S Korean on her way to reach Annapurna summit


KATHMANDU: A South Korean was making her way to the top of Annapurna in Nepal on Tuesday in the final hurdle of a fiercely contested race against a Spanish rival to become the first woman to scale all 14 of the Himalayas' highest peaks.

Oh Eun-sun, 44, is on a mission to conquer all 14 Himalayan peaks over 8,000 meters, or 26,247 feet, above sea level. She was on track to reach the 26,545-foot (8,091-meter) peak of Annapurna — her final challenge — around 0600 GMT, Park Eun-joo, an official from outerwear maker Blackyak, said in Seoul.

Oh is being chased by Edurne Pasaban of Spain, who is also seeking to become the first woman to scale all 14 peaks. The 36-year-old has only the 26,330-foot-high (8,027-meter-high) Mount Shisha Pangma left to scale. Pasaban has questioned whether her South Korean rival climbed to the top of Mount Kanchenjunga, the world's third-highest, last May. Blackyak's Park dismissed the accusation as groundless.

Oh missed the chance to reach the peak of Annapurna last year because of bad weather. Snow and wind stopped her from making the final ascent over the weekend. She has described mountain climbing as "a sort of addiction" and her destiny.

"As long as I set my goal to become the world's first woman to conquer the world's 14 highest peaks, I will go to all lengths to achieve it," she said in an interview with The Korea Times in Seoul in February. Before embarking on the expedition, she tried to refrain from drinking alcohol, believing that there is a spiritual entity determining whether or not to allow a climber to reach the summit, she told the newspaper. As she departed for Nepal, she assured her fans was in strong physical condition.

"I'm feeling good, and I will do my hardest to scale the mountain with faith," Park quoted Oh as saying before her departure. Meanwhile, two South Korean climbers were missing after attempting to scale Manaslu, the eighth-highest mountain in the world. There was no progress in the search for the climbers, who disappeared Sunday, Seoul's Foreign Ministry said.

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