Meet the Adventurers of the Year: Alpinist Edurne Pasaban


Each day we will feature one of the 2010 Adventures of the Year here on our blog. Get to know them all in our photo gallery, then vote for your favorite for the People's Choice award—every day. You can even vote for a new favorite each day, if you can't pick just one. Photograph by Ferran Latorre

The Alpinist

Edurne Pasabán climbed all 14 8,000-meter peaks in the world. Was she the first or the second woman to pull this off? To her, it doesn’t matter.

Everything makes more sense on a mountain. There’s a purity to it, a finality. You climb to the top and live to tell about it, or you don’t. And descents can be more fatal than the push to the summit. Edurne Pasabán knows this all too well. Six years ago, on her way off of 28,251-foot K2, Pasabán lost pieces of her big toes to frostbite. When she returned home to Spain she felt “like a load of things had piled up on me all at once.” She was 31 with no partner, no children, and a life dedicated to a quest that had left her missing some of her toes. She had trouble getting out of bed in the morning. She thought about quitting climbing. Then, not quite a year later, Pasabán returned to the mountains, where things were clearer.

This spring, after knocking off 26,545-foot Annapurna and then, quickly, 26,289-foot Shishapangma, the 37-year-old Basque became the second woman in history to summit every mountain above 8,000 meters (26,247 feet). The first, a Korean named Oh Eun-sun, had climbed Annapurna just weeks before. But Eun-sun’s claim for the 14 eight-thousanders is controversial, her ascent of Kangchenjunga, in 2009, has been called into question—photo evidence and Sherpa accounts don’t match up. Pasabán is sick of the debate. She’s climbed the highest, hardest mountains on Earth. All of them. And to her, that’s what’s important. Who are we to disagree? —By Ryan Bradley

Read more about Edurne Pasabán >>

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