My life goes beyond what I have learned in the mountains.

My life is a story of personal and professional triumph, in which I have come to understand the true meaning of bravery, motivation and non-conformity.

In addition to Edurne the professional climber, there is Edurne the businesswoman, the conference speaker, the compassionate woman… with a constant desire to discover new experiences both within and outside of her sport.

  • 1973
  • 1994
  • 1998
  • 2001
  • 2002
  • 2003
  • 2004
  • 2005
  • 2007
  • 2010

Edurne Pasaban (Tolosa, Gipuzkoa, 1st of August 1973)

In addition to being the first woman to climb all 14 eight-thousanders on earth, Edurne holds a degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of the Basque Country, a Master’s in Human Resource Management from the ESADE Business School, and is an associate teacher for the IE Business School.


Tolosa, home town of Edurne Pasaban

She worked as an engineer in the family business, going to on open a small country hotel and restaurant.

Mountain sports were a regular thing in Edurne’s life, but she never envisaged them becoming a full-time occupation.
Her first job was as an engineer in the family business, ‘PASABAN S.A. The company, which manufactures paper cutting and winding machines, is an international market leader in its sector. Edurne then went on to set up her own business: a small country hotel and restaurant in the Basque Country called «Abeletxe».


Edurne Pasaban, owner of the restaurant Abeletxe

The path from 0 to 8,848 metres

With a natural gift for mountaineering, the interest which she and her friends shared, and her ever-growing enthusiasm, Edurne began to seek peaks beyond the Basque Country and the Pyrenees. At the age of 15 she began rock climbing with her cousin Asier (a future climbing companion on several of the eight-thousanders). A year later she would climb Mont Blanc, subsequently climbing in the Andes and eventually taking on her first challenge in the Himalayas: Dhaulagiri, which she attempted (without reaching the summit) in ’98.


Edurne Pasaban the path to the 8000

Her first expedition to the Himalayas took place in 1998, an experience which she would repeat on numerous occasions in the great mountains of Asia.

In 2001 she embarked on her first expedition to Everest (8,848 m). It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: climbing a peak of over eight thousand metres is an experience that few mountaineers can afford, but coming face to face with the roof of the world is a dream come true. At that time, the 28-year-old Edurne was a complete unknown in the world of mountaineering. However, she came home with that summit under her belt and an addiction to the Himalayas in her veins. She just had to go back.


Edurne Pasaban’s first expedition to Everest

Lights and shadows / bittersweet moments

She was never short of invitations, but there were also unpleasant times ahead. In the autumn of 2001, she tried her luck again with Dhaulagiri. The day she was due to attempt the summit, weather conditions on the mountain were dangerous and Edurne took the difficult decision to abort her attempt. Her friend Pepe Garcés did try, but a slip during his descent would cost him his life. Unshakeable, the following year Pasaban would again reach a summit: the extremely tough Makalu.


Edurne Pasaban reaches the summit of Makalu

Edurne reached the summits of both Lhotse and the two Gasherbrums. The challenge of the 14 eight-thousanders was beginning to take shape…

If any veteran climber still harboured doubts as to whether Edurne was any more than a lucky girl in the mountains, they had to eat their own words. The girl from Tolosa reached the peaks of three of the eight-thousanders in the same year (2003): Lhotse and the two Gasherbrums, an achievement usually reserved for a few elite climbers. From this moment onwards, the world of mountaineering looked at Edurne through different eyes: not only was she the Spanish woman with the most eight-thousanders climbed, but she was also a firm candidate to be the first woman to complete the famous “fourteen.” For Edurne, however, that was the last thing on her mind: “I just want to climb” she insisted.


