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  K2 2004: Edurne Pasaban


Spain's Edurne Pasaban isn't easily daunted. On July 26th  she fought frostbitten feet, a lack of oxygen, and K2's treacherous slopes to become only the 6th woman to summit the world's second tallest mountain. The 30-year-old mountaineer, who summited without supplemental oxygen, was one of four climbers Spanish, to reach the summit that afternoon.

Edurne was born in the Basque region of Spain in 1973 and began climbing at the age of fourteen. She has now conquered 7 of the world's fourteen mountains over 8,000 meters including Everest, Makalu, Lhotse, and Cho Oyu.

The ascent of K2, which began on June 10th , was both arduous and lengthy, taking over fifteen hours to put the team atop the mountain at 5pm. This was both an hour later than planned and an hour past what is usually considered a safe arrival time, and well past the optimal noon-1pm window. Also, unlike well-traveled Everest, no one had been to the top of K2 in three years. The climbers had to break their own trail up the mountain. Edurne herself was air-lifted from K2 base camp just two days after reaching the summit.

The history of women on K2 is both triumphant and tragic. Of the five women who preceded Edurne to the top have all have died while climbing. Three of them died on the descent following their successful K2 summits and two others, including legendary Polish climber Wanda Rutkiewicz died on Kangchenjunga. Only one woman has summited Kangchenjunga.

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