Nepal | May 23, 2019

NatGeo explorer Sung-Taek Hong to attempt Lhotse South Face yet again

Rajan Pokhrel

KATHMANDU: Renowned South Korean climber Sung-Taek Hong, 52, has left for the Mt Everest region to make his sixth attempt to climb the Lhotse South Face, one of the toughest climbs in the world, this season.

According to Wangchu Sherpa, Managing Director at Trekking Camp Nepal, Hong will be leading a six-member international team in the world’s fourth highest mountain.

Before departing for Lukla, Hong, who is also one of the National Geographic explorers, told THT that he along with other members would attempt to scale Mt Lhotse from the south face. “I am going to make my sixth attempt on the Lhotse south face,” he said.

Hong has already attempted the most difficult face of the mountain five times in the previous years.

Other members of the Lhotse South Face Expedition – 2019 include woman climber Flutura (Uta) Ibrahimi from Kosovo, record-holder Spanish mountaineer Jorge Egocheaga Rodriguez, Gabriel Jaime Morant from Colombia, Chinese woman climber Jing He, Nak-Jong Seong and Jin-Kwon Woo from Korea.

“As I know, it is not an easy mountain, I’ve been preparing and training for a long time,” Hong reacted.

A famous mountaineer, turning around after experiencing few failures, also said that it’s the route of XXI century and climbing this one may be more valuable than climbing all the world’s 14 highest peaks.

“The strategy of my climbing is ‘not to give up. And, I know the best achievement in climbing is to succeed without any casualty,” he said. “Regardless of failure or success, when we all happily climb with no regret, without accident, that will be the most honourable achievement of ours.”

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. Till date, at least 26 attempts have already been made on the Jerezy Kukutz route to cross the 3,300m vertical wall with an average inclination of 75 degrees.

“This season, our team sincerely desires to realise the spirit of Alpinism by pioneering a new route of the Lhotse South Face, and accepting the challenge of overcoming one of the most difficult ascents in climbing history,” Ibrahimi, one of the members of the expedition, said.

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 reports.

“It will not be an easy one, rather a rough and harsh climbing. I am thinking how we can climb the wall and achieve success safely.”

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