A Korean climber may this weekend become the first woman to scale the world’s 14 highest peaks. It’s one of the most formidable feats in mountaineering – but doubts have been creeping in about her right to claim the glory.
A year ago three European women were leading the race to conquer all 14 mountains in the world above 8,000m high – Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner of Austria, Nives Meroi of Italy and Edurne Pasaban of Spain.
But over four months in 2009 two rival South Korean climbers scaled an astonishing four peaks each, catapulting one of them, Oh Eun-Sun, to the top of the league table.
She is now on the slopes of her final mountain of the 14, Annapurna, with a Korean TV crew, which is planning a two-hour live broadcast on Sunday, when it estimates she will reach the summit.
Nothing can be taken for granted. But if she succeeds it will be a bitter blow to Edurne Pasaban, her nearest rival in the race, who ascended Annapurna herself on Saturday and is about to leave for Tibet to tackle the last peak on her list, Shisha Pangma.