First Disabled Climber to Summit the 14 Highest Peaks Presumed Dead

Kim Hong-bin's achievement took a grim turn as he went missing on his way down.

First Disabled Climber to Summit the 14 Highest Peaks Presumed Dead

Photo: Kim Hong-bin.  Credit: Gwangju Metropolitan City Sports Association for the Disabled.

Fifty five year old Kim Hong-bin 김홍빈 summited Broad Peak in Pakistan on July 18, becoming the world’s first disabled climber to climb to the peak of the 14 highest mountains of the world, all over 8,000 meters high.

In 1991, Kim was rescued after having been lost for 16 hours while climbing Denali in Alaska. He regained consciousness after ten days, but lost all of his fingers because of frostbite. Undeterred, Kim resumed climbing in 1997, and began his trek of the “eight-thousander” mountains with Gasherbrum 2 in 2006 and Mount Everest in 2007.

By summiting Broad Peak, Kim became the 44th person in the world to summit all 14 peaks over 8,000 meters high, and the first disabled person to do so. Kim has also climbed to the highest point of all seven continents including Mount Vinson in Antarctica, and was a Paralympics skier for South Korea’s national team.

Kim’s achievement, however, took a grim turn the next day when he fell off a cliff near the 7,900 meter mark. Kim managed to call for rescue with a satellite phone, but fell again while a Russian helicopter was attempting to rescue him. After a week of searching, Kim’s family called the rescue mission on July 26.

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