A South Korean mountaineer made history in the Himalayas on Tuesday by becoming the first woman to scale the world’s 14 highest mountains, beating a Spanish rival for the record. Oh Eun-sun, 44, crawled on all fours for the final, steep stretch to the peak of Annapurna, her feat broadcast live in South Korea by KBS television.
At the top, she pulled out a South Korean flag, waved, and then wept before throwing up her arms and shouting: “Victory!” Annapurna, at 26,545 feet above sea level, was the last of the 14 Himalayan peaks above the 8,000-meter level she had wanted to conquer.
She narrowly beat Edurne Pasaban of Spain to the 14th peak. Pasaban also was seeking to become the first woman to scale all 14 peaks, and had only the 26,330-foot-high Mount Shisha Pangma left on her list.
Oh also tried to reach the peak of Annapurna last year but turned away just hundreds of meters from the summit because of bad weather. Snow and wind also stopped her from making the trek last weekend. “I gave it up because of a sudden ominous feeling that something bad would happen to either me or my peers including the sherpas on my way back to base camp,” she told The Korea Times newspaper last month.
She said this trip would be different, and said she would be carrying a photograph of Ko Mi-young, a lifelong rival who fell to her death last year while descending from Nanga Parbat, the world’s ninth-highest peak in the Himalayas. On Tuesday, it took Oh 13 hours to climb Annapurna. KBS footage showed her breathing heavily after each step. Cheers broke out as she reached the summit.(LATimes/NPR/IM)