Korean Mountaineer Missing on Annapurna

Park Young-seok Park Young-seok

The prominent Korean mountaineer Park Young-seok has gone missing while climbing Annapurna, one of the highest peaks in the Himalayas. The Korean Alpine Federation said on Thursday, "We have been searching for Park since we lost contact with him on Tuesday afternoon but haven't been able to locate him."

While climbing at 6,200 m on the southern side of Annapurna on Tuesday, Park and two other members of the team notified the base camp by satellite phone that they were going down due to heavy snow and rock fall. That was the last contact with them.

The KAF sent a rescue team of four local sherpas on Thursday, who spent six hours looking for Park and his fellow climbers, but they were unable to find them.

The southern flank of the 8,091 m Annapurna is one of the most difficult to conquer in the Himalayas, along with the southwestern flank of the 8,848 m Everest and the southern flank of the 8,516 m Lhotse. The way to the peak is mostly steep, rugged rocks. Only about 200 people have succeeded in reaching the peak of Annapurna, and 60 have either died or gone missing.

Ji Hyun-ok, the first Korean woman to scale Everest, finally stepped on the top of Annapurna in 1999 with Um Hong-gil after four failed attempts, but went missing on her way down.

Park set out on a journey to find a new route in the southern flank of Annapurna on Monday. Two years ago, he pioneered a new climbing route on the southwestern flank of Everest and named it the "Korean Route." The KAF will send another local rescue team as soon as the sun rises on Friday, and dispatch a team of Korean experts to the Himalayas.

Kim Jae-bong of the KAF said, "We assume that Park and his colleagues met an avalanche on their way back to base camp. A search of the place where they seem to have lost contact with us found their rope under 4 m of snow."

englishnews@chosun.com / Oct. 21, 2011 12:58 KST