- The world’s first climber to conquer the summit of Batura Sar in Pakistan - The successful ascent of 8,000 meters mountains without oxygen - An unmatched explorer of Pakistan who succeeded in climbing 14 Eight-thousanders.
(14 peaks all of which are over 8000 meters)
These are the expressions that best represent the climber Kim Chang-ho. Kim Chang-ho who has set an outstanding record in the field of climbing has a constant challenge to climb and discover new paths while climbing.
One winter morning, my colleagu reporter and I visited Kim Chang-ho’s office to have an interview with him. He welcomed us like old friends and the interview started in a warm atmosphere sipping coffee that he prepared for us.
Since when did you get interested in climbing and start to climb mountains as a lifelong activity? I had an interest in climbing since I was young and began to climb mountains with a will as I joined a mountaineering club in the University of Seoul (UOS). I started climbing mountains of great altitude when I was a freshman. Never did I imagine that my passion for climbing would lead me to succeeding in reaching summits of numerous mountains.
Wow! Mountain climbing now accounts for a great part of your life. Some people say that there needs to be a correlation between one’s major and one’s dream. How did your major, International Trade, have an influence on climbing in your life? I now major in the Department of Business Administration at the UOS after the department of International Trade disappeared from the curriculum of this university. Anyways, International Trade enabled me to expand knowledge of geography and this further helped me to climb various mountains.
Your major acted as a close connection between you and climbing. You seem very happy when you are talking about climbing and mountains. What aspects of climbing appealed to you the most? I feel a sense of satisfaction from exploring new lands. Even though I am aware of the fact that climbing high mountains could be hazardous, the thrill I feel at the top of a mountain makes me climb mountains again and again. When I look at mountains of great altitude, I desire to challenge myself and overcome the human limitations.
I can definitely see your huge affection toward climbing. You are known as an unrivaled explorer of the Himalayas and I would like to ask what inspired you to challenge yourself to climb the -Pakistan Himalayas. I read a story about an expedition to Pakistan of Alexander the Great before I made up my mind to scale the Himalayas. After reading this book, I desperately wanted to climb up the Himalayas. Do you know what was surprising? I was at the age of 32 when I reached the summit of Himalayas and that is exactly the same age of Alexander the Great when he had an expedition to Pakistan.
What a coincidence! Speaking of climbing in Pakistan, please tell us about some memorable episodes you had back there. There are a number of episodes related to my climbing experiences in Pakistan. Among these, I will tell you a story I could never forget. There was a time when I led my life in the mountain for five years only by myself. I was living there with absolute loneliness. To get over the fear of loneliness, I got into a habit of imagining there was someone sitting next to me and putting food in front of an imaginary person when I was having a meal. And, I even talked to the camera to fight loneliness. These behaviors are easily shown from most of the climbers who spend a long period of time alone in the mountains.
All the time that you have been through in the mountains must have been tough. What are the hardest parts and the most rewarding parts of scaling high mountains such as Mt. Everest? A shortage of food and unpredictable weather are the most toilsome aspects of ascending high mountains. I have walked in the mountains for three days without eating anything, because I ran out of food during the journey. However, I got to be oblivious of this hardship when I reached the summit of the mountain. A stunningly beautiful view that I saw all the way up to the top of the mountain is unforgettable. On the top of mountains, I feel a great sense of accomplishment and this is indeed the most rewarding moment.
Next, I am curious about how it is possible for you not to quit in the middle of climbing 14 Eight-thousanders regardless of adversities. I am a person who aims high and gives enormous efforts to a difficult task. The joy that comes from achieving the lofty goal is the greatest happiness I can obtain. This is the reason why I challenge myself and never give up until I reach the summit of high mountains like 14 Eight-thousanders.
What you have said till now really does inspire me not to be afraid of challenging myself. Lastly, have you got anything to say to our readers? Do something that makes your heart beat with joy and happiness. Put your heart into this and never give up like I did when I was ascending high mountains. Plus, as I will continue to climb up the mountains with different paths I have not taken before, do not forget to challenge yourself constantly!
While I was having lunch with him after the interview was over, I heard good news that he is going to tie the knot this spring. He and the love of his life are planning to go to the mountains on their honeymoon. Even from hearing about his honeymoon, I could feel that his challenge will never stop.