Inaki Ochoa de Olza dies on Annapurna
Iñaki Ochoa de Olza

Iñaki Ochoa de Olza, born on May 29, 1967 in Pamplona, Navarre and passing away on May 23, 2008 in Annapurna, Nepal, was a skilled Spanish climber. Throughout his career, he participated in over thirty climbing expeditions in the Himalayas and served as a guide on more than 200 expeditions. Known for his impressive achievements, Ochoa de Olza successfully climbed 12 of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including a repeat ascent of Cho Oyu, all without the use of supplemental oxygen. He firmly stood against the use of oxygen in mountaineering, expressing his belief that relying on it made climbers more like astronauts or scuba divers than alpinists. Tragically, he succumbed to pulmonary edema in May 2008 while attempting to climb Annapurna, which would have been his 13th eight thousander.

Ochoa and his climbing partner, Horia Colibășanu, were making their way up to the peak of Annapurna when they were met with hazardous weather conditions, prompting them to stop their ascent. Additionally, Ochoa had sustained frostbite to his hands, further necessitating a pause in their climb. As they descended the mountain, Ochoa collapsed and experienced a seizure near Camp 4 on Annapurna. Following his family’s wishes, his body remains at an altitude of 7,400 meters on the mountain.

In the morning of May 23, 2008, the strong Spanish mountaineer Inaki Ochoa de Olza tragically lost his life on the South Face of Annapurna, one of the renowned 8000m peaks in the Himalayas. The news was revealed by the Spanish newspaper Diario de Navarra, detailing the mountaineer’s struggle at 7400m amidst unfavorable weather conditions. Ochoa’s health deteriorated rapidly due to brain damage and pulmonary edema, ultimately leading to his passing at 8.45 am. In a heartbreaking turn of events, Swissman Ueli Steck, who had brought medication, was unable to save him despite all efforts. Ochoa, a 40-year-old veteran climber, had recently returned from his 13th 8000m peak expedition without oxygen, only to face frostbite and unconsciousness at camp IV. With assistance from fellow mountaineers, he was escorted down to the camp before his condition worsened. Ochoa, born in Pamplona on May 29, 1967, had an impressive mountaineering record, conquering 12 of the 14 8000m peaks without supplemental oxygen. His adventurous spirit and dedication to climbing saw him through numerous Himalayan expeditions, solidifying his legacy as a revered figure in the mountaineering community.

Spanish mountaineer Inaki Ochoa de Olza tragically lost his life during an expedition to conquer Nepal’s Annapurna, a towering peak which stands at an impressive 8091 meters. The exact route Ochoa was attempting on the mountain remains unclear. Along with his climbing partner, Romanian Horia Colibasanu, they decided to turn back before reaching the summit due to treacherous conditions. While descending, Ochoa suffered a seizure and collapsed close to Camp 4. His condition was worsened by pulmonary edema, resulting in apparent brain damage. Despite efforts to rescue him and medical assistance given remotely by doctors at the Hospital of Navarre in Pamplona, Spain, Ochoa sadly passed away at 6:45 a.m. GMT.

Spanish climber Ochoa, a renowned mountaineer born in Pamplona on May 29, 1967, tragically lost his life at an altitude of 7400m after being abandoned due to precarious avalanche conditions on the south face of a peak. Ueli Steck, along with Simon Anthamatten, attempted a daring rescue mission from camp 4 with medications, but the harsh altitude and heavy snow made it impossible. Ochoa, a seasoned climber with over 30 Himalayan expeditions under his belt and 12 8000+ meter peaks conquered, remained semi-conscious for five nights before his passing. Known for his climbing philosophy, Ochoa once famously stated, “If you use oxygen, you are not an alpinist, you are more of an astronaut or a scuba diver.”

  1. Climbing Achievements
    • Completed his first climb over 8,000 meters by reaching the peak of Kangchenjunga at the age of 22.
    • Worked as a high-altitude guide and cameraman.
    • Accomplished a solo climb on a new route on Shishapangma in 2005.
  2. Philanthropic Goals
    • Aspired to raise funds to build:
      • An orphanage in Kathmandu, Nepal.
      • A children’s hospital in Pakistan.
      • A school in Dharamsala, India (home of the Tibetan exile community).
  3. Legacy
    • His philanthropic goals are continued through the Foundation Iñaki Ochoa de Olza – SOS HIMALAYA (
  4. Recognition
    • Awarded the Gold Medal of Sports Merit by the Government of Navarre.
    • All alpinists who contributed to his rescue were also recognized with the same award

Notable Ascents by Iñaki Ochoa de Olza

  1. Annapurna
  2. Cho Oyu (8,201 m): in 1993.
  3. Gasherbrum I (8,068 m): in 1996.
  4. Gasherbrum II (8,035 m): in 1996.
  5. Lhotse (8,516 m): in 1999.
  6. Mount Everest (8,848 m): in 2001.
  7. Nanga Parbat (8,125 m): in 2003.
  8. Broad Peak (8,046 m): in 2003.
  9. Makalu (8,463 m): in 2004.
  10. K2 (8,611 m): in 2004.
  11. Manaslu (8,163 m): in 2006.
  12. Shisha Pangma (8,027 m): in 2006.
  13. Dhaulagiri (8,167 m): in 2007.


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