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with Stefan Nestler

Without fingers onto Annapurna

Kim and Co., in the background Annapurna I

“The man without fingers” wants to get his twelfth eight-thousander. Kim Hong-bin is the only foreign mountaineer to whom the Government of Nepal issued a permit for the eight-thousander Annapurna this spring. However, that does not mean that the 53-year-old Korean will be traveling alone. In the picture from the north side of the 8091-meter-high mountain, which was published by the South Korean newspaper No Cut News, I count 20 other people besides Hong-bin. “He probably has a large base camp support team,” Billi Bierling from the chronicle Himalayan Database writes to me, adding, that the Korean will be accompanied during his climb by four Sherpas.

Accident on Denali

Kim Hong-Bin

In 1991, Kim Hong-bin had suffered severe frostbite on the 6190-meter-high Denali in Alaska, the highest mountain of North America. All ten fingers had to be amputated. In 2017, he scaled Lhotse in spring and Nanga Parbat in summer, his eight-thousanders number ten and eleven. Apart from Annapurna, only Gasherbrum and Broad Peak, both located in Pakistan, are still missing in his collection. Under optimal circumstances, he could climb all three mountains this year.

Paralympics athlete

The 1.76 meter tall South Korean, who lives in the city of Gwangju in the south of the country, has never let his disability slow him down. Kim is also a ski racer. So he took part in the Paralympic Games 2002 in Salt Lake City and finished both Slalom and Super G ninth. In winter 2017, he won – at the age of 52 – the gold medal in slalom at the Korean alpine ski championships of disabled athletes.

On top of the Seven Summits

On the summit of K 2 in 2012

In spring 2007, Kim Hong-bin scaled Mount Everest. Barely two years later, in early 2009, he completed his collection of the “Seven Summits” by climbing Mount Vinson in Antarctica. “If the accident at Denali hadn’t happened, I would have remained an ordinary climber,” Hong-bin once said. “The hardship made me challenge the seemingly impossible. I overcame the handicap a mountain gave me by climbing mountains.”


26. April 2018 | 16:03