Nims Purja does it
Nepal’s Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja has performed an extraordinary and unprecedented feat of climbing all the world’s 14th highest mountains within a seven month period by scaling his last peak, Mt Xixapangma in China on Tuesday. The only reason he could not complete the exploit earlier was because of visa delays, and rescuing stranded climbers along the way.
The former Gurkha Special Forces Commando in the British Navy set out on his quest in April 2019, and climbed all the world’s peaks above 8,000m – including Mt Everest, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, Makalu in Nepal this spring before moving on to K2 in the Karakoram in Pakistan.
Read also: Nirmal Purja on is viral Everest photo
Mt Xixapangma (8.027m) was his last and 14th peak, but for that he had to overcome a hurdle perhaps more difficult than the climb itself: securing a Chinese visa to visit the restricted region of Tibet. It was a nail-biting finish before he finally got the permit two weeks ago and set off for the mountain which is only 70km north of Kathmandu.
His feat has been described as the greatest achievement in mountaineering history for endurance and stamina – he has done in 7 months what the previous record holder, Korean climber Kim Chang-ho, took eight years to climb.
Purja, 36, crowdfunded his climbs through Project Possible and is also raising money for charities, including for the welfare of Gurkha veterans and their families and the group Chora Chori which runs a shelter for trafficked children in Kathmandu.
Most people had not heard about Nims Purja’s audacious attempt to climb all the world’s highest peaks in record time until his famous photograph of the ‘traffic jam’ on Mt Everest this spring went viral on the Internet.
In an interview with Nepali Times after his Everest climb and before heading off to Pakistan in April, Purja said: “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.” (Read full interview below)
Besides climbing all those mountains, Purja also managed to carry out some high altitude rescues of stranded climbers on Annapurna and Kanchenjunga this spring.
Originally from Myagdi district in Nepal, Purja 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 job, so he quit in March 2019 to begin his climbs.
He climbed Annapurna I (23 April), Dhaulagiri (12 May) Kanchenjunga (16 May) both Everest and Lhotse (23 May) and Makalu (25 May). Climbing those 6 peaks within 31 days was itself a record. Then he went on to climb Nanga Parbat (6 July), Gasherbrum I (15 July), Gasherbrum II (18 July), K2 (24 July) Broad Peak(26 July). He came back in the autumn to climb Manaslu (23 September) and Cho Oyu (27 September).
Nepali Times: What is your objective in climbing 14 mountains above 8,000m in 7 months?
Nims Purja: 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.
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.