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Korean Expedition Team Conquers “Invincible” Himalayan Peak

Korean Expedition Team Conquers “Invincible” Himalayan Peak

Posted July. 16, 2005 03:05,   


The Rupal Wall on Nanga Parbat (8,125m) in the Himalayas, which has been considered among alpinists worldwide as “invincible,” eventually cleared the way for a Korean expedition for the first time in 35 years.

The “Korean Expedition to the Rupal Wall, Nanga Parbat,” led by Captain Lee Sung-won (44), reported that they started from their fourth camp (7,600m) at 2:00 a.m. on July 14 (Korean time), and that after fighting violent winds and climbing up the rock wall for 25 hours, they finally reached the peak of the Rupal Wall at 3:00 a.m. on July 15.

The Rupal Wall is a massive rock wall with the longest length, whose vertical drop stands at 4,500 meters. It has a slope of nearly 90 degrees, so snow hardly piles up on it. The name of the mountain, Nanga Parbat, means “naked mountain” in the local language.

Reinhold Messner, an internationally-renowned German alpinist who was the first to summit Everest (8,850m) without the use of bottled oxygen, and his brother Gunter, conquered the Rupal Wall in 1970. Since then, however, no other team has succeeded. So far, 12 international expeditions challenged it, but all of them failed. Messner also lost his brother on his way climbing down the Wall.

Along with the Southwest Wall of Everest and the Southern Wall in Lhotse (8,516m), the Rupal Wall is one of the courses best representing Mumerism, which is a climbing spirit that puts more weight on how one has climbed than the results of one’s climbing.

The expedition had to wait more than three months to conquer the Rupal Wall. At the time of their departure from Korea on April 12, they planned to climb up the mountain sometime between late May and early June, but the bad weather slowed them down.

Building a base camp (3,700m) on April 20, the expedition gradually worked on its first camp (5,150m) and a second camp (6,000m). They completed their fourth camp on June 21, and finally made their first attempt on June 26. They had to step back, however, as one of their members, Kim Mi-gwon, fractured his right leg when he was injured by fallen stones.

The expedition waited for the weather to get better and made their second attempt on July 14, successfully reaching the summit of the Wall.

Sung-Kyu Kim kimsk@donga.com