KATHMANDU — A South Korean climber seeking to become the first woman to scale the world's 14 highest peaks has put off her summit attempt of Annapurna until Tuesday amid doubts over her claim to the record.
Oh Eun-Sun, 44, planned to make her final push to the 8,091-metre Himalayan peak this weekend but decided to delay it until Tuesday because of bad weather, expedition coordinator Song Heak Kwoung told AFP on Saturday.
"There is a lot of wind and it's snowing. She will attempt to summit on (Tuesday) April 27," the expedition organiser said in Kathmandu. "The weather is very bad."
Oh is one of just two female climbers who say they have stood on the top of 13 of the 14 mountains over 8,000 metres (26,000 feet). The other is Spain's Edurne Pasaban.
If she succeeds in her assault on Annapurna, one of the world's deadliest mountains, Oh will make history, becoming the first woman to have scaled the world's 14 peaks over 8,000 metres, her team says.
But Oh's bid to become the first woman to set the record has suffered a setback with doubts being voiced over her 2009 ascent of Mount Kanchenjunga.
Elizabeth Hawley, one of the leading authorities on Himalayan mountaineering, said Oh Eun-Sun's climb would be considered "disputed" after fellow mountaineers questioned whether she made it to the top.
Hawley said several other mountaineers, including Pasaban, disputed Oh's claim to have reached the summit of the world's third-highest peak in May 2009.
"There were several teams on Kanchenjunga at that time, one was Miss Pasaban's and one was Miss Oh's," Hawley told AFP in Kathmandu late Friday.
"The only picture that anyone has seen shows Miss Oh standing on bare rock. But Miss Pasaban showed me a picture of her team on the summit, and they are standing on snow.
"The other reason is that of the three Sherpas that climbed with Miss Oh, two have said she did not reach the summit."
Hawley leads the team that compiles the Himalayan Database, seen as an authoritative account of all major climbs in the Nepal Himalayas.
She said she would continue to include Oh's 2009 Kanchenjunga ascent in the database, but would describe it as "disputed" in future editions.
AFP was not able to contact Oh for comment, but she has denied similar claims in the past, insisting she did reach the summit of Kanchenjunga.
The 44-year-old climber has attracted huge publicity in her native country, where the Korean Broadcasting Service plans to devote several hours of live coverage to her attempt on the summit of Annapurna.
A 10-member team including Oh and a KBS producer on Friday reached camp three, located at a height of 6,400 metres (21,100 feet).
But they started descending on Saturday morning after giving up efforts to reach the next camp, at a height of 7,200 metres, because of strong winds, KBS TV reported.
Oh and her colleagues were planning to descend to a lower-level camp and wait for the weather to clear. Avalanches and ice falls have claimed the lives of dozens of climbers attempting to summit Annapurna.
Annapurna is particularly dangerous because it is both technically difficult and avalanche-prone, and it has a much higher death rate than Everest, the world's highest peak.
Oh, who was defeated by Annapurna last year, made the decision to delay her assault on the peak after being told by radio from her base camp that it would be snowy and windy at the weekend, Yonhap news agency said.
Hot on Oh's heels in pursuit of the same record is Pasaban.
An exhausted but jubilant Pasaban announced on April 17 that she had reached the summit of the 8,091-metre Annapurna, becoming the first Spanish woman ever to do so and leaving her with just one more mountain to scale.
The race is now on for Pasaban to reach Tibet, where she will attempt to climb her last "eight-thousander", Shisha Pangma, the smallest of the 14 peaks at 8,027 metres.
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