Edurne Pasaban on the summit of Lhotse

The battle of K2 / the wild mountain

K2 (8,611 metros), which was celebrating its first ascent 50 years previously, was waiting for Edurne. Just a few metres lower than Everest, it’s considered by many to be one of the most dangerous peaks on the planet.
In collaboration with the Spanish TV programme ‘Al Filo de lo Imposible’, an expedition was organised with extensive resources and the best Himalayan climbers on the national scene. However, Edurne was not fully prepared mentally … what’s more, none of the six women who had previously attempted K2 were still alive to tell the tale.
Intense cold on the day they attempted the summit, the difficulty of the final stretches, and the time it took to fix ropes and open a trail ahead of all the other expeditions on the mountain drained every last drop of energy Edurne had. Exhausted and with frozen feet, the descent became a struggle just to survive. The result of this adventure was a long and painful recuperation in hospital and the amputation of two toes.


K2 the wild mountain

The battle of K2 / Rising from the ashes

This traumatic experience led Edurne to reconsider her future. She needed some time out to weigh up her options, and even considered giving up mountaineering altogether.
She rested, travelled and continued with her studies.
Even when she went back to Pakistan (2005) and reached the summit of Nanga Parbat, she was still unsure about which career path to take. “I started applying for engineering jobs again” she recalls. “However, I finally asked myself the key question: Would I be happy working as an engineer for the rest of my life? The answer was ‘no’”.


Edurne Pasaban on the summit of K2

Edurne finally finds herself, regains her motivation and faces her greatest challenge: to climb the 14 eight-thousanders and, if possible, be the first woman to do so

A few months later she returned to another eight-thousander: Shishapangma, but with a different mindset. Accompanied by only close friends, without media attention, and via the route that she really wanted to climb: the beautiful British route on the South face. Poor weather conditions prevented her from reaching the summit, but it didn’t matter – she had regained her motivation. “I’ve come back to the mountains” she wrote at the end of the trip. Since then, Edurne has taken control of her ascents, deciding for herself what to do and where to go.
The girl who only wanted to climb with friends had become a real-life expedition leader. In the summer of 2007, she conquered Broad Peak. On the way back, and whilst planning the following year, she decided she really wanted to complete the challenge of climbing the 14 eight-thousanders. She knew she could achieve it and be the first woman to do so.


Edurne Pasaban with friends on the summit of Broad Peak

Professional climber, businesswoman, conference speaker, compassionate woman … constantly restless

Having set foot on Dhaulagiri, Manaslu and Kanchenjunga, where Edurne went through one of “the most difficult moments of her life”, this climber from Tolosa arrived at Shisha Pangma. There, on the 17th of May 2010, thanks to her determination, she became the first woman in history to climb the 14 peaks of over eight thousand metres in height on the planet.


Edurne Pasaban on the summit of Shisha Pangma


Edurne Pasaban works as a conference speaker and trainer for both national and international companies. She also gives classes as an associate teacher at the IE Business School in Madrid, and serves as a member of the board for the ANTUERTA S.L. business group.

«“I am, and always will be, a professional climber but I have also travelled many other paths in my professional life and continue to do so.»

  • Technical Industrial Engineering at the University of the Basque country (UPV – EHU)
  • SEP Program (Senior Executive Program) and Master’s in ‘Human Resource Management’ from the ESADE Business School in Barcelona (2005 and 2007)
  • Master’s in ‘Executive Coaching and Management’ from the IE Business School in Madrid (2012)
  • Nominated for the Prince of Asturias Award for Sport 2019, the National Geographic Adventurer of the Year award 2010, the Queen Sofia National Sports award 2010, and the Universal Basque Award 2010

Full profile on LinkedIn


Essential reading to fully understand Edurne Pasaban’s achievements

  • A love story, a love of the mountains story, and as with any love story there is passion, joy and happiness … but also suffering, personal loss, disappointment and sacrifice.
    It is, without doubt, a very personal, human book.

  • Edurne Pasaban became the first woman to climb the fourteen peaks of over 8000 metres. This record-breaking achievement placed this Basque woman on the ‘National Geographic ‘Adventurers of the Year 2010’ list.
    The following year, ‘The Alpinist’ and ‘Outside’ magazines also put her on their ‘Adventurers of the year’ list.