Oh Eun-sun: South Korea's top mountain climber, but hardly the only one
Four of 21 people who scaled the world's 14 tallest peaks came from South Korea, where mountain climbing is a pastime. Oh Eun-sun claims to be the first woman to do so.
(Page 2 of 2)
Still, this Hiking Academy’s spring session will have 25 instructors and about 80 students, says Mr. Sang. It plans to hold nine events this year, including a four-week seminar.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Mountain climbers
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Frequent “traffic jams” on trails here testify to the sport’s popularity, as do the trails in other countries that cater to Koreans.
During a 2008 trek in Nepal, Ha Jinyoung was surprised to find that some of the sherpas there had even learned to make kimchi, Korea’s ubiquitous pickled side-dish, to cater to the large number of hikers from this country.
“Koreans are hard core” when it comes to hiking, says Ms. Ha, who owns a design firm.
‘Hard core’ about hiking
In one sign of that resolve, among the 21 people to have climbed the world’s tallest peaks, four are South Korean.
South Korea’s highest mountain, Mount Halla, is 6,400 feet (1,950 meters). That’s miniscule compared to Mount Everest, which rises 29,035 ft (8,848 meters) above sea level, or even compared to more moderate mountains like Washington State’s oft-climbed Mount Rainier at 14,411 feet (4,392 meters).
Going big, of course, has its perils. South Korean Ko Mi-young fell to her death last year while descending Nanga Parbat mountain in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the world’s ninth-tallest peak. Ms. Oh is said to have carried a picture of Ms. Ko during her ascent of Annapurna in Nepal, the world's 10th tallest peak.
Whether Ms. Oh successfully climbed all 14 of the eight-thousanders – so-called because these Himalayan peaks are all over 8,000 meters tall – is disputed by her Spanish rival, Edurne Pasaban. Ms. Pasaban also seeks the record, but must still tackle Tibet's Shisha Pangma – the lowest of the 14 peaks.
When Ms. Oh met with unofficial Himalayan climbing arbiter, the historian Elizabeth Hawley, on Monday, she was questioned about her ascent of the world's third largest peak, Kangchenjunga, which lies on the border of Nepal and India. Ms. Oh confirmed that she had indeed reached the summit.
“Congratulations,” Ms. Hawley reportedly responded, while still entering the climb as “disputed” in her records.
Many of her compatriots are proud nonetheless. “We knew she could do it,” says Noh Hyun-woo, a businessman, standing in Mount Bukhan National Park. “Koreans are an active people. … It’s part of our personality.”
- Did South Korea's Oh Eun-sun really climb 14 peaks?
- Choi Hyun-mi, teen boxing champ, spurs fellow North Korean defectors to keep fighting
- Guiding Himalayan treks, Nepali woman scales mountains of social taboos