Oh’s next challenge

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Oh’s next challenge

On April 20, Korean mountaineer Oh Eun-sun reached the top of the 8,091 meter-high Annapurna. With her astonishing achievement, she became the first woman to scale all 14 eight-thousanders, joining an elite group of 20 climbers worldwide.

We would like to congratulate her on her remarkable achievement.

It is an almost impossible feat for the average person to imagine, yet Oh has imprinted the indomitable spirit of Korean women on the whole world.

Just 13 years after reaching the top of an 8,000-meter Himalayan mountain for the first time in 1997, she has conquered all of the major mountains of the world. She climbed four of those peaks in just 100 days last year.

The last peak she chose to conquer was Annapurna, a notoriously difficult mountain to summit. Infamous for its rugged terrain and treacherous weather, Annapurna has killed several Korean mountaineers in the past.

Um Hong-gil, who holds the world record for summiting the most mountains in the Himalayas, 16, could only get to the top of Annapurna after four attempts. Ji heon-ok, another female climber, died during her first attempt.

Annapurna’s formidable conditions permit only a chosen few to climb to the top. Oh battled gusts of thunder, lightning and hail, but nothing could not dampen her steadfast will.

Her success was possible due to her considerable skills as a climber and her strong desire to succeed. It was also supported by the nation’s solid mountain-climbing infrastructure.

We are proud of the four Koreans who have conquered all 14 Himalayan summits, including Oh and Um (2000), Park Young-seok (2001) and Han Wang-yong (2003).

The painstaking experiences of such senior professional climbers risking their lives and Oh’s friendly rivalry with fellow female climber Ko Mi-young, who is still buried deep in the Himalayan snow, have made her achievement possible.

Oh has no more literal peaks to climb. But a much more difficult mountain awaits her now: herself.

Sir Edmund Hillary, the first human to reach earth’s highest point, Everest, said, “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”

A symbol of thrifty existence, Hillary devoted much of his life to helping the Sherpa people of Nepal through the Himalayan Trust he founded, building 13 hospitals and more than 30 schools in their communities. Descending the roof of the world, he earned respect by lowering himself for the sake of humanity.

We wonder to what great heights Oh will ascend next.
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