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FCG International Sports 2005: Juanito Oiarzabal

 “For representing the purest values of sports in the essential definition of what he is. To the innate search of humankind for new achievements,  he adds the anxiety to overcome the challenges of nature and teamwork as an example of solidarity. Oiarzabal is a constant example of sports excellence, even at the risk of his own physical integrity.  His progress and growth to become a world-level sportsman, has not only afftected his human condition, but his profile as a gentle and close person has become familiar to Spanish people who have heard him. Juanito Oiarzabal talks of his achievements in the words of a man born on a Basque farm who later climbed the 14 eight-thousanders of our planet and who is still considering increasing the number of his summit climbs in spite of his his physical diminshing.”According to the jury that met in Valladolid on June 24, 2005, chaired by Mr. Gregorio Parra García;


Coordinator of Sports Editing at TVE [Televisión Española; and made up by the following members, Mr. Juan María Gastaca Sobrado, Deputy Editor of  ABC Newspaper; Mr. Raúl González Gutiérrez, Captain of the Valladolid Handball Team; Mr. Amalio Moratalla Anguas, Deputy Editor of Marca Sports Newspaper; Mr. José Miguel Ortega Bariego, Head of Sports at RNE [Radio Nacional de España] in Castilla León.




Juan Oiarzabal

Commonly known as Juanito Oiarzabal, Mr. Juan Oiarzabal was born in Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain) on 30th March 1956.  having studied at the Jesús Obrero Professional School in Vitoria-Gasteiz, he started working in an electrical installation company.

As an amateur sportsman, Mr. Oiarzabal did sports gymnastics for some time.  He also did speleology but due to the influence of his father and some friends, he took up mountaineering.  He soon stood out for his physical abilities that led him to undertaken even harder ascents on all ground types.


At the age of 24 he set up his own small business.  This “independence” allowed him to combine work with his favourite pastime, which is mountaineering.


The Himalayas

His success in the Himalayas is well-known, but what only the experts know is that before starting off on those courses, he had already accumulated a curriculum which is among the best of Euskadi, all of this, before he started his career as an eight-thousander because after that he took off and became part of the world elite.


He undertook ascents on all the Spanish mountain masses, on the hardest routes.  Among his accomplishments he even has some undiscovered routes of great relevance.

With respect to the Alps, the reference of the most-demanding mountaineering –from which the generic denomination “Alpinist” comes from-, Juanito Oiarzabal has undertaken the most renowned ascents, for the difficulty they entailed.


In other continents, he has climbed in North America, South America and Africa and returning to the Himalyas, it is here that he carries out his expeditions with the greatest ease, which may seem obvious after 35 expeditions over 23 years.



Overall world record for eight-thousand meter ascents: 21 summits. Summarizing the most outstanding achievements of his curriculum, we can highlight that he i the sixth man to reach 14 summits of over eight thousand meters, but at the same time he s the fourth in reaching them without the use of artificial oxygen.  He has now reached 21 summits of over eight thousand meters, the current world record.



1984 / McKinley (6,194 m) - West  Buttres Route



1983 / Aconcagua (6,957 m) – 5th world winter ascent (He has accredited 16 ascents to the Aconcagua, as a “guide”)



1988 / Mount Kenia – Diamond Corridor



1982 / Kangchuntse (Makalu II) (7,640 m). Altitude reached: 7,200 m
1988 / Kangchenjunga (8,598 m). North side. Altitude reached: 8,000 m
1989 / Makalu (8,465 m). West Pillar. Altitude reached: 8,350 m
1990 / Everest (8,848 m). Suthwet side. Altitude reached: 8,300 m
1991 / Kangchenjunga (8,598 m). North side. Altitude reached: 8,400 m
1993 / Everest (8,848 m). South-Southeast Route - crest. SUMMIT
1995 / Makalu (8,465 m). Normal route. SUMMIT
1995 / Lhotse (8,516 m). Normal Route. SUMMIT
1996 / Kanchengjunga (8,586 m). North side. British route. SUMMIT
1997 / Manaslu (8,163 m). Normal route. SUMMIT
1998 / Dhaulagiri (8,167 m). Normal route. SUMMIT
1999 / Annapurna (8,091 m.). German route. SUMMIT
2002 / Makalu (8,465 m). West pillar. Altitude reached: 7,600 m
2004 / Ama Dablam (6,856 m). Southwestern sharp edge. SUMMIT



