Tribute to Inaki Ochoa. Podziękowania dla ratowników. /Version english and polish/

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ExWeb’s tribute to Inaki Ochoa: When good men die. 6inaki2.jpg

We want wild adventure, but go on guided trips. We want a lake-side cottage; but buy a large house in suburbia. We dream of a husky-wolf, but get a lap-dog. We shovel our fist in our mouth; and go through life unheard.

That’s why it is so difficult to lose a man like Inaki.

Everyone had met Inaki Ocha de Olza once. Contrary to many of his breed, he mingled with everyone, across borders and language barriers. Those who went up for him did it not because he had climbed 12, 8000ers. They did it because he was Inaki.

A man who did what he wanted, and said what he pleased. Inaki’s courage extended beyond mountains, and his heart exactly made him loved a bit more than others.

Mountains, friends, and freedom.

We went on to exploration in the polar areas and on the oceans, moved to US and started ExplorersWeb. We wanted to change a few things in the world of adventure; and provide an alternative to the prevailing journalism covering famous names and braggy or snobbish individuals over true achievement. 8inaki8.jpg

The site came as a result of many debates in camps with our fellow adventurers – and climbers just like Inaki. We wanted to be seen for what we did; not for whom we knew or for playing cheap tricks for fools.

For Inaki Kangchenjunga, his first Himalayan giant, had set his priorities straight already back in 1990: “with ‘love for life and freedom’ being on top, and ‘money’ on the bottom,” he said:

“Kangchenjunga was, to me, an awakening in the Zen sense of the word. I realized for the first time, and strongly, that there was a path ahead of me, and I only had to follow it, without setting up obstacles, without fear, without regrets. It was much easier than what people may think, and I never looked back.”

In spite of several attempts, Inaki didn’t summit Kang. In fact, after Annapurna, Kangchenjunga was to be his “last” peak, and he wanted to climb it with Nives and Romano.

“It will not be the same without him,” the couple had said about Inaki who was injured and unable to join their Makalu winter attempt. When in turn Nives was hurt on Makalu, Inaki countered: “I feel like waiting till Nives recovers to share Kangchenjunga with them, because friendship is much more meaningful than mountains,” he said.

The (lack of) fame. 5inaki-help300new.JPG

Inaki was a fast climber. He summited many of his 12, 8000ers in speed ascents; and Shisha alone via a new route variation, in conditions that made everyone else turn back. Still he got little attention. Asked why, Inaki said: “I think my name does not sound Slovenian enough!!… How about ‘New route on Shisha Pangma, solo and in 13 hours, by ex-communist ugly powerhorse Iñakek Ochoovich’? :)”

Inaki was referring to prestigious climbing awards inclined to favor obscure climbs made by cool-looking individuals with exotic names, but his stunt in 2003 as professional/sponsored climber had already made him reject this kind of career in any case. “Most of the general media does not have the education or knowledge to understand what is worthy of attention or not,” he said. “Most of the time they cover only fatal accidents or Everest summiteers.”

The best climbers.

While speed is a way to climb safely; on the 8000ers the only important thing is to stay alive, “the rest is secondary,” Inaki said.

Still, he was awed when Jorge Egocheaga descended all the way from the summit of Manaslu to Base Camp in under four hours. His own speed climb on Dhaula (in a single, very windy 24 hour push “Kazakh style”) was Inaki’s tribute to Anatoli Boukreev, who made the fastest climb on the peak ever in 1995 (17 hours and 15 minutes).

Inaki had in fact been invited to the climber’s fatal Annapurna winter climb. “He was The Man, and some of us learned a whole lot from him,” Inaki said. “Now we can wink an eye and say, ‘Toli, we are following your tracks’…”

Inaki climbed seven of his 8,000m-plus peaks in this light and fast style; with Shisha Pangma leaving him “as finished as my body and mind can be, and took me to a place inside myself that I had never been.” (He sent the first video to ExWeb straight after.)

Once getting a taste of the swift climbing style, Inaki would not change it. While there was just one Anatoli, Inaki said, three of the fastest Himalaya mountaineers in the world today are Denis Urubko, Jorge Egocheaga and Joby Ogwyn.

He admired all mountaineers who were strong, honest and dedicated; and still trying to find their own limits: Simone, Nives, Romano, Denis, Stremfelj, Kozjec, Prezelj, the Russians, the Kazakhs, Hamor, Egocheaga, Morawski, Kopold, Gerlinde and Ralf, House, Iñurrategi, Kammerlander, Steck, the Pou brothers, Zabalza… “exactly the same life as Lafaille and Boukrev and some others (gone, but not forgotten) had,” Inaki said.

