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Asia, Tibet, Everest Traverse from the North in the Pre-Monsoon

Everest Traverse from the North in the Pre-Monsoon. On April 14, two figures were seen from Nepal descending the southeast ridge, which no one had ascended. They turned out to be an experienced Himalayan climber from South Korea, Heo Young-Ho, and Ngati Sherpa, completing an unplanned traverse from north to south, only the second time any climbers had accomplished this and the first time without support from the south. Heo was a member of a four-man South Korean team led by Oh In-Hwan. When they got down to the highest camp yet established on the southern side, at 7200 meters, they had been 37 hours without food, drink or proper shelter. On the night of April 11, their tent was ripped by strong winds and in the morning their cooking partly burned it. On the 12th, they carried only their sleeping bags when they moved up to a snow hole used by previous climbers at 8300 meters, just below the north ridge. They surmounted the ridge the next day in high winds and falling snow. The two men were on the summit in mid-afternoon of April 13. The bad weather made them decide to descend the southeast ridge, which Heo knew from his having been up it in 1987. They scooped out a narrow snow hole for the night at 8500 meters. On the 14th, they were dismayed to find no one at the South Col. They continued their descent, exhausted, cold and dehydrated, until they arrived at the 7200-meter camp of a Korean women’s team, where in mid-afternoon they received nourishment and attention to Ngati’s frostbitten fingers. They did not stay long but continued down to the next lower camp, which was Advance Base for several expeditions. Heo’s teammates on the Tibetan side thought he was dead until he descended on the 15th to Base Camp and was able to tell them by a borrowed walkie-talkie that he was alive and safe. Heo then had to deal with government bureaucracy, for he had entered Nepal illegally. From Base Camp, he was escorted by a liaison officer to Kathmandu and the Ministry of Tourism. He got a sympathetic reception there. As soon as his passport had been brought to Kathmandu by the expedition’s Sherpa cook, he had a Nepalese visa and could fly home on April 29.

Elizabeth Hawley