Did South Korea's Oh Eun-sun really climb 14 peaks?

South Korea’s Oh Eun-sun claims she is the first woman to scale the world’s 14 highest peaks, after clambering on hands and knees to the top of Mount Annapurna in Nepal. But some in the mountain-climbing community question her claim. A by-the-numbers view of her feats.

South Korean female climber Oh Eun-sun, foreground, moves towards a second camp on Mount Annapurna in Nepal, April 18.

By planting her country’s flag at the summit of Mount Annapurna in Nepal on Tuesday, South Korea’s Oh Eun-Sun has made her mark as the first woman to climb the world’s 14 highest mountains, all of them more than 8,000 meters from sea level.

Or has she?

Her accomplishment is being disputed. Rival Edurne Pasaban of Spain, who has scaled 13 of the top peaks, claims that Ms. Oh stopped short of the summit of Mount Kanchenjunga on the Nepal-Tibet border last year.

Ms. Pasaban cites Oh’s sherpas as well as Oh’s mountaintop photograph that shows her standing on rock, whereas Ms. Pasaban’s mountaintop photo is filled with snow. The de facto arbiter of the matter, climbing historian Elizabeth Hawley, said the matter requires investigation.

Meanwhile, here’s a by-the-numbers look at Oh’s uncontested accomplishments.

The last peak

Height of Mount Annapurna : 8,091 meters (26,545 feet)

Annapurna’s ranking in world’s highest mountains: 10

Height of world's highest peak, Mt. Everest: 8,848 meters

Temperature at the summit when Oh arrived: - 20 degrees Fahrenheit

Consecutive hours Oh climbed before reaching the summit: 13

Arms and legs on which she reached the summit: 4

Times she had previously tried but failed to reach it: 1

People climbing with her: 9

Days spent on Annapurna so far: 24

Oh’s height: 5’ 1”

Oh’s weight: 110 pounds

Oh’s age: 44 years

A long haul

Continents on which Oh has scaled mountains: 7

Years it took Oh to climb all 14 highest peaks, or "8000ers": 12 years, 9 months

Peaks she reached last year: 4

Women besides Oh and Pasaban who have scaled 13 of the 14 highest mountains: 0

Years since the first person, Reinhold Messner of Italy, climbed all 14 peaks: 24

Years he took to do it: 16 years, 4 months

Shortest time taken to climb all 14 peaks, by Jerzy Kukuczka of Poland: 7 years, 11 months

A South Korean pastime

Number of people, including Oh, who have climbed all 14: 21 (a list is available here)

Of those, the number from South Korea: 4

Other countries with 4 citizens on the list: 0

Percentage of South Korea that is mountainous: 70

Percentage of major South Korean newspapers that ran a front-page photo on Wednesday of Oh planting the national flag at the Annapurna summit: 100

Sources: Agence France Presse, Arirang News, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Reuters,, Yonhap news agency.


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