Batura II (7762m), which doesn’t allow many a mountaineer to reach its summit, was conquered on August 11 for the first time by nine members who the University of Seoul (UOS) sent forth. Even though there were high ice ridges that seemed hardened by the mountain’s will to not surrender to anybody, changeable weather and hot sun in the low temperatures, they made history on Batura II.
In March, 9 members (seven people were UOS students and two were alumni) assembled. They became members of the expedition easily because they already knew each other thought their club (UOS Alpine Club) and they participated in the expedition voluntarily. After practicing for 3 months, they went to Pakistan. But in reality, their training had started during the winter vacation.
They always went up a mountain in the vacation as one of the events in their club. One of the members of the expedition and the chief of their club, Park Seong-ku (Dept. of Architecture, 04’) said that even if they were not practicing for Batura II, the experience of climbing a mountain in winter, covered with ice and snow, helps members while mountaineering.
When choosing their climb, mountains which were considered other than Batura II were Mt. Everest (8844m) and Mt. Annapurna (8091m). They deliberated for a long time on which mountain they will go up. Finally, Batura II was selected because it hadn’t been conquered.
They employed Pakistani porters, a cook and a kitchen-boy. The most difficult thing when members of the expedition and the Pakistani employees worked together was culture difference; Pakistan’s religion is Islam. They tried to behave carefully to understand their culture and not to cause complications.
They also tried not to cause trouble in their team and didn’t complain because they knew every member was very touchy; they had to undergo extremely hot sun in sub-zero temperatures and struggle with altitude sickness. However, they were like a family while climbing owing to the chief of the expedition, Kim Chang-ho’s (Dept. of International Trade, 88’) charisma and understanding.
Batura II didn’t give the expedition an easy path. Crevasses* lying in several places with their gaping black chasms, rock-falls and white-out** conditions disrupted the visitors journey to the top. Some dangerous situations occurred; ‘Suddenly I felt one of my legs fall into a hole while we were descending. The place where I stepped carelessly was a hidden crevasse. My center of gravity became displaced. The feeling of fright was bigger than that of physical pain.......’ - Park Young-jae’s (School of Business Administration, 04’) diary, July 7
The chief of the expedition gave the other members some unexpected news just before conquering the peak. He said that he will go to the top with only one of the members from the UOS because of time and risk. The disappointed young mountaineers had a sleepless night so captain Kim consoled them by saying ‘Thank you all for following commands well this far and that Rome was not built in a day.’ Members of the UOS returned without accident having gained an invaluable experience that Korean students have difficulty obtaining.
One of two female members, Seo Jeong-hee (Dept. of Science in Taxation, 06’) said, “I went through a lot of uncomfortable situations. However, the most valuable thing that I got from the experience was self-esteem.” Even though not all of the expedition could step on the snow of the summit, their love of mountains, their vision of conquering mountains and their will to win out against themselves were higher than the height of Batura II.
Episode 1 Park Seong-ku and two other people had a giddy experience. When the Batura II expedition descended the mountain, he was almost hit by a rock the diameter of which was almost 10m. Surprisingly, he said he did not feel any fear because he became fearless of death during the climb.
Episode 2 Seo Jeong-hee saw a rainbow and black yaks frolicking at about 6000m above sea level. At that time she felt dizzy because of altitude sickness, so she wondered if the scene was real or a hallucination.
*A very deep vertical crack in a glacier, formed by stresses that build up as different parts of the glacier move at different rates. **A phenomenon in snowy weather of poor visibility conditions when the overcast sky blends imperceptively with the white landscape.