NatGeo explorer Sung Taek Hong returns to Lhotse South Face for fifth attempt

KATHMANDU: A renowned mountaineer from South Korean has returned to Nepal yet again to make his fifth attempt to climb the Lhotse South Face, one of the toughest climbs in the world, this autumn.

Upon his arrival in Kathmandu today, Sung Taek Hong (51), who is also one of the National Geographic explorers, said that he along with record-holder Spanish climber Jorge Egocheaga Rodriguez would attempt to scale Mt Lhotse (8,516 m), the world’s fourth highest peak, from the south face.

“I always believe in real mountain climbing,” he further told THT, while preparing to head for Lukla to begin climbing in the Mt Everest region.

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.

Jorge Egocheaga Rodriguez. Courtesy: Facebook
Jorge Egocheaga Rodriguez. Courtesy: Facebook

Hong has already attempted the most difficult face of the mountain four times in the previous years. “We are a strong team while my climbing partner (Jorge Egocheaga) has also climbed all fourteen eight-thousanders,” he said, hoping to make the fifth attempt to cross the mighty wall that defeated the world’s top climbers for over two decades a grand success.

With the endurance keeping high, the climber decided not to give up. “As I have already climbed the formidable wall (once till 8,250 m of altitude) in the previous autumns, such experience would be helpful to ascend to a certain height of the mountain this season.”

Wangchu Sherpa, Managing Director at Trekking Camp Nepal, local organiser of the expedition, said that Hong-led seven-member team would be in Mt Everest region for over two months. “Hong and Jorge Egocheaga would attempt to climb the mountain while other members would provide them with necessary support,” he said, adding that the duo were renowned climbers among the mountaineering fraternity. ‘The team plans to leave for Khumbu region on September 9.”

Khem Raj Aryal, an official at the Department of Tourism said that Hong-led team already applied for the climbing permit for Mt Lhotse. “This is the only team attempting to climb Mt Lhotse this season,” he informed.

According to the climbing records, Hong e reached all the Three Poles. 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.