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Adventurers of the Year

Video: 2011 People's Choice Adventurer of the Year

Winner: Mountaineer Edurne Pasaban

Edurne Pasaban: 2011 Adventurer of the Year

In May 2010, Spanish mountaineer Edurne Pasaban completed a nine-year quest to climb the world’s 14 8,000-meter peaks, a feat which made her our People's Choice Adventurer of the Year.

Videography, editing by Joshua Brown; Photographs courtesy Ignacio Delgado, Edurne Pasaban; Music by Depedro

February 2, 2011

Mountaineer Edurne Pasaban has been named the 2011 People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year.

In May 2010, 37-year-old Spanish mountaineer Edurne Pasaban finished her nine-year quest to climb the world’s 14 tallest mountains, the 8,000-meter (or higher) peaks. This feat made Pasaban and nine other inspiring people our 2010 Adventurers of the Year. We then asked our audience to vote for the person who best embodies the spirit of adventure for the 2011 People's Choice Award.

“If people decided that I am the Adventurer of the Year, I am very happy, you know it,” Pasaban said when we surprised her with the news last week in New York City's Central Park. "In my life, I never thought I would climb the 8,000-meter peaks. And I never thought I would be the Adventurer of the Year. It's a nice present, and I would like to tell everybody thank you very much."

Raised in the mountainous Basque country of northern Spain and standing six feet tall, Pasaban starting climbing when she was 14 years old. By 18, she was climbing in the Himalaya. Pasaban’s mountaineering accomplishments have made her a national hero in Spain. During our interview in Central Park, she was recognized by Spanish tourists, who quickly snapped a photo. Though Pasaban does not think of her climbing in terms of being a woman, she realizes her impact: "I did not set out to prove anything, but if I can be a reference to help women believe in themselves, I will be very content with that," she says.

To train for an 8,000-meter peak, Pasaban focuses on building aerobic endurance. Her training sessions last four hours, six days a week. She runs and lifts weights all year round. In summer, she adds biking and swimming. In winter, she cross-country skis. Once she gets to the mountain, good acclimatization to the high altitudes is key. But most important, she says, is being mentally focused on your goal.

In April, Pasaban will return to Everest, her first 8,000-meter peak, to attempt to summit again, this time without supplemental oxygen. If she is successful, she will have climbed all 14 8,000-meter peaks without oxygen.

“For me, adventure is a way of life," says Pasaban. "I cannot image my life without adventure.”

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