A few months after becoming the first woman to conquer the 14 eight-thousanders on the planet, Edurne Pasaban returned to the Himalayas. A new challenge awaited her: climbing Everest (8,848 m), the highest mountain on Earth, without the aid of artificial oxygen.
An adventure where we discover that the real objective is not to reach the summit, but to survive.
Just a few months after becoming the first woman to conquer the 14 eight-thousanders on the planet, Edurne Pasaban prepares for a new historic challenge: climbing Everest (8,848 m), the highest mountain on Earth, again, but this time without the aid of supplemental oxygen. The mountaineer, however, will not be alone. The members of her team will be by her side when she faces the ultimate challenge of the extreme altitude.
Edurne introduces us to her team: Asier Izaguirre, Ferrán Latorre, Nacho Orviz and Pablo Díaz-Munío, the expedition doctor. We will discover their day-to-day work, with their family and friends, but also how they prepare to leave their homes and travel to the Himalayas. They explain how they train, what they expect from the challenge, what they have to leave behind, and, most importantly, why they do it.
Edurne Pasaban and her team are in Kathmandu. Before embarking on the road to the mountain, they need to sort out some issues in the bustling capital of Nepal: preparing the materials and supplies needed to supply the base camp, getting official permission to climb the mountain, meeting the mysterious "Himalayan chronicler" and visiting the children at the Kailash Hostel project.
The expedition sets off to the mountain, starting with one of the most dangerous parts of the journey: the flight in a rickety plane to Lukla and its airstrip, not suitable for people of a nervous disposition. Once that hurdle has been overcome, they travel on foot through the Khumbu valley which offers spectacular scenery and wonderful cultural sites, but the route is also increasingly high and cold: the scale of the challenge starts to become clear.
As the expedition members climb ever higher, the route leaves the forests and villages behind and enters high mountain terrain: a desert of rock, ice and rarefied air at the feet of the Himalayan giants where the team will finally reach Base Camp. This inhospitable place will be their home for the next few weeks and the starting point for the final assault on the summit.
Asier Izaguirre shows us around Base Camp and explains the organisation required to live in a glacier for nearly two months. He will soon have to endure this harsh environment. Edurne meets other expedition leaders and they discuss their differences over the treatment of the Sherpas, who she considers essential team members. The final word, however, belongs to the gods of the mountain since you have to ask for their permission in a "puja" ceremony.
The climb begins: this means installing the first camps at altitude. Doing this means crossing the huge Khumbu icefall, a chaos of unstable ice blocks and bottomless cracks. Above this is the Valley of Silence, where the expedition members can finally pitch their tents, study the route to the summit and feel that they are in their real environment: the high mountain.
Edurne and her team are at Camp 2, ready to move on to the next camp, when they hear the noise of a helicopter coming to collect a corpse. Every year Everest claims its victims, and this forces the members of the expedition to reflect, remember why they are there and recover their motivation to keep going.
The expedition reaches the crucial stage, the assault on the summit. The expedition members prepare the equipment for the summit and focus all their efforts on the challenge. It is the culmination of a dream after years of experience, effort and sacrifice. Everything is ready, nothing can go wrong. During the night of reaching the summit, at eight thousand metres, events will show that the real objective is not getting to the top, but surviving.
Back at base camp, the members of the team explain why they had to abort the assault on the summit and recover their strength before trying again. But they cannot rest. A Spanish expedition on the neighbouring Lhotse is in dire straits and a rescue has to be launched. They face a very tense 48 hours.