Shisha Pangma: 14th 8000er for Edurne Pasaban, 11th for Mario Panzeri
On 17 May Edurne Pasaban from Spain reached the summit of Shisha Pangma, completing her tour of the 14 highest mountains in the world. She summited along with Italian Mario Panzeri (11th 8000er).
11.30 today, Monday 17 May. Edurne Pasaban is on the summit. It's a historic moment: the Basque alpinist has just reached the top of Shisha Pangma and, at the same time, she has terminated her long journey along the fourteen 8000ers. After Oh Eun-Sun from Korea, Pasaban is the second woman to achieve this feat. She was joined on the "smallest" - and in some respects one of the toughest - Himalayan giant by the expedition Sherpa and the other members of the "Al filo de lo imposible" team: Asier Izaguirre, Alex Chicón and Nacho Orviz. But that's not all, because the hard work and intense summit joy was shared with the great Himalayan mountaineer from Lecco, Mario Panzeri (who has now climbed 11 8000m peaks), by Renzo Benedetti, Michele Compagnoni (his 2nd) and Alberto Magliano.
37-year-old Edurne Pasaban commenced her adventure just under 9 years ago by reaching the summit of the highest mountain in the world, Everest, on 23 May 2001. This "attack" left its mark for, despite being carried out with supplementary oxygen, left no doubt as to the Basque climber's determination. In 2002 she ascended Makalu and Cho Oyu, while in 2003 she ticked the hat-trick Lhotse, GI and GII. 2004, after her Broad Peak summit, marked a fundamental stage in Pasaban's Himalayan career: the one which is dominated by another beautiful but also terrible Himalayan giant, K2. Pasaban suffered terribly during the descent and she reached Base Camp thanks to both her incredible determination and Silvio Mondinelli and the Italian's vital support.
But Pasaban isn't the type of person who gives up easily. In 2005 she was climbing again and succeeded on Nanga Parbat. 2006 proved unlucky and summitless, while in 2007 she climbed Broad Peak. This was followed last may with Dhaulagiri and Manaslu in autumn. On 18 May 2009 Pasaban stood on the summit of Kangchenjunga, another "terrible" mountain which took it all out of her and which necessitad supplementary oxygen during the descent. Some may remember that it was on Kangchenjunga that, in that time period, another great Himalayan mountaineer turned back: Nives Meroi opted against the summit in favour of looking after Romano Benet, her life and climbing companion. At the time no one could have guessed, but even today Nives and Romano are fighting to beat those problems. We're certain that the entire mountaineering world is at the side!
In the meantime Pasaban's Himalayn march continued. On 17 April she beat all previous records and reached the summit of Annapura, preceding Oh Eun-Sun who was searching for her 14th success. From Annapurna she quickly travelled to the foot of Shisha Pangma to close the circle as soon as possible. Then came the news that the Korean had reached the summit of Annapurna and climbed all fourteen 8000'ers. Pasaban proved unstoppable, even by the loss of the record she'd been gunning for so incessantly. Pasaban continued in her stride, regardless of all the rest. And today her happiness - we're certain - has finally exploded on Shisha Pangma. And it'll be even more complete in Base Camp which she is scheduled to reach in the next couple of hours. In the meantime the Basque alpinist is, quite rightly, a hero in Spain, thanks to her truly outstanding fighting spirit and tenacity.
So Edurne Pasaban's nice and intense race has come to an end, circa 20 days after that Annapurna summit which on 27 April sealed the end to the collection of Oh Eun-Sun, the first woman to have climbed the fourteen highest mountains in the world. Pasaban is the second woman therefore, the first European, to achieve that feat "invented" and achieved by Reinhold Messner exactly 24 years ago.
All finished, everything clear? No, not really. Everyone knows that records in the Himalaya are no clear-cut affair, and there are rumours and doubts already as to the Korean's achievement. Infact, some press agencies (such as AOPCOM) state that the Korean's 14 summits are under scutiny, with a final question mark expressed by Miss Liz Hawley who has some reserves about one or more summits. No one knows how things will turn out. But what is certain though is that the style used by the Korean (read intense route preparation with a massive use of Sherpa and gear) wasn't welcomed warmly in the western mountaineering world. And it's just as certain that, in every case, the race has now come to an end. And perhaps, finally, female Himalayan mountaineering can look towards outstanding achievements which go well beyond simple records.
The 14 800ers by Edurne Pasaban
Everest 23 May 2001
Makalu 16 May 2002
Cho Oyu 5 October 2002
Lhotse 26 May 2003
Gasherbrum II 19 July 2003
Gasherbrum I 26 July 2003
K2 26 July 2004
Nanga Parbat 20 July 2005
Broad Peak 12 July 2007
Dhaulagiri 1 May 2008
Manaslu 5 October 2008
Kangchenjunga 18 May 2009
Annapurna 17 April 2010
Shisha Pangma 17 May 2010