Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A truly amazing race

[above: An embarrassed Oh Eunsun realizes she left the "Tokto is our land!" banner back at camp.]

South Korean climber Oh Eunsun is racing against time and a Spanish woman for bragging rights of being the first female to have climbed the fourteen peaks over 8000 meters.

From The Times:
A Spaniard and a South Korean are neck and neck in a race to become the first woman to climb the world’s 14 peaks over 8,000m (26,247ft).

Edurne Pasaban of Spain reached the 8,091m summit of Nepal’s Mount Annapurna, one of the deadliest mountains in the Himalayas, on Saturday, leaving her with one peak to climb.

Ms Pasaban, 36, is scrambling to get back down and across the Chinese border into Tibet to begin her ascent of Shisha Pangma — the smallest of the 14 at 8,027m — early next month.

Meanwhile, Oh Eun Sun of South Korea is acclimatising at Base Camp Two on Annapurna — the last of her 14 peaks — and is expected to make a push for the summit next Sunday.

Although Ms Oh, 44, appears to have the advantage, the race hangs in the balance as Annapurna is more difficult: it has been scaled by about 130 people but has claimed the lives of at least 53. Ms Oh was beaten by fog and blizzards on the mountain last year.

Either woman could be foiled by avalanches, equipment failure or health problems, especially in the “death zone” above 8,000m, where oxygen levels are a third of those at sea level.
I think this is exciting, though one wonders why, considering how long these peaks and these women have been around, it is coming down to the wire like this. I just hope neither one of them does something foolish in order to be first.

UPDATE:
Another blog post, about doubts about her record.

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