Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja likely to try Mt Gyachung Kang as China closes Shishapangma

Kathmandu, September 27

A Nepali climber has successfully scaled 13 peaks above 8,000 metres in just over five months, setting multiple world records in the history of mountain climbing.

Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja, 36, made it to the top of Mt Manaslu, the world’s eighth highest peak, completing his 13th eight-thousander in 158 days,  early this morning, according to the base camp officials.

Purja, along with his team, stood atop the 8,163-metre mountain at around 7:50am, said Tashi Lakpa Sherpa, director at Seven Summit Treks.

The former UK’s Special Forces member began his ‘Project Possible’ in April to complete all 14 peaks by November. On September 23, Purja climbed Mt Cho Oyu, the world’s eighth highest peak completing his 12th eight-thousander.

After summiting Mt Manaslu, Purja needs to climb Mt Shishapangma, the last mountain in his list of 14, in Tibet. Dandu Raj Ghimire, director general at the Department of Tourism under the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, said the 14th peak was in China and it depended on the northern neighbour to let Purja climb it.

If he succeeds in scaling Mt Shishapangma by November he would have conquered all 14 peaks in seven months. Mountaineering world believes that Purja’s project is one of a kind which will test the human endurance to its limit, according to Ghimire.

China has, however, shut Mt Shishapangma this year fearing protests in the Tibet region. “We have not heard from China yet,” Ghimire said, adding that they had sent a numerous requests to Chinese authorities to secure a climbing permit for Purja to scale Mt Shishapangma. “China won’t be opening Mt Shishapangma this year,” a renowned climber, who visited Tibet last week for Mt Cho Oyu expedition, said quoting officials at China’s Mountaineering Association.

Purja, however, hoped that China would consider his request. “I want to bring a paradigm shift in the perception of human potential by climbing all 14 mountains in seven months,” Purja, who has spent 16 years in the British Army, said.

The current records for such 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 has pushed the limits of human potential in mountaineering,” Mingma Sherpa, the first South Asian to scale all 14 peaks, said, adding that Purja embodied great moral strength and he was truly an inspiration to all. “His record will remain unbeatable for decades,” he claimed.

Purja arrived at the Manaslu base camp late in the evening, and said if China refused him permit to scale Shishapangma(8,013m) this season he might go for the 15th tallest peak — Gyachung Kang, that lies between Cho Oyu and Everest at 7,952 metres.

Purja was the first Gurkha to join the elite Special Boat Service and already has three world records for speed climbing to his name. “During my project, I have also been involved in four unplanned rescues in the high Himalayas in the spring season,” he told THT.

Purja, who hails from Myagdi, was the first Gurkha to climb Mt Everest while serving the British Military and holds multiple world records for the fastest ascent of double and triple header mountains in the above-8,000m category. He said he wanted to showcase the abilities of Nepali climbers — not just as supporters of western mountaineers, but as brilliant mountaineers.

Purja’s Summit Record:

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