We have covered hundreds of expeditions in 2006. It's difficult to choose the best, as they all contributed in their own way, sharing their story - their very soul in fact - with us and the world.
And yet, there are those who continue to linger in our minds long after their final debrief. We have chosen 8 expeditions who have contributed in an extraordinary way to the Spirit of Adventure in the year of 2006.
Today number 8: Iñaki Ochoa - Shisha Pangma
Shisha Pangma seemed a doomed mountain for Iñaki Ochoa. Following previous attempts stretching 11 years back (two only last year including a solo try in March); by mid September this year Iñaki reached Shisha BC again, sharing permit and logistics with Project Himalaya.
The mountain face looked no brighter this fall season however. Winds and bad conditions on the upper sections eventually forced all climbers back from the peak.
Surrender no more
Project-Himalaya expedition leader and Shisha veteran Jamie McGuinness reported, We pitched our C3 tent in the dark. The following morning we started rather late, and it soon became obvious that there was some serious trail-breaking to do. We were slow, but the worse was to come: Clive lead up some horrible slabby stuff with a slab layer underneath the obvious top layer The other times we have climbed Shisha Pangma there has been the occasional tricky section - but not the whole route. We called it a day.
We havent summited, thats the fact. But we had a good reason, reported a Norwegian climber on October 2. When I stepped on unsafe snow above 7500 meters a large snow-slab came loose - and enough was enough.
Ochoa had made two failed summit bids already but the very next day after the second one - on October 2 - the Spaniard went right back up from BC for a third push and this time he had made up his mind: He would surrender to Shisha Pangma no more.
Negotiating new territory in a lonely summit attempt
Iñaki reached C1 (6400m) of the normal route at 01:00 am, on October 3. Climbing fast on his own from there, bad conditions on the upper section made Iñaki look for an alternative way to the top. The route he eyed had at least one exposed section - but sidestepped the tricky traverse over the sharp ridge leading from the central summit to the top.
At camp 3 of the normal route (7440m), Iñaki traversed down to 7250m eastwards, and then went head-on for an exposed crossing below a hanging glacier. Reaching a small bergshung Iñaki aimed straight up towards a spur, which involved a bit of rock climbing.
For 800 meters, the lonely Spanish climber followed new territory with difficulties up to III degree (alpine scale) with steepness up to 60º. At 7950m the route joined the East Ridge and a route used by those climbing Shisha from its SW face along the British route.
Conditions were poor, with knee-deep snow at some points, but the route was sheltered from the (very strong) southwest wind," Iñaki reported.
After climbing for 12 hours the upper section of a mountain that had already turned back each and everyone of close to a hundred climbers including a number of resourceful commercial teams, Iñaki - alone - stood on the highest point of Shisha Pangma at 2:15 pm that day. "I could only stay on the top for 1 second, before the wind pushed me away, he said about his Shisha summit - the first of the season.
Descending after summit, the lonely climber was hosted in a Peruvian C2 tent. They treated me extremely well - giving me to drink and covering me in their sleeping-bags, Iñaki reported. "The wind was so strong, I though the tent was going to be blown off the mountain - with me and the three Peruvian climbers inside. Next morning I proceeded down and left them there - stuck due to wind on their own summit push.
Days later two of the Peruvian team members also reached Shishas main summit - setting the total score of a mere three summits on Shisha in fall 2006 until a Portuguese team one month later closed the season with a final victory - tragically at the price of one of team mate's life.
Shortly after his descent, Iñaki sent ExplorersWeb a short video clip he recorded at arrival on the summit. Almost out of breath, Iñaki says in Spanish: "Shisha's summit!" Then, moving the camera, he adds: "There is the foresummit (Shisha Central)."
It was a sweet moment for Iñaki: He had crowned his numerous Shisha attempts by climbing alone, without oxygen, finding his own way and making the first Shisha summit of the 2006 season. The top also added number 11 to his list of 14, 8000ers.
Iñaki Ochoa's Shisha climb stays in our memory for courage, determination, persistence, and self reliance.
By their performance, the awarded expeditions have proved themselves outstanding in all or most of the following:
- Self reliance
- Respect towards competition
An additional 4 expeditions have received a special mention award:
Japanese K2 kids Yuka and Tatsuya
Serap Jangbu - 14 x 8000ers, the Sherpas' way
Colin Angus and Julie Wafaei: Human-powered circumnavigation
Borge Ousland, Mike Horn: North Pole unsupported through the Arctic night
More about Iñaki:
The resulting variation is named Lorpen-Diario de Navarra after his sponsors. (Ed. Note: The route followed by Ochoa differs from the Normal ascent route only from C3, and thus is a variation, not a new line up the mountain).
Shisha was in fact Iñakis second 8000er this year - he summited Manaslu (normal route) together with Jorge Egocheaga on April 30, at 10.45 am local time, this year. The climbers topped out after a 27 hours (15 of climbing) ascent from BC (4.850 meters). Climbing without fixed ropes, they started out from BC and reached Camp II (7.000 meters) in 6 hours and 45 minutes. They began the final push on the following morning at 02.30 am and reached the summit 8 hours and 15 minutes later.
Iñaki Ochoa de Olza has Kangchenjunga, Dhaulagiri and Annapurna left for the complete list of 14, 8000ers. In addition to his 11 summits, Iñaki also has summited Cho Oyu twice more, plus done Shisha central and the foresummit of Broad peak.
Ochoa was born in Pamplona, Spain on May 29, 1967. He had his first experience on an 8000+ meter peak, Kangchenjunga, at age 22. He has since taken part in over 30 Himalayan expeditions and also worked as high altitude cameraman and guide.
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