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ExWeb interview - Iñaki Ochoa: Ready for the second round
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Apr 2, 2005 18: 24 EST
Previously published Mar 30, 2005 11: 04 EST After surviving an avalanche during his solo attempt on Shisha Pangma last week, Iñaki Ochoa is back home nursing his shoulder. But it's only a few days rest; April 7 Inaki is flying back to Nepal where he has got a permit to climb Dhaulagiri and Annapurna.

ExplorersWeb caught up with Iñaki to check how things are going.

ExWeb: Hey Inaki, your accident on Shisha sounded a bit scary to us!

Iñaki: If you were frightened, just try to figure out how scared I got when I started sliding down the slope! After all, I was very lucky, because the place I got caught was not so steep, there were no obstacles on my way and the avalanche was not a big one. However, speeding down a slope on your back with your feet in the air is not exactly a great sensation.

ExWeb: How’s your shoulder?

Iñaki: Not that bad after all. I had it treated in Kathmandu. It was dislocated. The doctors put it back in its place and made some tests, seeing no further damage.

ExWeb: Aren’t you asking for a second opinion, to check the ligaments are ok?

Iñaki: Honestly, I am not changing my climbing plans so I don’t really want to know. I am just resting and the shoulder seems to be slowly recovering. That’s all I need: I’ll see how it will perform once on Dhaulagiri.

ExWeb: However, Dhaula it is just the first stage of a double-header. Right afterwards you’ll head for Annapurna…

Iñaki: Well, that’s true. I don’t feel under pressure at all though. Right now I am totally focused on Dhaulagiri. I am really looking forward to climbing such a beautiful mountain. Dhaula is one of those peaks where you expect to enjoy the climb.

Annapurna on the contrary, demands a different attitude. It is a very dangerous mountain. I am facing the challenge exactly like the Iñurrategi brothers did some years ago: Setting BC, studying the route, and climbing only if the snow conditions are relatively safe. Too many people have died up there.

ExWeb: I guess you can count on the opinion of the other teams up there…

Iñaki: Their opinion and perhaps their tracks! Mondinelli, Blanc and Kuntner are already there. I am sure they will try to climb as soon as possible and they could be already gone when we get there by May. If they’ve opened a track the climb could be easier. Otherwise, I have considered different options.

ExWeb: Options such as…?

Iñaki: Well, I met Piotr Pustelnik in Kathmandu. We had a chat and I told him that if I find too bad conditions on the north side, I might walk to the south side and join him. Piotr and company are staying there for the whole season. There are only four climbers and they need to fix the south side route. That’s a huge amount of work to do!

ExWeb: About shared work… There seems to be more and more climbers joining setting the Dhaula-Annapurna double-header as their goal for this spring. Did you know that?

Iñaki: Yes, it is surprising! Ivan Vallejo, Nacho Orbiz, Fernando Rubio, and perhaps more climbers are now sharing the permit… However my climbing team consists in the Italians (Romano Benet, Nives Meroi, Luca Vuerich) German Pete Guggemos and I. We have already planned our climbing strategy and gear. I can’t tell about the rest.

ExWeb: Now that everything has sunk in, what are your thoughts on Shisha Pangma?

Iñaki: The fact is that even without the ‘avalanche issue’ I could have not reached the summit. The mountain was too overloaded with snow. But I had to try and I am glad I did.

Shisha Pangma’s solo ascent was Iñaki’s first goal this season. The attempt was aborted when Ochoa was caught in an avalanche during the summit bid.

Next week he will join Pete Guggemos and Italians Nives Meroi, Romano Benet, and Luca Vuerich to climb Dhaulagiri. They will then move to Annapurna’s North side where he will share a permit with American Ed Viesturs.

Iñaki Ochoa de Olza (born in Pamplona, Spain, 1967) is currently involved in completing the 14 8000+, having already summited nine of them: Cho Oyu three times (1993, 2001, and 2004), K2 (2004), Makalu (2004), GI (1996), GII (1996), Lhotse (1999), Everest (2001), Nanga Parbat (2003), and Broad Peak (2003). He has also summited Shisha Pangma Central (1995).

Image of Iñaki in pain after escaping from the avalanche, courtesy of Iñaki Ochoa/Navarra8000.
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