The travel that changed me: Edurne Pasaban

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Edurne Pasaban made mountaineering history when she became the first woman to have undisputedly climbed all 14 of the eight-thousanders – the only mountains on the planet above 8,000m.

She has a degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of the Basque Country, a Masters in Human Resources Management from ESADE Business School and is Associate Professor at the Instituto de Empresa.

Here, Edurne Pasaban tells Atlas & Boots about the travel that changed her.

What region or trip impacted you the most?

One of the trips that most impacted me the most was my first trip to Nepal and to the Himalayas. I was 24 at the time. I went to Nepal to climb for the first time an 8,000m mountain.

I have already climbed in a lot of places in the World – the Alps, the Pyrenees – but to make my dream of going to climb the Himalayas come true, meant a lot to me. I went with my group of friends from my town, the same group with which I used to go climbing every weekend and holidays.

How did it change you?

I could admire the splendour of the Himalayas. After having climbed all over the world, to be at the foot of an 8,000m mountain made me realise how small we are compared to nature, which made me respect it.

After that first time, I have been back to the Himalayas many times and I have learnt a lot after that experience. I learnt to value my life more. Seeing beautiful landscapes made me understand how lucky we are to see such amazing places with our own eyes, and I dream about having a long life to be able to see more beautiful places.

Edurne Pasaban Edurne Pasaban in Nepal

What surprised you about the area?

The hospitality of people in Nepal surprised me. They don’t have a lot but they share all they have with you. They care about you and, above all, their smiles. We live in a society in which we don’t receive or see a smile very often. In places like Nepal, they smile at you all the time.

Have you been back?

I have repeated the trip many times. Since that first time I have been to Nepal almost every year. I’ve been more than 25 times since 1998. It’s a place that, even if I don’t go climbing there, I need to go once a year at least to recharge my batteries; I need to feel the peace that the place and its people transmits.

Do you still have a big dream destination you haven’t managed to get to?

I do have a big dream: Antarctica. I would love to go and cross the Pole; to feel the lonesomeness and peace of the white ice shelves of this region.

To guidebook or not to guidebook?

Depends on where you are travelling to, but to me if you are going to an unknown place, it helps to have a guidebook. I have a great collection of guidebooks at home.

Are you a planner or see-how-we-goer?

I like planning things although I sometimes should be more flexible. As an engineer, I’m definitely a planner, and I have realised I apply this to my trips and life. But I’m easy to adapt to changes.

Hotel or hostel (or camping)?

This depends on the moment and the company you are with – I can stay wherever. My parents taught me about going camping since I was a child. I have spent more than three months inside a tent at the Himalayas, so I love it. But, there are some occasions in which I value staying at a good hotel or hostel.

What has been your number one travel experience?

Very difficult to chose just one  I have a lot! One of the best travel experiences I have ever had (or better said, ‘trekking experiences’), is trekking to Kanchenjunga’s base camp. It’s an incredible place and valley. Not many westerners have arrived yet, so you can feel and see the purest Himalaya.

Keep up to date with Edurne’s explorations at or read her book Tilting at Mountains: Love, Tragedy, and Triumph on the World’s Highest Peaks.

Lead image: Edurne Pasaban