He tolerated no criticism of his mates: “Talk is cheap at the bar,” he snapped. “There will always be people who prefer to just watch, and talk, rather than climb, and so…shut up already.”

To live forever.7inaki.jpg

We refused to accept the end. As soon as it became known that Inaki was in trouble, a tremendous rescue attempt took off. Folks all over the world joined hands in the efforts; kept on edge night and day while climbers in Nepal threw themselves onto Annapurna’s south wall as if it were a hiking peak. The urgency, and the wish for Inaki to live made heroes out of ordinary men; in turn presenting a beautiful example to the rest of the world.

Back at the computers, no one could sleep. Emails jetted between South America, Europe, and US with information about the weather, the logistics, and latest from the climbers on the peak. “Is nobody sleeping in this world?” we wrote in our last email to the massive thread of names. “We are in Colorado, it’s past midnight and we don’t sleep either,” came the last reply – from Don Bowie’s folks.

We had just got word that Inaki’s state was worsening, and now even folks in Pakistan joined in trying the impossible mission of getting “the fearless four” choppers to Nepal.

We stepped out into the night for a bit of fresh air. The sky was lit by a full moon. “Wonder if Inaki can see it too,” I sulked to Tom. “Whatever happens, this rescue attempt is his legacy. Besides, Annapurna south face is a worthy place to go,” I added.

Still, we were hopeful – a bit elated even – things were moving fast now, and climbers were closing in on Inaki’s little tent.

Back inside the house, Tom glanced at the latest Skype message on the computer. “Oh no,” he said. A cold drift swept through the room. The flickering note was from Lena at RussianClimb:

“I’m sorry, guys. Just spoke to Sergey. We were too late. Inaki didn’t make it.”

It took over a week before I could write my story. Going over all his interviews with us, I had my last chat with Inaki. Here are two lines that I think he would have liked to leave us with:

“Finish or not, walking my path in the Himalayas has been fulfilling, teaching, humbling and very much worth it. Let’s just keep on doing it; let’s climb!!”

[This story was written by ExplorersWeb founder Tina Sjogren.]

Inaki Ochoa de Olza had only Kangchenjunga and Annapurna left for the complete list of 14, 8000ers. In addition to his 12 summits, Inaki also had summited Cho Oyu twice more, plus Shisha central and the fore summit of Broad peak.

In 2006, Inaki summited Manaslu and then Shisha Pangma main in less than 15 hours. Climbing alone in conditions that had turned away all other mountaineers, he followed a new variation from C3. For that climb he was awarded among ExplorersWeb’s Best of 2006.

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 had since taken part in over 30 Himalayan expeditions and also worked as high altitude cameraman and guide.

Ochoa always climbed with long time friends who shared his criteria: ascending without O2 or Sherpas and minimizing the use of fixed ropes.

Inaki liked writing, music (Manu Chao, punk rock as well as the classis – Van Morrison, Credence, Leonard Cohen, Joan Baez, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan) and literature – Inaki had more than 500 climbing books at home. His all time favorite movie was Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” and his favorite book was “A confederacy of dunces” by John Kennedy Toole.

Inaki leaves behind a set of parents he loved, and two younger brothers he admired.

Full Story

** Inaki’s website : –

Navarra’s goverment has acorded to give all 14 climbers, who were in rescue team on Annapurna and to Inaki Ochoa the Gold Medal to the Sport Merit, he most important honor in the region sport. The climbers are Romanians Horia Colibasanu, Alex Gavan and Mihnea Radulescu; Swiss Ueli Steck and Simon Anthamatten; Russians Alexey Bolotov and Serguey Bogomolov; Kazakh Denis Urubko; Canadian Don Bowie; Polish Robert Szymczak and five Sherpas: Pemba Ongchu Sherpa, Ongchu Sherpa, Wangchu Sherpa and Chhiring Finjo Sherpa.

Powyżej podziękowania od rządu Navarry dla himalaistów, którzy brali udział w akcji ratowniczej na Annapurnie.

Niestety mimo wysiłków ratowników nie udało się uratować himalaisty – Inaki Ochoa.

Dramat Inaki Ochoa de Olza – list w podziękowaniu za zasługi Roberta Szymczaka.

