Nepal | December 14, 2019

Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja scales Cho Oyu; China still unresponsive to Shishapangma permit plea

Rajan Pokhrel

KATHMANDU: A former UK’s Special Forces member, on his record-setting feat, has successfully climbed the world’s sixth highest peak in Tibet completing his 12th eight-thousander in just five months.

Being part of the eight-member rope fixing team that comprises climbers from Climbalaya Treks, International Mountain Guides, Alpenglow Expedition and Seven Summit Treks, Purja (36) made it to the summit of Cho Oyu (8,188 m) this morning, according to base camp officials. “Purja along with Gesman Tamang of the Project Possible team scaled Cho Oyu aiming to achieve his ambition to speed climb the world’s 14 highest mountains in just seven months.”

According to officials, Lhakpa Ongchhu Sherpa (Himalayan Guides), Chewang Lendu Sherpa (IMG), Pasang Sherpa (IMG), Palden Namgya (Alpenglow), Nima Tenzing Sherpa(Alpenglow) and Pemba Sherpa (Climbalaya) also reached the summit point at around 10:45 am.

Purja, who has scaled 11 mountains above 8,000 m in just over four months, has to climb Mt Manaslu, Mt Cho Oyu and Mt Shishapangma by this November to complete his third phase of the Project Possible.

At least 37 expedition members along with their support staff have obtained permit from Chinese mountaineering authority to attempt to climb the world’s sixth highest mountain in the autumn season. China has already asked operators to wrap up their expedition by October 1.

As China has reportedly closed Mt Shishapangma this year, the government authorities have also been lobbying with the northern neighbour to secure him a climbing permit at the earliest. “But, we have not received any message from the China’s Mountaineering Association till date,” an official at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation said. It seems that there is a very slim chance for Purja to secure a climbing permit on Mt Shishapangma this year, according to the official.

After summiting Cho Oyu, Purja would return to Mt Manaslu in a couple of days to attempt to scale the 13th eight-thousander in his list, a member of the Project Possible shared.

Purja, who has spent 16 years in the British Army, said that he wanted to establish a paradigm shift in the perception of human potential by climbing all 14 mountains in seven months. 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.

The former British soldier was the first Gurkha to join the elite Special Boat Service and has already three World Records for speed climbing to his name. “During the journey of project, I have also been involved in four unplanned rescues in the high Himalayas,” he informed.

Purja, a permanent resident of Myagdi, is the first Gurkha to climb Mt Everest while serving the British Military and a current holder of multiple World Records for the fastest ascent of double and triple header mountains in the higher than 8,000 m category.

Purja also quit a prestigious job in the British Army to break more boundaries and help others move forward in their lives, realise their dreams and exceed their limitations. Purja had already re-mortgaged his Hampshire home to collect the fund for the ‘Project Possible’.

“I want to promote the homeland of the Gurkhas among the 8,000 m mountains and also to promote tourism with the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign,” Purja said, adding that he also wanted 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’s Summit Success:

  • Cho Oyu – September 23
  • Broad Peak – July 26
  • Mt K2 – July 24
  • Gasherbrum II – July 18
  • Gasherbrum I – July 15
  • Nanga Parbat – July 03
  • Mt Makalu – May 24
  • Mt Everest – May 22
  • Mt Lhotse – May 22
  • Mt Kanchenjunga – May 15
  • Mt Dhaulagiri – May 12
  • Mt Annapurna – April 23

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