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[Newsmaker] ‘Fingerless’ Kim Hong-bin, 1st disabled person to climb world’s 14 highest peaks

South Korean mountaineer Kim Hong-bin (Gwangju Metropolitan City Sports Association for the Disabled)
South Korean mountaineer Kim Hong-bin (Gwangju Metropolitan City Sports Association for the Disabled)
South Korean mountaineer Kim Hong-bin has become the first disabled person to successfully climb the 14 highest mountain peaks in the world -- without the use of his fingers.

According to local alpine club Gwangju Alpine Federation on Monday, Kim conquered the summit of Broad Peak, the third peak of Pakistan’s Karakoram Range located in the northeastern part of Kashmir, on Sunday.

This is an unprecedented accomplishment by Kim, making him the first disabled person and the world’s 44th overall to ascend the 14 peaks that have an altitude of over 8,000 meters. He is the seventh South Korean to do so.

The expedition was organized with six people and departed on June 14. The members set up a base camp at 4,800 meters for Broad Peak. Although the expedition faced difficulties, including bad weather, they reached the summit after four days of full-scale climbing.

The expedition was initially planned for last year, but it was unavoidably deferred due to the spread of COVID-19.

Kim lost all 10 fingers in 1991 on account of frostbite during his solo climb of Denali, the 6,190-meter-high mountain then known as Mt. McKinley that is North America’s tallest.

Despite what could have been a debilitating setback in his life, Kim went on to become the world’s first disabled person to conquer the highest mountains on each of the seven continents.

After his recent success in climbing, Kim conveyed a hopeful message of encouragement for others. “As I could do it as a disabled person, everyone can overcome the exhausting situation of COVID-19.”

Jungheung Group -- the parent company of Herald Corp., the publisher of The Korea Herald -- has been sponsoring Kim’s expedition for seven years.

By Kang Sue-min (sue4161@heraldcorp.com) and news reports
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