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Alpinist Honors Fallen Competitors on Himalayan Peak

Posted September. 24, 2009 08:33,   


The sun began rising. An “iron woman” put the photo of the late alpinist Koh Mi-young on the altar and remained silent.

After trying not to see the photo, she finally raised her head to see the smiling woman in the picture. She said hello to the soul of Koh, who died two months ago while descending the Himalayan peak of Nanga Parbat (8,126 meters).

“How’ve you been, Mi-young? I dreamed of climbing Annapurna along with you, but I’m here alone. I hope your soul climbs Annapurna with me.”

A llama ceremony, a traditional ritual to pray for climber safety, was held at the Annapurna base camp at 7 a.m. yesterday. Oh Eun-sun, leader of the expeditionary team, honored the memory of Koh and prayed for a successful climb.

Koh was killed while descending Nanga Parbat at a time when she and Oh competed to become the world’s first woman to climb all 14 Himalayan peaks.

Oh also remembered the late Ji Hyeon-ok, the first Korean woman to scale Mount Everest (8,848 meters) in 1993. A monument honoring Ji, who went missing after climbing Annapurna in 1999, is located on Memorial Hill, 20 minutes away from the base camp.

The monument has an inscription reading, “Your souls, which have become stars of sky above Annapurna, are kept in my heart.” In front of the monument, Oh burst into tears.