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Female Climber Delays Attempt at Historic Ascent

Posted October. 20, 2009 09:16,   


Mountaineer Oh Eun-sun burst into tears before a llama’s altar yesterday after delaying her plan to scale the Himalayan peak of Annapurna due to bad weather. She seeks to become the first woman to conquer the world’s 14 highest peaks.

After giving thanks for her safe descent and pledging to return next year, she expressed frustration but said she has no regrets.

Around 7:30 a.m. yesterday, she looked at the summit from her base camp at 5,100 meters above sea level, only to find that a snowstorm showed no signs of abating.

“Let’s go back,” she told her team.

Annapurna, the 10th highest summit in the world at 8,091 meters, has denied the “woman of steel” access for 16 years. She bowed to nature again, but promised to take another shot.

Starting from the base camp at an altitude of 4,190 meters, Oh and her team reached the advance base camp at 5,100 meters in just four hours. Strong winds kept them from going any further, however.

According to weather forecasts, sustained winds around the top were estimated to exceed 25 meters per second, with the peak reaching up to 43 meters per second.

Oh waited for the weather to clear for two days at the advance base camp, but Annapurna did not allow her to climb further. Among the 14 Himalayan peaks of 8,000 meters, Annapurna has allowed the least number of people to conquer the top.

Just 153 people had reached the peak as of June last year.

Climbers say it is “up to heaven” to conquer Annapurna in fall. Since 1990, just two of 17 teams have reached the peak’s north face.

The previous four Korean teams that tried before Oh all failed. With her decision to turn back yesterday, Oh had her streak of summit conquests end at eight.

She can still become the first woman to conquer all 14 Himalayan peaks, as her closest rivals Edurne Pasaban of Spain and Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner of Austria have two more peaks to conquer for the record.