73' As well as Edurne the professional mountaineer, we have Edurne the businesswoman, the speaker, the woman who works for charity ... with a constant thirst to find new experiences in and out of her sport.
Edurne Pasaban (Tolosa, Gipuzkoa, 1 August 1973). Besides being the first woman to complete the ascent of the 14 eight-thousanders on earth, she has a degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of the Basque Country, a Masters in Human Resources Management from ESADE Business School and is Associate Professor at the Instituto de Empresa.
As a result of this dedication and hard work she has received numerous awards, including the Gold Medal for Sporting Merit and the Queen Sofia Prize for Best Sportsperson of the Year in 2011.
I worked as an engineer in the family business before opening a small rural hotel and restaurant.
Edurne often took part in mountain sports, but she never thought about doing it full time.
Her first job was as an engineer in the family business, which manufactures paper cutters and winders, PASABAN S.A.a leading company in the international paper industry. She later founded her own business, a small rural hotel and restaurant in the Basque Country, "Abeletxe".
98' At 15 she started rock climbing with her cousin Asier. A year later she ascended Mont Blanc (4,810 metres)
A natural talent for moving in the mountain, an interest shared by those around her and her growing enthusiasm led Edurne to look for peaks beyond the Basque Country and the Pyrenees. When she was 15 she started rock climbing with her cousin Asier (future partner in several eight-thousander climbs). A year later she climbed Mont Blanc. She went on to climb in the Andes before finally facing her first Himalayan challenge, Dhaulagiri, which she tried to climb (without reaching the summit) in 98.
Her first expedition to the Himalayas took place in 1998, and she would repeat this experience in the great mountains of Asia on numerous occasions.
In 2001 she joined her first expedition to Everest (8,848 m). It was a unique opportunity in her life: to climb a peak of more than eight thousand metres is an experience the few mountaineers can afford, but coming face to face with the rooftop of the world is a dream come true. At that moment Edurne, aged 28, was completely unknown in the small world of mountaineering. However, when she got home she had the successful ascent in her pocket and an addiction to the Himalayas in her veins. She would have to go back.
01' "Every time that I finished an expedition, I would think about which team I could join the following year. I always wanted to go back to the Himalayas"
She was never short of invitations, but she also experienced bitter moments. In the autumn of that year she tried her luck again with Dhaulagiri (2001). The day of the assault on the summit, the mountain was in very dangerous condition and Edurne took the difficult decision not to go up. Her friend Pepe Garcés did try it, but a slip during the descent cost him his life. Unbreakable, the following year Pasaban returned to climbing, reaching the peak of the gruelling Makalu.
03' In 2003, Edurne linked the peaks of Lhotse and the two Gasherbrums. The challenge of the 14 eight-thousanders was starting to take shape ...
Any veterans still thinking that Edurne was nothing more than a lucky girl in the mountains had to eat their words. In just one year (2003) the Tolosa climber conquered the peaks of three eight-thousanders: Lhotse and both Gasherbrums, an achievement reserved for a few elite climbers. Since then, the world of mountaineering has looked at Edurne in a different light: not only was she the Spanish woman who had climbed the most eight-thousanders, but she was also a strong candidate to become the first woman to complete the famous "fourteen". The person who was thinking the least about this possibility was Edurne herself. "I just want to climb," she claimed.
04' None of the six women who had hitherto reached the summit was alive to tell the tale.
K2 (8,611 metres), which in that year was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first ascent, awaited Edurne in 2004. Just a few metres lower than Everest, it is considered by many as one of the world's most dangerous peaks.
Along with the team from the TVE television programme called "Al Filo de lo Imposible", an expedition was organised with the mass media and the best Himalayan experts on the national scene. Edurne, however, was not completely mentally prepared... Furthermore, she was sad that none of the six women who had set foot on the peak so far was alive to tell the tale.
The K2 expedition was a success, but the mountaineer paid a very heavy price.
The intense cold on the day of the assault on the summit, the complication of the last sections and the time spent fixing ropes and opening the route ahead of all the other expeditions on the mountain, used every last drop of her energy. Exhausted and with frostbitten feet, for Edurne the descent became a fight for survival. The adventure ended in her long and very painful recovery in hospital, and two toes being amputated.
05' Edurne reflected on her future and applied for jobs in engineering projects, but...
The traumatic experience led Edurne to rethink her future. She needed some peace and quiet and time to weigh up her options, and even considered the idea of leaving mountaineering. She rested, travelled, and continued studying. Even when she returned to Pakistan (2005) and reached the summit of Nanga Parbat, she was still not clear about which direction her career was going to take. "I started sending job applications again for engineering projects," says the mountaineer. "However, in the end I asked myself the key question: Would I be happy working as an engineer for the rest of my life, and the answer was no."
07' Edurne found herself again, recovered her lost motivation and faced her greatest challenge: to climb the 14 eight-thousanders and, if possible, to be the first woman to do so
Months later she returned to another eight-thousander, Shishapangma, but with a different attitude, accompanied only by close friends, with no media coverage, and following the route she really wanted to climb: the beautiful British route on the south face. The poor conditions prevented her from reaching the summit, but that didn't matter. She had found her motivation again. "I have returned to the mountains," she wrote at the end of the trip. Since then, Edurne has taken control of her ascents, deciding what to do and where to go.
The girl who only wanted to climb with her friends has become a true expedition leader. In the summer of 2007 she climbed Broad Peak. On the way back, and while planning the following year, she decided that she really could and wanted to complete the challenge to climb the 14 eight-thousanders and, if possible, be the first woman to do so.
After climbing Dhaulagiri, Manaslu and Kangchenjunga, where Edurne experienced one of the "most difficult moments of her life," the mountaineer from Tolosa reached Shishapangma. There, on 17 May 2010, thanks to her determination, she became the first woman in history to climb the 14 peaks of over eight-thousand metres on the planet.