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ExWeb interview, Inaki Ochoa encore, part 1: "the summit is where everything goes down in any and every other direction"

Posted: Mar 07, 2008 03:42 pm EST

(MountEverest.net) 2006 was a sweet year for the climber: He had crowned his numerous Shisha attempts by climbing alone, without oxygen, finding his own way and making the first Shisha summit of the season. For this he was awarded among the Best of ExWeb and the top also marked number 11 in his list of the 14, 8000ers - to which he added number 12, Dhaulagiri, the following year.

Next came a very popular interview, so here goes an encore with the wild Spanish mountaineer: the latest from Inaki Ochoa.

ExWeb: Hey Inaki: Turns out, Danielle Fisher didn't repeat your Shisha route after all. What's your take on that?

Inaki: I still find it funny that you can reach Shisha´s central summit and think you are on the main one, especially when you get back home and see the photos...

But Danielle deserves kudos for being there late in the season and topping out, even with 02 and Sherpas. Mainly because she is young and brave, and she has time to learn and improve her style, if she wants to.

Others, including famous climbers and commercial teams left the mountain before the 5th of October, which is even funnier, because... how can you expect to summit in September? Just because they usually do so on Cho Oyu? Come on, I personally wish my route is repeated soon; it could be a classic and, honestly, it's not that difficult.

ExWeb: In fact, last fall only the south side of the peak was summited, by climbers who fixed the wall top to bottom. What do you think about that climbing style?

Inaki: To climb the British route on the south side of Shisha Pangma with fixed ropes (fixed by Sherpas working under any condition for another team, not by the climbers themselves) is a big step, but of course a big step backwards.

It simply means that you dont know, or you willingly ignore, the history of Himalayan climbing. Scott, Baxter-Jones and Mcyntyre did a great climb in perfect style over there, 27 years ago. We should only learn and improve from their climb, or at least try to match it.

And it has been climbed and down climbed more than 10 times with just a couple of ropes and a bit of technical gear, it has been skied down too... The face is immense, if I was there and found another team fixing ropes on the British route, then I would simply change route, there are so many nice ones there.

But I must say that I like personal freedom, and if they are happy jumaring up Korean rope, then it is fine with me, I dont think it is the end of the world. But please dont come home and say you the great hero climbed the south wall of Shisha... what about you raping the face?

ExWeb: What advice would you give climbers who want to ascend without fixed lines?

Inaki: I would never give any advice to anyone, except put all your heart in whatever you do, go climbing, and enjoy it. I have only been on 29 Himalayan expeditions, so I am still learning. I am no one to go around preaching... Maybe I try next year.

ExWeb: You went back to Dhaula last year in a search operation for the remains of Ricardo and Santi, how did it go?

Inaki: It simply did not go, I did not even get to base camp. I tried to cross the French and the Thapa col 3 times, both well above 5.000m., and did not manage.

There was way too much snow there, making it dangerous even to come down to base camp. It was mid October and it was still snowing hard, something ridiculous. I cancelled my participation, and begged the rest of the search team (who had reached BC via the classic trek) to do the same, which they eventually did some days later.

Even though it has been climbed so often, Dhaulagiri is in my opinion the most underestimated of the 8.000ers. By the way, I am dead sure that at least half of the claims have only reached the fore summit. And some of them got not even there, like the Korean & Sherpas in 2005, which still hold in Liz Hawley´s lists (and in yours) as summiters. Jesus! It's really not all that difficult: the summit is where everything goes down in any and every other direction...

If it is a snowy year; Dhaula is at least as dangerous as Annapurna. In 2005 we failed there and received a hard lesson in humility; we saw 500 meter wide slab avalanches that fell 1.500 meters down, storms coming out of nowhere within minutes, lightening on the ridge, seracs falling, crevasses all the way to camp 2, bad weather all the time...

I never learned so much in 35 days. In 2007 the weather was somehow better, but the traverse under the Eiger", the exposed glacier afterwards, the avalanche prone area around camp 2, and the illogical and risky traverse at 7.700m. - done if you want to gain the main summit - make it a dangerous proposition.

It is the mountain that has taken most out of me from a physical point of view, climbed "Kazakh style" in (very) windy conditions, in a single 24 hour push as we did. I am glad it's over; it took Jorge and me more than 6 months to recover. Kinda feel tired just thinking of it.

Next: Kang and Anna, Pamplona bull runs, saving Everest.


Ochoa de Olza has Kangchenjunga and Annapurna left for the complete list of all 14, 8000ers.
Inaki's route on Shishapangma in blue.
Image by Inaki Ochoa courtesy Inaki Ochoa, SOURCE
"Jesus! It's really not all that difficult: the summit is where everything goes down in any and every other direction..." Image of Dhaula climbers breaking trail courtesy of Exea Dhaulagiri expedition (click to enlarge).

With Inaki in 2007. "My last expedition for climbing was 2008. I ran out of O2 on the summit of Everest and had to get down alone [...] When I got there I found out my great friend Inaki Ochoa had died on Annapurna. [...] I just lost some on my energy for climbing and had just found BASE and wingsuits so I focused my energy on that."