On 17 May 2010 Edurne Pasaban became the first woman to climb the 14 eight-thousander peaks. She only needed twenty expeditions to complete this, showing a good performance in the Himalayas.The Journey The Story The Challenge
The story of mountaineering is a story of struggle, sacrifice, strength and a desire for personal triumph.
The French climbers Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal were the first to climb a peak of over 8,000 metres, Annapurna, in 1950. This was half a century after the first expedition, involving the British climbers Albert Mummery, Geoffrey Hastings and J.Norman Collie, ended in tragedy.
The Italian climber Reinhold Messner spent 16 years of his life ensuring that on 16 October 1986 he became the first man to climb the 14 eight-thousanders. Without oxygen and finding six new routes, mountaineering continued writing its own story.
Claiming her own place in history, on 17 May 2010 Edurne Pasaban became the first woman to complete the 14 eight-thousanders when she climbed Shishapangma. Close
Climbers risk falling into crevices or cliffs, being buried by avalanches, being swept away by storms, suffering from hypothermia, frostbite or altitude sickness or simply collapsing from exhaustion.
Those taking on the challenge of climbing the Himalayan giants must face what is called the "Death Zone" from 7,500 metres upwards, where the body is incapable of acclimatising and literally eats itself to death.
Brief, as the mountaineer Lionel Terray once said "to conquer the useless".
If you actually reach the summit, because the odds are pretty high that you won't. The climb takes weeks and involves acclimatisation, various partial ascents to set up camps and work on the route, violent storms that make it impossible to work and multiply the risk of avalanches, etc.
When at last the conditions are ideal (if this ever happens) for an assault on the summit, there is normally only time and effort for one attempt.
The question is whether it is worth facing such great a risk, so much suffering. For Edurne Pasaban it is.Close
There are 14 peaks on the planet above 8,000 meters, divided between the great Himalayan and Karakoram ranges in Asia.
Reaching the base of these mountains means tramping on foot, for days, through ever higher and increasingly isolated lands, until you reach a hostile world of rock and permafrost.
Looked up close, the eight-thousanders seem immense and unconquerable.
Trying to reach the peak is, depending on how you look at it, either madness or the challenge of your life.
Before Edurne, 20 other people had completed the 14 eight-thousanders, all men.
That's no surprise: climbing just one of these mountains requires experience, mastery of the techniques for climbing rock, ice and snow, physical and mental training, time, money, the ability to face suffering and of course to have good luck. Climbing them all is only thinkable for professional mountaineers who consecrate their lives to it. And it's not an easy life.Close