Go to contents

Mountaineers’ Friendship Lasts Beyond Death

Posted May. 30, 2005 03:33,   


“It would have been great if we found him alive. We risked our lives together when we climbed. But we should at least bring back the body of our beloved fellow mountaineer so that he can rest in peace in his native land.”

The world renowned mountaineer and executive of footwear maker Trekstar, 45-year-old Um Hong-gil, successfully led his 2005 Korea Chomorangma (Tibetan name for Mount Everest) Human Fellowship expedition on Sunday to recover the body of Park Moo-taek, who died at the age of 35 on Mt. Everest last year.

Park was the leader of Keimyung University’s Everest Mountaineering Team. He and fellow mountaineer Jang Min successfully climbed Mt. Everest. Park died on their way down, however, nearly 8,750 meters above sea level. Their teammate Paek Jun-ho climbed up to rescue Park and Jang, but he and Jang also lost their lives on their way down at about 8,450 meters above sea level.

Um, having climbed the high mountains of the Himalayas several times with Park, forged a Human Fellowship climbing team with 10 mountaineers to recover the body of their friend. The team left for the mountain on March 14.

In an interview with the team via satellite phone, this paper learned that the team left Camp Three (8,300 meters above sea level) at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday and discovered Park’s body at 8,750 meters above sea level eight hours into their search. It took them more than three hours to recover the body, however, because so much ice surrounded the body.

The team informed that they could not climb down more than 100 meters an hour due to harsh weather conditions.

The Fellowship has not started the search for the bodies of Jang and Paek yet because it does not know exactly where they are. The team made a stone grave for Park due to severe weather condition after several times of trial and failure and for the safety of the Fellowship members and the sherpas.

Chang Jeon jeon@donga.com