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South Korean is first woman to ascend 14 highest mountain peaks

April 27, 2010 | 11:05 am

South Korean female mountaineer Oh Eun-son, foreground, moves towards a second camp on Mount Annapurna. Oh has become the first woman to scale 14 of the world's highest mountains. A 44-year-old South Korean became the first woman to ascend the world's 14 highest mountains, crawling on all fours Tuesday as she reached the peak of Annapurna in the Himalayas. 

The Associated Press reported that Oh Eun-sun arrived at the final steep stretch of the summit 13 hours after leaving the last base camp.

At the top, she pulled out a South Korean flag, waved, and wept before raising her arms and shouting, "Victory!"

Her feat was broadcast live in South Korea by KBS television. Footage showed Oh breathing heavily after each step in minus-20 degree temperatures on snowy Annapurna.

"I'm so happy, and I would like to share this joy with the South Korean people," said an emotional Oh, murmuring, "Thank you, thank you."

The mountaineer reached the summit -- 26,545 feet above sea level -- 13 years after she scaled her first Himalayan mountain, Gasherbrum II, in 1997. 

Oh had attempted to summit Annapurna last year but turned away just hundreds of yards from the top because of bad weather. Snow and wind also stopped her from making the attempt last weekend.

"I gave it up because of a sudden ominous feeling that something bad would happen to either me or my peers, including the sherpas, on my way back to base camp," Oh told the Korea Times last month.

The entire summit team was in good health and making its way down to the base camp, said expedition coordinator Song Hea-kyong, adding that they are expected back in Katmandu by the weekend.

Oh narrowly beat Spanish rival Edurne Pasaban to the record. After reaching Annapurna earlier this month, Pasaban, 26, has only the 26,330-foot-high Mt. Shisha Pangma left on her list.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: South Korean female mountaineer Oh Eun-son, center, moves towards a second camp on Mount Annapurna. She has become the first woman to scale 14 of the world's highest mountains. Credit: Associated Press / Blackyak

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