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Famed South Korean climber is missing after falling into crevasse on Pakistani mountain

Pakistan Alpine Club's Karrar Haidri with South Korean climber Kim Hong Bin
The Pakistan Alpine Club’s secretary, Karrar Haidri, left, with South Korean climber Kim Hong Bin in Islamabad, Pakistan.
(Pakistan Alpine Club)

A famed South Korean climber fell into a crevasse over the weekend in bad weather after scaling a mountain peak in northern Pakistan, a mountaineering official said Tuesday.

Kim Hong Bin was descending from the top of the 26,400-foot-tall Broad Peak in Pakistan’s north Karakoram Range on Sunday, said Karrar Haidri, the secretary of the Pakistan Alpine Club.

With the summit, the 57-year-old Kim had scaled all of the world’s 14 highest peaks, becoming the first person with a disability to do so. In 1991, while climbing in Alaska, he suffered severe frostbite and had all his fingers amputated.

While descending from the peak with several other mountaineers Sunday, Kim slipped and fell down the Chinese side of the mountain, according to Haidri.

“Since then no information is available about him,” Haidri said, adding that a search mission was being planned.

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In Seoul, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said Pakistan had promised to send a helicopter to find Kim as soon as weather conditions allowed. Spokesman Choi Young-sam said China had also agreed to make efforts to find the climber.

The American climber, 55, died at Everest’s highest camp after having to turn back. Bad weather had forced climbers to lower altitudes.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in — who had earlier issued a message congratulating Kim on scaling the world’s 14 highest summits — said he would pray for Kim’s safe return.

“The information is not clear and I’m not abandoning hopes” that Kim is still alive, Moon tweeted. “I’ll earnestly wait for the news of his safe return with my people to the end.”

Kim’s mountaineering successes include conquering the world’s tallest mountain, Mt. Everest, and Pakistan’s K2, the second-tallest, which, like Broad Peak, is also in the Karakoram Range. Disability never became a hurdle for Kim, Haidri said, and did not stand in the way of his passion.

The other mountaineers, who had tried in vain to find him, were safe and were descending amid bad weather. The South Korean Embassy in Islamabad was also organizing a search mission, Haidri said.

Reinhold Messner, king of the high-altitude climbers, has scaled the world’s loftiest peaks, but he said Thursday that he is not so proud of what he has done.

“We do not want to speculate” on Kim’s fate, Haidri told the Associated Press, amid reports on Twitter that Kim had died.

Ghulam Muhammad, the owner of the Blue Sky Expedition tour company, which arranged the expedition for Kim, said he was in contact with Kim’s family.

Scores of mountaineers visit Pakistan every year to scale various peaks in the country’s scenic north. But the sport is dangerous, particularly when a sudden change in weather occurs.

Earlier this year, three climbers — Pakistani mountaineer Ali Sadpara, Jon Snorri of Iceland and Juan Pablo Mohr of Chile — died while attempting to summit the 28,250-foot-tall K2. Their bodies could not be traced and retrieved despite several attempts by Pakistani search-and-rescue teams aided by the military.


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