Korean Woman Mountaineer Reaches South Pole Solo

  • By Jung Byung-sun

    January 18, 2023 12:57

    Mountaineer Kim Young-mi reached the South Pole single-handed on Monday, 50 days after setting off from the Hercules Inlet.
    Kim became the first Asian woman and the eleventh female climber in the world to conquer 90 degrees South alone without having any food and fuel flown in during the expedition. In total 17 women have reached the South Pole alone, either assisted or unassisted.
    The distance from the inlet in western Antarctica to the pole is 1,130 km as the crow flies, but Kim traveled around 1,186.5 km during the 50 days 11 hours 37 minutes it took her, overcoming temperatures of -30 degrees Celsius with biting winds. She skied and walked for around 11 hours a day dragging a sled loaded with equipment and supplies that weighed over 110 kg. 
    Mountaineer Kim Young-mi poses at the South Pole on Monday, in this picture from her Instagram account.
    "Whiteout was the biggest obstacle," she said. "It was really difficult to find the right direction because I could rarely see up ahead due to the strong reflection."
    Kim started climbing the Himalayas in 2003 and conquered Mt. Everest, the world's highest peak, in 2008. In 2008 she became the youngest Korean to climb the highest peaks on all seven continents at the age of 28. In the winter of 2017, she walked across 723 m-long frozen Lake Baikal alone.
    She began her latest expedition in memory of fellow mountaineer Park Young-seok, who died while climbing the Annapurna in the Himalayas in 2011. 
    Park first succeeded in an unassisted expedition to the South Pole in 2004, following Heo Young-ho in 1994 and 1997. But they achieved the feat with three other members, while Kim did it by herself.
    "Park told me about his journey to the South Pole, which motivated me a lot," she recalls.
    After arriving at the South Pole, Kim wrote on Instagram, "I'm going back with all my 10 fingers and 10 toes without any injury. I don't know how I made it through the last 50 days with such a heavy sled. It all seems like a dream."
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