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Record Setting Alpinist Oh Returns Home

Posted May. 12, 2010 13:41,   


To describe a 44-year-old woman as having matured seems rather awkward. Champion alpinist Oh Eun-sun, however, has returned home after “having grown and matured,” in her own words.

Becoming the world’s first woman to conquer the 14 tallest peaks of the Himalayas, Oh said Tuesday that she finds her motherland warm and welcoming. The “woman of iron” was all smiles in an interview at Incheon International Airport, describing how she feels about her historic feat and the dispute over her accomplishment.

“I met Elizabeth Hawley Monday when I left Kathmandu (Nepal),” Oh said. Hawley is a record keeper who has kept the climbing records of hikers who scale the Himalayas over the past 48 years.

After interviewing Oh Monday last week, Hawley said, “On Oh’s climbing of Kanchenjunga, I have no plan to clear the label of ‘under controversy’ unless Edurne Pasaban withdraws the suspicion she’s raised.”

Hawley asked Oh, “You reportedly reached the peak immediately after disappearing at a location of 8,450 meters. Is this true?” showing a picture of Kanchenjunga believed to have been presented by Pasaban.

Oh replied that it took three and half hours to reach the peak from there.

Finally, Hawley asked Oh, “In the past, expedition teams who climbed Kanchenjunga for the first time did not reach the peak by 10 meters due to promises with natives. Did you do the same?”

Oh answered, “I did not but did not step on the peak due to bad weather.”

The Korean said, “What Hawley effectively meant was that you conquered the peak.”

Hawley will interview Pasaban when the Spaniard descends from Shisha Pangma (8,027 meters) on the final leg of her quest to scale the 14 peaks.

On Pasaban, Oh said, “I regret that she has raised the suspicion, but I wouldn’t be what I am now if it were not for Pasaban and Austrian climber Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner (who conquered more than 12 Himalayan peaks above 8,000 meters).”

When the Germany weekly Der Spiegel asked Oh, “Will you join if the three female climbers assemble,” she said, “I’d be glad to.”

On criticism of her by European media, Oh said, “It was apparently affected by Pasaban and Kaltenbrunner. But more than anything, I might not have made adequate efforts to introduce my climbing records in Europe,” adding, “I`ll do more to introduce Oh Eun-sun more accurately from now on.”

Her response was quite different from her previous stance of “No matter what others say, I’ll just care about my records.”