Nepal | July 16, 2020

14 eight-thousander peaks in six months

Rajan Pokhrel
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Kathmandu, October 30

A Nepali climber has set the world record scaling all 14 mountains above 8,000 metres in just over six months.

Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja, 36, along with his team of Project Possible, successfully stood atop Mt Shishapangma yesterday completing his 14th eight-thousander.

“Nobody believed this could be done. When I first talked about it, people made jokes about me. There was no selfishness in this project, the project was never about race, it was truly about human endeavour,” said Purja.

The Purja-led team comprising four other members —Mingma Gyabu Sherpa, Gesman Tamang, Gyalzen Sherpa and Halung Dorchi Sherpa — scaled the 8,027-metre peak at around 8:58am, according to climbers. “I have done it in six months and six days,” the former UK Special Forces member said upon arrival in Kathmandu from Tibet this afternoon.

The current records for such speed attempt are seven years, 10 months and six days by Korean climber Kim Chang-ho in 2013 and seven years, 11 months and 14 days by Polish climber Jerzy Kukuczka in 1987.

Purja and his team obtained a special climbing permit from China Tibet Mountaineering Association to complete his third phase of Project Possible. China has, however, closed Shishapangma for other climbers this season.

Purja, who climbed Mt Manaslu as his 13th eight-thousander in just 158 days last month, has already set multiple world records in the history of mountain climbing. “Everything in life is possible with determined approach and positive mindset,” the climbing legend said.

Along with Purja, renowned climber Mingma Gyabu Sherpa has also become the youngest climber to complete all 14 peaks at the age of 30 years. He also holds the world record in speed climbing by successfully scaling Mt Everest and K2 in just 61 days in 2018.

Purja began his ‘Project Possible’ in April to complete all 14 peaks by November. He first climbed Mt Annapurna on April 23. “I have launched this project to promote the homeland of the Gurkhas among the 8000m mountains, and also to promote tourism with the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign,” Purja, who received a hero’s welcome at Kathmandu  airport, said.

According to him, during the journey, he was involved in four unplanned rescues on different mountains.

Purja was the first Gurkha to join the elite Special Boat Service and already has multiple world records for speed climbing to his name.

It takes great vision, incredible leadership, a focus on the detail and the passion to bring people together to achieve the unthinkable.

“The journey of 14/7 has tested us all the way through at many levels. Together we have been through so much, we climbed not only as a team but as brothers with one sole goal to make the impossible possible pushing human limitations to the next level.”

Stakeholders termed Purja’s success the pride of the nation. “Purja has pushed the limits of human potential in mountaineering,” Dandu Raj Ghimire, director general at the Department of Tourism, commented.

With the success of this project, Purja said he wanted to provide important opportunities for local Sherpas and guides to forge a career in the mountains.

“I also want to give back and showcase the abilities of Nepali climbers — not just as supporters of Western mountaineers, but as brilliant mountaineers in their own right,” Purja added.

The mountaineering world also believes that Purja’s project is one of a kind which tested human endurance to its limit. “Purja has established a paradigm shift in the perception of human potential,” Mingma Sherpa, the first South Asian climber to complete all 14 peaks, said.

Purja’s summit record

  1. Shishapangma – October 29
  2. Manaslu – September 27
  3. Cho Oyu – September 23
  4. Broad Peak – July 26
  5. K2 – July 24
  6. Gasherbrum II – July 18
  7. Gasherbrum I – July 15
  8. Nanga Parbat – July 03
  9. Makalu – May 24
  10. Everest – May 22
  11. Lhotse – May 22
  12. Kanchenjunga – May 15
  13. Dhaulagiri – May 12
  14. Annapurna – April 23

A version of this article appears in print on October 31, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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