Posted June. 09, 2005 06:38,
Im honored to have added a stroke to the history of exploration begun by your conquest of Mt. Everest with my Grand Slam expedition, said Park Young-seok.
My junior, youve achieved an unbelievable feat. I can only admire your strong spirit of challenge, replied Sir Edmund Hillary.
The Godfather of Alpinists and the new star of the mountain climbing world exchanged a heartfelt embrace.
On May 1, Park Young-seok (42, GoldWin Korea, Dongguk University Alpine Club OB) became the first person in history to successfully complete the alpine Grand Slam by ascending the 14 highest 8000m Himalayan Peaks, the seven summits of each continent, and the three poles. Fresh from his grueling achievement, Park recently visited the home of Sir Edmund Hillary (86) in Auckland, New Zealand.
His meeting with Sir Hillary, who climbed Mt. Everest (the earths highest peak at 8850m above sea level) for the first time in the world in 1953, is the second in a year and three months since he visited the revered alpinist in February 2004 on his way back from a successful expedition to the South Pole.
To Parks declaration, I kept my promise of achieving the alpine Grand Slam, Sir Hillary replied, Youve done a truly great thing, and joyfully grasped the younger mans hand.
True to their reputations as alpinists, the topic of conversation quickly moved from well-wishing to expeditions. Park brought out an alpine Grand Slam commemorative bandanna illustrated with the 14 Himalayan Peaks, the North and South Poles, and other places, which he brought as a gift, and Sir Hillary poured out one question after another. He asked, How many years did it take you to climb the 14 peaks? The North Pole and the South Pole are vastly different; what methods did you use to reach them?
When Park told him that he was 42 years old, Sir Hillary fell into silent recollection. Its still a young age. Theres so much to do It was terribly difficult climbing Mt. Everest 50 years ago, but I didnt lack for spirit and ambition.
Sir Hillarys curiosity knew no bounds. He asked, So, what are you going to attempt next? To Parks reply that he was planning to cross the Everest sometime next year, the senior alpinist joked, I want to go too. What do you think of carrying me on your back?
After journeying to Everest last year for the 50th anniversary of his expedition, Sir Hillarys health took a turn for the worse. But throughout the nearly hour-long conversation, he happily entertained his junior without a sign of tiredness.
The two alpine heroes bid each other a fond farewell, crying Namaste with their palms pressed together as they often do in the Himalayas.