KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — The nine climbers who died during a storm on a Nepal mountain included the first South Korean to summit all 14 Himalayan peaks over 8,000 meters without using supplemental oxygen.
Seoul’s Foreign Ministry confirmed on Monday that Kim Chang-ho was among the dead but has not yet disclosed the names of the four other South Koreans. Four Nepalese guides also were killed when a storm swept the climbers’ base camp on Gurja Himal mountain Friday.
Rescuers had retrieved the climbers’ bodies on Sunday after weather cleared. The body of one of the guides was taken to his village, while the eight others were flown to Kathmandu.
Grieving family members gathered at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Nepal’s capital where the bodies were to be autopsied before being handed to their families.
The South Korean ministry told reporters strong winds during the storm blew the victims from their base camp off a steep cliff on Friday. Word of the destruction got out Saturday morning, and helicopters were sent. They were not able to land due to the continuing bad weather but spotted the bodies, which were retrieved Sunday.
The climbers were attempting to scale the 7,193-meter (23,590-foot) peak during the autumn climbing season. Spring and autumn are the optimal climbing seasons in Nepal in between the harsh winter and summer monsoon.
The Himalayan mountain range includes all 14 of the world’s peaks that rise above 8,000 meters, and only a few dozen climbers have made verified, successful ascents of them all.
Kim achieved his feat in 2013.