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Sung-Taek Hong abandons Lhotse South Face summit bid

KATHMANDU: Renowned South Korean climber Sung-Taek Hong (51) on Saturday formally announced that his bid to attempt to climb the south face of Mt Lhotse was a failure.

Upon his arrival in Kathmandu from Lukla, the National Geographic Explorer said that he made a final summit attempt to climb the world’s fourth highest peak on November 20 but yet failed due to strong winds. “Strong winds and extreme cold forced me to abandon the final attempt in the mountain this season,” he shared. 

With the jet turbulence gusting up to 120km per hour, Hong returned to the base camp on November 21 abandoning his climbing bid this season, Kyu-po Pyun, Media Relations Manager for the expedition, said.

According to him, Hong left the base camp on November 16 with all equipment and logistics he required for the summit. “He stayed over a night inside a broken tent in Camp IV where he also deposited all hisclimbing logistics. The day after, he safely returned to the base camp.”

Since the failure of the first summit attempt on November 2, it has been very windy on Mt Lhotse, he said, adding that Hong, however, struggled hard to wait for a summit window.

Hong said he will evaluate and review the expedition once he returns to South Korea. “I wish I can come back to Mt Lhotse South Face next spring to complete my lifelong objective,” he said.

Earlier, storms had also destroyed Camp I and Camp II as well as fixed ropes were also covered by heavy snow and ice, which delayed the climbing bid in mid-November.

Hong started climbing for summit on October 29. The expedition team comprises five Korean climbers including Hong, record-holder Spanish climber Jorge Egocheaga Rodriguez, 9 Sherpas, and 4 local supporters. Hong has already attempted the most difficult face of the mountain four times in the previous years.

On October 1990, two Russian climbers – Serguey Bershov and Vladimir Karataev – first successfully climbed the mountain from the south face wall which no one has ever repeated. Edward Morgan has recently authored a book entitled: Lhotse South face – The Wall of Legends, presenting a tale of amazing human endeavour against all the odds on the mighty mountain.

The South Korean mountaineer climbed Mt Everest in 1995 from Tibetan side while he skied to the South Pole in 1994 and walked to the North Pole in 2005. Hong also crossed the Bering Strait and Greenland for the first time, according to Wangchu Sherpa, Managing Director at Trekking Camp Nepal, which locally organised the expedition.