Nirmal Purja on his viral Everest photo

Nirmal Purja Magar of Myagdi is attempting to set a record by climbing all 14 mountains above 8,000m in 7 months. To date, he summitted Annapurna I (23 April), Dhaulagiri (12 May) Kanchenjunga (16 May) both Everest and Lhotse (23 May) and Makalu (25 May). Climbing the 6 peaks within 31 days is itself a record.

Magar, 35, joined the British Army Special Forces in 2003, the first Gurkha to do so. But climbing mountains was more important to him than a well-paying. So he quit on March 2019 to begin climbs which he is doing for the charity, Project Possible.

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Magar's photo (above) of the 'traffic jam' on Mt Everest on May 25 went viral, with many prominent international media using the image without credit. On Twitter, Magar expressed outrage over the unauthorised use of the photo, claiming he risked his life to get take it. He was disappointed agencies used the photo without credit or payment at a time when his project needs funding.

Nepali Times talked to Magar as he descended from Mt Everest and before heading off to Pakistan.

Nepali Times: What is your objective in climbing 14 mountains above 8,000m in 7 months?

I want to show human capacity, I am not climbing to set any records. My competition is only with myself. I was born in a small village in Myagdi. I want to prove that no matter what your background, you can do things considered impossible if you have the right thinking.

My second objective is to raise awareness of the impacts of climate change. In 2014, me and my team had melted the snow at Ama Dablam base camp to cook food. Last year there was no snow there. Thirdly, I want to help promote tourism in Nepal, contribute to the success of Visit Nepal year 2020, and be engaged in social work.

It is a very ambitious task.

In 2017, I did not feel tired even after I climbed Everest, Makalu and Lhotse in 5 days. I ended up walking for 18 hours after the helicopter could not come to Makalu base camp due to bad weather. That was when I thought that I could do something more on the mountains for charity.

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Why Project Possible?

I wanted to show that anything is possible with positive thoughts and proper management. My life experiences have also taught me that anything is possible with patience and determination.

What kind of reactions have you been getting to the campaign?

Even respected mountaineers have told me that it is not possible to scale 14 mountains in 7 months. But I have now done six in 31 days. When we started climbing Annapurna, we had doubts. But then it got easier.

Your photo of the traffic jam on Everest led to negative comments about climbing management in Nepal.

Yes, the traffic jam happened because all climbers wanted to get to the top at the same time. The crowd must be managed. For example, we climbed Annapurna in April. Maybe Everest climbing season can be opened up earlier too. Nature is for everyone, and climbing mountains shouldn't be reserved for the rich.

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