).
That 15-minute stay was earned with days of labor. Oh departed base camp on April 22 and reached Camp 3 (6,400 meters) the next day, but strong winds forced a retreat to Camp 1 (5,100 meters). She started her climb again on Sunday and reached Camp 4 before she was grounded by bad weather. Oh began her final assault on the summit Tuesday morning.
Oh was seen drinking water. Did she eat anything during her climb?
Thin air at high altitudes kills climbers’ appetites, and Oh didn’t eat any food during her 891-meter trek from Camp 4 (7,200) to the peak. Oh left Camp 4 at 3 a.m. Tuesday (Korean time) and returned to the camp yesterday at 12:45 a.m., which means she went at least 21 hours and 45 minutes without food.
Even after regaining Camp 4, climbers usually replenish their bodies with just a cup of tea.
How many climbers accompanied Oh?
A team of five people reached the peak of Annapurna on Tuesday. Accompanying Oh were Na Kwan-ju; Jung Ha-young, a 44-year-old cameraman for KBS, who broadcast the event live in a television first; and three Sherpas.
Jung, an experienced mountaineer, has filmed seven Himalayan expeditions in the past.
How much did it cost?
Oh’s sponsor, Black Yak, a Korean adventure gear manufacturer, paid for all expenses except the travel costs and the satellite phone expenses of the KBS film crew. The average cost of one of Oh’s four expeditions in 2008 was 30 million won ($26,820), but her first attempt to scale Annapurna in October 2009 cost 500 million won.
By Kim Young-joo, Sohn Min-ho [firstname.lastname@example.org]