1987 / Gasherbrun II (8,035 m). . SUMMIT
1987 / Hidden Peak (8,068 m). Mesner route. Altitude reached: 6,800 m
1992 / Nanga Parbat (8,125 m). Kinshofer route. SUMMIT
1994 / K.2 - Chogori (8,611 m). Tomo Cessen route (1st integral). SUMMIT
1995 / Broad Peak (8,047 m). Normal route. SUMMIT
1997 / Hidden Peak (8,068 m). Japanese Corridor. SUMMIT
2003 / Broad Peak (8,047 m). Winter. Altitude reached: 6,900 m.
2003 / Gasherbrun II (8,035m.) Normal route. SUMMIT
2003 / Hidden Peak (8,068 m). Japanese Corridor . SUMMIT
2004/ K.2 - Chogori (8,611 m). SUMMIT



1985 / Cho-Oyu (8,201 m). Normal route. SUMMIT
1998 / Shisha Pangma (8,046 m). Southwest side. British route. SUMMIT
2000 / Everest (8,848 m). North side. Altitude reached: 8,700 m (without O2)
2001 / Everest (8,848 m). North side. SUMMIT (without O2)
2002 / Cho-Oyu (8,201 m). Normal route. SUMMIT
2003 / Cho-Oyu (8,201 m). Normal route. SUMMIT (23 September)
2003 / Cho-Oyu (8,201 m). Normal route. SUMMIT (5 October)



2000 / Crossing between the localities of Narsasoak and Kangarlosoak (650 kms) on a sleigh, pulled by a kite.


CHINA: (Autonomous region of  Xinjiang)

2000 / TaklaMakan desert crossing, (desert, within the Gobi desert). 800 km crossing, only with the help of camels.



2001 / Elbruz (5,642 m) Normal route. Winter. The highest European summit.



o    In his role as an expert, he has participated in several mountain rescue activities, receiving recognition for them.

o    He is a Member of Honor of different mountaineering clubs.

o    He is a Member of the Basque Mountaineering Club.

o    He is a climbing professor.

o    He is a professor of the Basque Mountaineering School (EVAM)

o    Mountaineering Guide, Membrer of the Internacional Union of Mountaineering Guide Associations (UIAGM).

o    Golden Insignia from the Basque Mountaineering Federation.

o    Member of the “Comité de Patronage du Cinquantenaire de l’Annapurna” / 2000.

o    Member of Honor of the Spanish Geography Society.

o    Nominated for the “Prince of Asturias” Award for Sports in 1999.

o    Finalist for the “Prince of Asturias” Award for Sports in 2001.

o    According to the “Mundo Deportivo” Newspaper, he is among the 20 most important Spanish sportsmen of the century.

o    Golden Medal for Sports Merit, awarded by the Spanish government in 1999.

o    On the proposal of the editors of  Basque jeans of communication, the Basque Regional Government awarded him the distinction of “Universal Basque Citizen” in the year 2000. That year the Jesuit, Ion Sobrino (standard-bearer of the freedom theology in El Salvador), also won the award, which had previously been won by Etxenike, Oteiza and Chillida.

o    Member of Honor of the Spanish Exploration and Adventure Cub.

o    The sports newspaper Marca awarded him its maximum prize:  Marca de Leyenda [Legendary Mark], a distinction that only a handful of elite sportsmen around the world have.

o     In recognition of his sports achievements, he has been officially received by outstanding officials and personalities:  The Vitoria-Gasteiz City Council, Diputación Foral de Alava [The Alava Regional Authority], the Lehendakari [President] of the Basqwue Regional Government, the Spanish prime Minister, Mr. José María Azna, and HRH Juan Carlos de Borbón.

o    He was Guest of Honor at the activities organised by tyhe French Government on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the conquering of Annapurna, invited by its Prsident  Mr. Jacques Chirac.  He was also  a member of the activities Committee.



·         “Buscando las catorce estrellas” [Searching for the Fourteen Stars], Editorial Lur, 1997.

·         “Los 14 ochomiles de Juanito Oiarzabal” [The Fourteen Eight-Thousanders of Juanito Oiarzabal], Ediciones Desnivel, 1999.

·         “Conversaciones con Juanito Oiarzabal” [Conversations with Juanito Oiarzabal], Ediciones Desnivel, 2001.

·         “El Everest de Juanito Oiarzabal” [Juanito Oiarzabal’s Everest], Ediciones Desnivel, 2002.



·         He has undertaken 16 audiovisual productions that have been used to promote mountaineering in the province and state, ofering prestige to this sport at all levels and, of course, setting a high standard for both Vitoria-Gasteiz and Alava.

·         WIth TVE [Televisión Española], he filmed his ascent of Annapurna for the “Al filo de lo imposible” [On the Edge of the Impossible] television program.

·         He has also recorded many programs, such as the one he did on Everest, recreating the story of Mallory and Irving who disappeared in 1924 while they tried to reach the summit.