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Russian mountaineer accuses climbers of passing by missing Korean mountaineer

Fingerless Korean climber Kim Hong-bin still missing despite search efforts

Russian mountaineer Vitaly Lazo and Korean climber Kim Hong-bin (Death Zone Freeride’s Instagram)
Russian mountaineer Vitaly Lazo and Korean climber Kim Hong-bin (Death Zone Freeride’s Instagram)
Russian mountaineer Vitaly Lazo has openly accused climbers of passing by Kim Hong-bin, a disabled South Korean mountaineer who went missing July 18 after reaching the Broad Peak in Pakistan -- one of the 14 highest mountain peaks in the world -- and ignoring the stranded 56-year-old for hours without even sending an SOS to the base camp.

Lazo, who tried to rescue Kim, according to Korean officials at the base camp, posted his message Friday on the Instagram account of Death Zone Freeride, a Russian alpine club. He asked how it was possible that the first SOS call was received after the disabled Korean mountaineer spent over nine hours stranded on a ledge more than 8,000 meters high.

“At least 15 people passed by him, yes, it was dark,” Lazo wrote. “But the light of his headlamp was definitely visible.”

Another climber, Anastasia Runova, fell onto the same ledge as Kim but was able to climb off with help from Kim’s porter Little Hussein.

“According to Little Hussein, after saving the girl, he cried, because he was so tired that could not save Kim. He had no strength left. Hussein asked people to help, but all the ‘hero-climbers’ were exhausted and passed by,” Lazo wrote.

He could accept that the climbers weren’t strong enough to pull Kim up, the Russian mountaineer said, but could not understand why they failed to report the accident by radio.

“One could press the SOS button and leave the device with Kim, one could write a message, and describe the situation that the disabled alpinist is on the Chinese side and is waiting for help,” Lazo wrote in his next Instagram post.

He denounced the passing mountaineers, calling them “pathetic, insignificant people who do not care about human life.”

Kim, who lost all 10 of his fingers to frostbite in 1991, became the world’s first disabled person to climb all 14 eight-thousanders in the Himalayas after he reached the summit of the 8,047-meter-high Broad Peak on July 18.

But he went missing on his way down.

The latest search mission came up empty-handed Sunday, and the rescue helicopter returned to the base camp.

Korea has asked China and Pakistan to help with the search for Kim. Beijing approved a request from Islamabad last week to allow Pakistani rescue helicopters into Chinese territory.

By Kan Hyeong-woo (hwkan@heraldcorp.com)
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