Marveling at Korean Climber’s Feats
Oh Hee-jun (36, The North Face) climbed four 8,000m-high summits in a row, starting with Mt. Everest (8,850m), the highest mountain in the world. Even Park Young-seok (43, director of Goldwin Korea), the first one to succeed in the mountaineering challenge known as the “Grand Slam” (climbing the 14 peaks of the Himalayas, the seven summits on each continent and the three most famous summits, including Mt. Everest) was speechless at Oh’s feat.
Oh used to deliver 47kg heavy parcels at the Halla mountain shelter to make money for his training lessons-
This was his story. When just arriving home after climbing Mt. Manaslu (8,163m) on October 30, Oh said to Park, “I feel dizzy and I have a stomachache. I’d better stop by the doctor.” Everyone marveled at hearing Oh, who was dubbed “the most powerful man” among the mountaineers, asking to see a doctor.
The results were more serious than anyone imagined. The doctor called Park and said, “None of the parts of his body are sound, including his stomach, duodenum, and bowels. It’s just surprising how he managed to climb the mountains under this severe condition.” He urged Park to hospitalize Oh immediately. This resulted from his insufficient nutrition during his eight-month climb of the Himalayan Mountains which started this past March. However, as if Oh wanted to deride the doctor’s diagnosis, it only took one week for Oh to recover.
He entered the hiking world back in 1989 by joining the hiking club at Cheju National University. It took about 10 years for him to climb Mt. Cho Oyu (8,201m) in Himalayas as the youngest member of the Cheju mountaineering league expedition.
For about 10 years, he only focused on training while conquering every mountain in the country, from Mt. Halla to Mt. Jiri. He made ends meet by doing tough physical labor jobs. He earned 70,000 won a day, by delivering six beverage boxes weighing 47 kg on his back through the hiking paths up to high mountain shelters (1,800m). “Although I took the job to make money, that experience helped me build strength as well.”
After becoming a member of the “Park Young Seok association” in 2000, Oh started to draw attention as a new mountaineer after challenging four summits in a row from Broad Peak (8,047m) to K2 (8,611m) in 2001. He set a record of conquering the three best-known summits including Mt. Everest when he succeeded in standing atop the Antarctic and Arctic poles. After climbing Mount Everest as the leader of his expedition, he went on to the base camp of Mt. Gasherbrum without a break, climbed both peaks of Gasherbrum 1 (8,068m) and Gasherbrum 2 (8,035m) in succession this May, and finally conquered the peak of Mt. Manaslu (8,163m) on October 20. He climbed ten summits in total, five with Park Young-seok and the rest with his own expedition team.
What might be his goal? “Of course, my goal is to continue climbing the mountains. While mountaineering by myself, it dawned on me that I need to develop my own specialties. I have to mull over what my strength could be.” Oh gave an irrelevant answer with a big smile.
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