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Female Mountain Climber Seeking to Make History

Posted September. 14, 2009 09:08,   


Mountain climber Oh Eun-sun went on her first expedition in 1993. She said she misses the mountains she has climbed despite almost dying hundreds of times.

When asked to say something about the Himalayas, Oh, 43, simply said, "Thank you. I love you.”

Oh said that if she could say just one thing to a long-time lover, she would say that. She added, “I thank you for embracing me, and I love you as I like you so much.”

As a single woman, she has often heard the joke, “You`re married to mountains.” She denied this, but told The Dong-A Ilbo in a short yet enthusiastic comment, "I feel like I`m in love with mountains.”

Oh will depart for Nepal to climb Annapurna in the Himalayas today in an expedition sponsored by Black Yak, a maker of camping gear. She is striving to become the world’s first woman to have scaled all of the world`s 14 mountains rising 8,000 meters or higher.

When she climbed the 13th peak, Gasherbrum (8,068 meters), last month, she received massive public attention. She received a flurry of praise from not only fellow alpinists and media but also from the general public. Many Koreans now recognize her on the streets since she often uses public transportation such as the subway.

Holding the title of the world’s first woman to conquer the 14 Himalayan peaks did not come easy over the past few years. Oh did her best to attain her goal, especially last year and this year, conquering four peaks each year. She also had to overcome fears and envy from people around her.

“I try not to think of becoming the first woman in the world before going to the top,” she said. “I leave simply thinking that I’m going to where I really want to go, and a place I miss.”

Until recently, she said she thought about what she would say atop Annapurna, but thinking itself was stressful. “I’ll only realize what I feel, what’ll come to mind, and what I’ll say only when I conquer the mountain,” she said.

Oh’s first mountain climbing experience was scaling Insu Peak on Mount Bukhan in Seoul as a college sophomore and member of an alpine club. She never expected to draw such massive attention even when she became the first Asian woman to climb Mount Everest (8,848 meters) by herself in 2004, let alone in college. Nor did she begin her climbing career aiming at such a goal.

She will set up her base camp on Annapurna around Sept. 21, before opening camps No. 1, 2, and 3 to check her routes. She will likely begin her ascent Oct. 10-25.

The Dong-A Ilbo will follow Oh to Nepal on her expedition and report details at the scene.

She said her conquest of Annapurna will not be the end of her love for the mountain, but will start a fluttering "proposal" of love.