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Living Colours: ‘They call Nanga Parbat the man killer for a reason’

Living Colours: ‘They call Nanga Parbat the man killer for a reason’

Kim Hong Bin, 53, was the first to climb to the top of Nanga Parbat this summer.

“The Korean mountaineer climbed to the summit in just 15 days when it takes a month to climb the killer mountain,” said Karrar Haidri, spokesperson of the Alpine Club of Pakistan.

Mr Kim starting climbing mountains in 1983. Fatigue got the best of him when he was attempting to climb Mt McKinley in Alaska in 1991. Rescued after 16 hours, Kim remembers waking up in the hospital to learn all his fingers had to be amputated due to frost bite.

He climbed the first mountain over 8,000 metres, the Gasherbrum II in 2006 and went on to climb 11 of the 14 highest peaks in the world.

After climbing to the top of Lhotse, Nepal on May 19 this year and Nanga Parbat on July 7, Kim Hong Bin has to climb three more mountains towering over 8,000 meters to complete his dream of having climbed the 14 highest peaks in the world. Dawn caught up with Mr Kim to talk about his climbing expeditions.

Q: How does Nanga Parbat compare to the other mountains that stand over 8,000 metres?

A: Nanga Parbat makes climbers sweat bullets. It is the only mountain which sends shivers down my spine. There is a reason they call it the man killer, as victims rarely miss an appointment. I made a failed attempt on the Nanga Parbat last year and this year also, it seemed impossible I would climb to the top. It took me 32 hours to climb from camp IV at 7,100 metres to reach the top in waist deep snow and then back to the camp without rest.

Q: As a mountaineer, how did you adjust to losing your fingers to frostbite?

A: I was devastated and I cried. But if you are not living on the edge you are just taking up space. Mountains give me energy. It feels good when I climb. Climbing has also become a lot easier over the years. There is so much information available which help climbers make the right decisions. For example, it used to take three months to climb Mount Everest and now it just takes about a month to reach the top of the world’s highest peak mostly because of accurate weather reports.

I only have three more mountains which measure more than 8,000 metres to conquer. I will be returning to Pakistan to climb Broad Peak next year.

Q: What are your future plans?

A: I have dreams and I have no intentions of giving them up. I have won gold medals in skiing consecutively for the last five years and I have also qualified for the 2018 Paralympics. My dreams don’t end there. I want to be a role model for the young, especially the physically challenged and help them the way I needed help after my injuries.

Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2017

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