Drodzy przyjaciele z Polski,

Nazywam się Pablo Ochoa de Olza i mój brat Inaki zginął w dramatycznych okolicznościach na Annapurnie w ostatni piątek (zob. Dramat na Annapurnie). Byłaby to tylko kolejna śmierć na tej górze, gdyby nie jeden szczegół: 15 osób z różnych krajów przeprowadziło akcję ratunkową, która na długo pozostanie w naszej pamięci. Ta historia będzie zawsze przykładem odwagi i współpracy między ludźmi, solidarności i dobrej woli. Jest to historia wielkich ludzi. Piszę te słowa po to, aby wytłumaczyć wam, że polski doktor Robert Szymczak, powinien być traktowany jak prawdziwy bohater.

W poniedziałek 19 maja, Inaki Ochoa de Olza, będąc na wyprawie z Aleksjejem Bołotowem i Horią Colibasanu, dostał obrzęku mózgu w obozie 4 i natychmiast rozpoczęła się niesamowita, wysokogórska akcja ratunkowa. Rosjanie, Kazachowie, Szwajcarzy, Rumuni, Polacy, Nepalczycy, Kanadyjczycy i Hiszpanie rozpoczęli wyścig z czasem.

W zeszłym tygodniu miałem, po raz pierwszy w życiu, szansę porozmawiać z Robertem w Kathmandu. Wytłumaczyłem powagę sytuacji i zapytałem go: “Czy możesz pomóc?” Odpowiedział: “Tak” – było to takie proste i takie nieskomplikowane. Nie musiał się nad niczym zastanawiać, nie szukał żadnych wymówek, nie zgłaszał żadnych zastrzeżeń, po prostu powiedział “Tak” i wskoczył do helikoptera.

Polski doktor Robert Szymczak, wraz z rosyjskimi wspinaczami Sergiejem Bogomołowem i Aleksjejem Bołotowem, Szwajcarami Ueli Steck i Simonem Anthamaten, Rumunami Horia Colibasanu, Minhea Radulescu i Alexem Gavan, Kanadyjczykami Nancy Morin i Donem Bowie oraz Nepalczykami Pema Ongchu Sherpa, Pemba Ongchu Sherpa, Ongchu Sherpa, Wangchu Sherpa i Chhiring Finjo Sherpa rozpoczęli wspinaczkę. Akcja była koordynowana przez lokalną grupę wsparcia z Pamplona (Hiszpania), utworzoną przez Koldo Aldaz, Jorge Nagore, Cristina Orofino, Koldo Martinez oraz przeze mnie. Nima Naru Sherpa dostarczał środków i włożył w całą akcję dużo wysiłku z Kathmandu, a Javier Corripio pomagał z Austrii, dostarczając specjalistycznej prognozy pogody. Wiele innych osób zaoferowało swoją pomoc na górze, w tym Maksut Żumajew i inni – nie licząc na żadne wynagrodzenie. Po prostu znali Inaki.

Za wszystkie ich wysiłki rząd Navarry nagrodził ich Złotym Medalem za Osiągnięcia Sportowe. Do poniedziałku jedynie 12 osób zostało wyróżnionych tym odznaczeniem, następnie przyznano dwa kolejne medale: jeden dla Inaki i jeden dla jego Grupy Ratowniczej, włączając w to Roberta.

Ten list został napisany, aby uhonorować syna Polski, Roberta Szymczaka, dzielnego człowieka, który nie zawahał się zaryzykować swojego życia, swoich projektów, swojego zdrowia, aby spróbować osiągnąć niemożliwe. Poświęcił wszystko, aby pomóc osobie, której nawet za dobrze nie znał. Przekroczył punkt, w którym nawet odważni zawracają. Dawał nam nadzieję, każdym swoim kolejnym krokiem, podejmowanym pomimo trudnych warunków pogodowych i zagrożenia lawinami.

Chciałem złożyć gratulacje rodzinie Roberta, jego przyjaciołom, jego ojczyźnie, że byli w stanie wychować takiego człowieka. Powinniście być z niego dumni.

Z poważaniem1robert_szymczak.jpg
Pablo Ochoa de Olza
tłum. Yankes

Robert Szymczak.

Lekarz specjalizujący się w medycynie ratunkowej (Katedra i Klinika Medycyny Ratunkowej Akademii Medycznej w Gdańsku), himalaista. Uczestnik (jako wspinacz i lekarz) eksploracyjnych oraz sportowych wypraw wysokogórskich: 2006/2007 – Nanga Parbat, 2006 – Passu Sar, 2005 – Lobuche East, Pik Lenina, Chan Tengri. 11 maja 2008 roku zdobył Dhaualagiri. Członek International Society for Mountain Medicine oraz Wilderness Medical Society. Prowadzi firmę MedEverest.

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One Response

  1. Thanks a lot for your article, I´m now crying remembering my best cousin and godfather.
    Only a note, he had three brothers, not two, please change it.


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