Mountaineer Oh Eun-sun Meets Arbiter of Himalaya Ascents

Oh Eun-sun has been congratulated by the octogenarian woman who is considered the unofficial arbiter of Himalayan mountaineering feats for becoming the first woman to climb 14 peaks over 8,000 m.

Elizabeth Hawley met Oh on Monday afternoon in the Nepali capital of Kathmandu to hear the climber's account of her ascent of Annapurna. In the interview, Oh denied her rival Edurne Pasaban's claim that Oh failed to reach the summit of Kangchenjunga.

After listening to the explanation, Hawley asked Oh if she completed ascent to 14 peaks. When Oh answered yes, Hawley reportedly said, "Congratulations." However, Hawley entered Oh's Kangchenjunga ascent as "disputed."

Hawley "said she changed the status to 'disputed' to keep record of the fact that the Spanish team had raised questions about it," Oh said. Hawley reportedly said the Kangchenjunga entry will be switched back to "successful" the moment the Spanish team withdraws its allegations, but there is no reason to do it now.

Hawley settled in Nepal in 1960 and has met every team allowed by the Nepal Tourism Board to climb the Himalayas and checked who climbed where and when by which route. Based on these interviews, she created an expansive Himalaya Database which she regularly updates.

In a telephone interview with the Chosun Ilbo last Friday, Hawley said she is not a judge but only an archivist. 

englishnews@chosun.com / May 04, 2010 11:40 KST