Pasaban: Everest looks like Disney World
In sports the second is often seen as the first looser. On May 17,2010 Edurne Pasaban from Spain finished the climbing of all fourteen 8000ers. But up to now it’s not clear whether she was the first or second woman who achieved this. Oh Eun-Sun completed the 8000ers three weeks earlier, but it remains disputed, whether the Korean really reached the summit of Kangchenjunga. When I talked to Edurne at the trade fair ISPO in Munich, I felt that the 39 years old climber is in harmony with the world around her, with the mountains and herself:
Edurne, you completed the fourteen 8000ers in 2010. Have you been in the Himalayas since then?
I came back to Everest in 2011. Everest was my first 8000er in 2001, I used (supplementary) oxygen for the summit. So after I had finished all 8000ers I wanted to try Everest without oxygen. But we didn’t make the summit.
Until now there have been debates whether Oh Eun-Sun really reached the summit of Kangchenjunga or not. Have these discussions been difficult for you or have they left you cold?
I think this kind of dispute is neither good for me nor for Miss Oh nor for all alpinists. It’s no good image for climbers. It was a difficult situation that I could do nothing. The Korean Alpine Federation said that she didn’t climb Kangchenjunga, so the debate began and it was a very crazy moment for me.
In this case not Miss Oh, but you would be the first woman who climbed all 8000-meter-peaks. Do you feel you are the first or the second?
It was the big project, the big challenge of my life to finish all 8000-meter-peaks some day. It’s true that it’s nice to be the first one if you make something, but it’s not the most important, there are many more things. I spent a lot of time in this one. It was one part of my life, but now I’m in another period.
Did you fall into a deep hole after you had reached your target?
I thought: What can I do now? I had spent a big part of my life on expeditions. When you make one, you already make plans for another one. I saw a big hole in front of me. But when I took care of it, I said: First I need time for me. Now I have spent two years. I continued climbing in the Alps or elsewhere. I never thought that I could live one day without 8000ers, but now I can. Life continues.
Is it a kind of new freedom?
Yes. But when you are at the end of something, you don’t see this freedom very clear. You need time to see that you can make something more – like going to the Pyrenees with my friends or to the Alps for ten days climbing or skiing. I didn´t have this time before, now I have it.
Have the 8000ers lost the fascination for you?
No. They are still important. I have spent nice years of my life there. If now a good friend asks me ‘Edurne, do you want to come with me to an 8000er?’, I will go. Because I like the area in the basecamp and I like expeditions.
Next May the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest will be celebrated. How do you think now about the highest mountain on earth?
Everest is a special mountain, it’s the highest, the top of the world. And everybody, who starts climbing in the Himalayas or elsewhere, has the goal to climb Everest at least once in his life. When I made it in 2001 I thought before that I would cry on the summit or would be crazy. But it was not like that. I felt fear, took a picture and went back. I lost a little bit there. Everest is nice and the highest, but it’s not a fantastic place. Everest has changed a lot during the last years. It’s true that it’s a commercial mountain in spring, on the normal route from the south and the north side. But if you want to go to Everest without anybody you can do so: In winter or on another route. There are more than 15 routes where nobody is climbing. We speak a lot about the many people on Everest. But there is another Everest that you can find if you want to.
Would it be attractive for yourself to do it?
Only two percent of the people on Everest are without oxygen. When I started to climb 8000ers I checked it out and said: Only a few are without O2. So I also used oxygen in 2001. But after all 8000ers I know that you can go to Everest without oxygen, if you train a lot. Now I know my body, how I feel in high altitude. So I have this inside me that maybe one day I will like to come back to Everest without oxygen.
What do you wish Mount Everest for the future?
The last news from Everest were not good news. It looks like Everest is a show, like a Disneyworld. But it’s not like that. So I think the best present we can give Everest is to have big respect for him. Maybe Mount Everest is a commercial thing, but it’s a mountain, the highest, and we must respect him.
P.S. You can hear the statements of Edurne concerning the 60th anniversary on the pinboards on the right side of the blog.
Date18. February 2013 | 17:17