September 02, 2010 09:22
A Norwegian climber has weighed in to support Korean mountaineer Oh Eun-sun's claim that she reached the summit of Kangchenjunga in the Himalayas last year.
Lingering questions over Oh's ascent of the 8,586-m peak have officially thrown her record as the first woman to climb all 14 of the world's 8,000-m mountains in doubt. A photo that Oh claims was taken on the summit does not match those taken by other climbers at the top, while a red flag she had been carrying was found below the summit.
But Norway's Jon Gangdal, who climbed Kangchenjunga on May 18 last year, 12 days after Oh, said on Wednesday that it is highly likely that she reached the top.
In an e-mail interview with Korean media, Gangdal said, "Because the weather was extremely bad, Oh might not have been able to leave a mark at the top or take a picture."
As to Oh's photo used to back her claim, Gangdal said, "It wasn't exactly on the top, but somewhere below." Oh has said that the picture was taken about five to six meters below the summit.
The Norwegian climber said he did not know why Oh's red flag was found where it was. Gangdal discovered the flag weighted down by four stones some 40-50 meters below the summit, which led to suspicions that Oh might have mistaken that spot as the top.
"We also wondered why the flag was there. But we couldn't afford to take a picture of that because we were focusing on climbing up," said Gangdal. Oh asserts that she lost the flag somewhere and does not know why it was found below the peak.
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