Mount Everest Lhotse and Nuptse from Kala Patthar

Interview with Mountaineer Edurne Pasaban

Published on: December 13th, 2016

Last modified: November 8th, 2023

In 2010, Basque mountaineer Edurne Pasaban became the first woman to summit every one of the world’s 14 ‘eight-thousander’ mountains. She shares some of her career highs and lows, and introduces her foundation in Nepal.

Edurne Pasaban in Nepal.

1. What is the most difficult challenge you’ve faced on the mountains?

The most difficult challenge that I have faced on the mountain is to lose some of my friends. Climbing in Himalayas gave me many things: good friends, big adventures – but also the mountains have taken away some of my best friends.

Aerial View of High Altitude Snowbound Mountains with Massive Glaciers Sharp Rock Ridges and Ice Slopes from Helicopter with Rotating Screw Blade
The Himalaya.

2. Which summit was your greatest achievement and why?

I think that my greatest achievement was climbing K2.

After finishing all the eight-thousanders, I can tell you that K2 is the most difficult, and in 2004 when I climbed K2 no one had climbed the mountain since 2001. The history of this mountain is terrible, and in that moment, in 2004, there were not any woman alive that had arrived to the summit. So, I went climbing K2 with many fears.

We were very lucky with the weather and all the team made the summit and all of us we came back home – it was my biggest achievement.

k2, Pakistan, Himalayas
K2 in the Pakistani Himalayan range.

3. How do you prepare for the 8,000m+ mountains?

To prepare for one 8000m mountain, you need to train like a professional sportswoman. Normally five months before the expeditions I trained for five hours a day. The most important thing is to train your aerobic preparation, and I did this preparation by cycling and running in the mountains.

Edurne in the Pyrenees mountains.

4. Do you go back to Nepal often?

Yes, every year at least two times, because I feel very close to the country. I love to go to Nepal for climbing, trekking or to visit my friends. To me Nepal is my second home.

Himalaya, Nepal
Nepal’s Himalayan mountain range.

5. What prompted you to set up your foundation, Edurne Pasaban Mountaineers for the Himalayas, in Nepal?

I have spent a big part of my life in Nepal climbing mountains, and the Nepalese people taught me to love life, which has helped me a lot in the mountain. Setting up the foundation is a way to give back to the Nepalese children some of the good things we have in our countries.

"A woman spins the prayer wheels at Swayambhunath Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal."
Prayer wheels.

6. What projects are the foundation working on right now?

We are working on two big projects.

Kailash home, in Kathmandu where we have one hundred children in our own hostel, and we give them education until they reach the university. These children have a very poor background and they never had access to education.

After the 2015 earthquake, we started with another project in Dhola village. We learned about one village where all 55 families had lost everything, their houses and their life. All the families decided to leave their settlement and start a new village. They had to walk for three days until they found their new land. And now we are rebuilding 55 houses for all the Dhola people.

Children from Nepalese communities often have no access to education.

You can donate to Edurne’s foundation here. Tourism also provides vital support for communities in Nepal. See some example trips around the country here.