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Pioneering Alpinist Recognizes Oh’s Feat

Posted May. 11, 2010 07:10,   


Oh Eun-sun began mountain hiking in 1986 as a sophomore at the University of Suwon. After joining a hiking club as freshman, she began to appreciate the joy of climbing when she reached the summit of Mount Bukhan the following year.

Just as she started to appreciate the sport, an Italian man became the first in the world to conquer the 14 tallest peaks of the Himalayas. His name was Reinhold Messner.

Twenty-four years after accomplishing his feat, Messner, 66, met Oh, 44, who made history herself as the world’s first woman to climb the 14 peaks. She called him her "dream."

The encounter between the two great climbers drew attention from hikers worldwide. Messner did not attend the ceremony marking Oh’s feat in Katmandu, Nepal, Thursday, but saw her Saturday and invited her to an environment symposium he hosted Sunday.

“Oh became famous by conquering all eight peaks rising above 8,000 meters over 15 months,” Messner said. He praised her, saying she is a mountain climber “greater than men.”

Messner asked Oh about her disputed conquest last year of Kanchenjunga (8,586 meters). Upon hearing her response, he recognized her as having climbed the mountain, saying “Oh properly conquered the mountain.”

“From my perspective, everything fit nicely. She might not have stood at the exact peak of the mountain, but if there was a snowstorm, pinpointing the peak would’ve been difficult for her. Hence, she might not have reached the peak by several meters, but she still conquered it nevertheless.”

Oh also admitted she might not have stood on the exact peak of Kanchenjunga.

Messner also said that even if a climber fails to step on the exact peak due to bad weather, the global mountain climbing community customarily recognizes that as reaching the peak. This effectively means he recognizes Oh as having conquered the 14 Himalayan peaks.