Korean defends climbing claim after doubts raised

Mon May 3, 2010 10:39am EDT
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By Gopal Sharma

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - South Korean climber Oh Eun-sun Monday defended her claim to be the first woman to scale all 14 of the world's peaks over 8,000 meters after doubts were raised over one of her climbs last year.

Oh, 44, reached the summit of Annapurna, the world's 10th-highest peak at 8,091 meter (26,545 feet), on April 27, the last of her 14 ascents.

Climbing historian Elizabeth Hawley has said Oh's 2009 ascent of Mount Kanchenjunga, the world's third-tallest peak, was in dispute because a picture of her was "clearly" not at the mountain's summit because her feet were on rock, not snow.

Oh said Korea's KBS Television, which had its crew at the Kanchenjunga base camp during her climb, had proof of her ascent.

"They still have the summit pictures and video records with them," Oh told reporters in Kathmandu.

Oh said she was proud of climbing Annapurna, which is considered one of the world's most treacherous mountains, without any accidents or injuries. A Spanish climber died on the slopes of Annapurna after Oh descended from the summit last week.

Twenty men have climbed all 14 peaks above 8,000 meters, with Italy's Reinhold Messner the first.

Oh narrowly beat Spain's Edurne Pasaban to the women's record. Pasaban climbed Annapurna in April and is in Tibet preparing for her 14th and final climb, on Mount Shisha Pangma.

Nepal has eight of the world's 14 highest mountains, including Mount Everest.

(Editing by C.J. Kuncheria and Paul Tait)

<p>South Korean mountaineer Oh Eun-Sun speaks during a news conference in Kathmandu May 3, 2010. REUTERS/Shruti Shrestha</p>