S Korean first woman to scale world's highest peaks

Climber sets 14-summit record with Annapurna ascent

S Korean first woman to scale world's highest peaks

South Korean mountaineer Oh Eun-sun. Reuters

Oh Eun-Sun, 44, was shown planting a South Korean flag in the snow on the summit of the 8,091-metre mountain. She reached it without oxygen at 0916 GMT. “Mansae! (Hurrah!)” Oh shouted, waving and bowing towards an accompanying KBS cameraman. “I am happy and thank you,” she said, weeping tears of joy.

Braving jet speed winds and treacherous ice-walls, the climber was shown crawling on all fours, the final stretch of her momentous Odyssey, as she clambered onto the summit.
Oh is the only woman to scale the world’s 14 mountains exceeding 8,000 metres, all located in Asia’s Himalaya and Karakoram ranges. She claimed the feat almost 13 years after climbing the 8,035-metre Gasherbrum II in July 1997.

Kanchenjunga hurdle
But Oh’s place in mountaineering history is far from certain.Last week her 2009 ascent of Mount Kanchenjunga on the Nepal-Tibet border was thrown into doubt when a leading authority on Himalayan mountaineering said fellow climbers had expressed scepticism.
Elizabeth Hawley said Oh’s climb would be considered “disputed” because fellow mountaineers, including her chief rival for the record Edurne Pasaban, had questioned whether she made it to the top.

Pasaban, 36, conquered Annapurna earlier this month, becoming the first Spanish woman to do so and leaving her with just one more mountain to scale.Just 18 people have made it to the top of the 14 eight-thousanders since Italian climber Reinhold Messner became the first person to do so in 1986.

Oh’s second rival was Austrian Gerlinda Kaltebrunner, who has scaled all the major peaks, except Mt Everest and K2.“I don’t know why no female climber had managed the feat so far,” Oh said, adding “this proves women are as good as men, if not better.”

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