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Nepalese Man Climbs 14 Mountains in 6 Months

Shishapangma, China —(Map)

Nirmal “Nims” Purja has just set several world records after completing a mountain climbing challenge he set for himself: climbing the world’s 14 highest mountains in less than seven months.

Mr. Purja was born in Nepal, in the Himalayas, the world’s highest mountain range. Though he was born a mile (1,600 meters) above sea level, he didn’t climb any serious mountains until he was 29.

Nims Purja at the top of Nanga Parbat.
Nirmal “Nims” Purja has just set several world records after completing a mountain climbing challenge he set for himself: climbing the world’s 14 highest mountains in less than seven months. The picture shows Mr. Purja at the top of Nanga Parbat.
(Source: Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja, Bremont Project Possible.)

But Mr. Purja, now 36, was trained to be tough. He served in the special forces of the British Navy, where he had special training for fighting in extremely cold weather. In 2018, he quit as a soldier to follow his mountain climbing dream.

There are only 14 mountains in the world that are higher than 8,000 meters (5 miles). Mr. Purja had already climbed several of them. His new goal was to climb all of them – in less than seven months.

Nims Purja at the top of Everest.
There are only 14 mountains in the world that are higher than 8,000 meters (5 miles). Mr. Purja had already climbed several of them. His new goal was to climb all of them. The picture shows Mr. Purja at the top of Mount Everest, a mountain he first climbed in 2016.
(Source: Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja, Bremont Project Possible.)

Other people had climbed the 14 mountains before. But the fastest anyone had ever done it was when Kim Chang-ho of South Korea completed the 14 climbs in 2013. It took him seven years, 10 months and six days.

Mr. Purja named his challenge “Project Possible”. He began on April 23, by climbing Annapurna in Nepal. By May 24, he had summited (gotten to the top of) six mountains higher than 8,000 meters in Nepal.

Nims Purja at the top of Annapurna in Nepal.
Mr. Purja named his challenge “Project Possible”. He began on April 23, by climbing Annapurna (above) in Nepal. By May 24, he had summited (gotten to the top of) six mountains higher than 8,000 meters in Nepal.
(Source: Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja, Bremont Project Possible.)

In July, Mr. Purja completed five more climbs in Pakistan, bringing his total to 11. When he climbed, Mr. Purja worked with a small group of other climbers, all from Nepal.

At the top of these mountains, the air is very thin. There isn’t much oxygen to breathe. So Mr. Purja and his group brought extra oxygen. Not all hikers bring extra oxygen. For Mr. Purja, the decision was about safety. And it was good that he had the oxygen. During his climbs, he wound up rescuing four other climbers.

Nims Purja and some of his team members at the top of Nanga Parbat in Pakistan.
In July, Mr. Purja completed five more climbs in Pakistan, bringing his total to 11. When he climbed, Mr. Purja worked with a small group of other climbers, all from Nepal. The picture shows Mr. Purja and some of his team members at the top of Nanga Parbat in Pakistan.
(Source: Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja, Bremont Project Possible.)

In late September, Mr. Purja climbed Cho Oyu in China and then Manaslu in Nepal. That brought him to 13 mountains, leaving only Shishapangma, in China.

There was just one problem: China wouldn’t let him climb Shishapangma. Mr. Purja struggled to convince China, but without luck. Finally, the government of Nepal asked the Chinese government to let Mr. Purja climb.

Shishapangma (left) from mountain flight, Nepal
The final mountain Mr. Purja needed to climb was Shishapangma, in China (at the left of the photo above). At first, China wouldn’t let him. Finally, the government of Nepal asked the Chinese government to let Mr. Purja climb and China agreed.
(Source: Swinelin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.)

In mid-October, Mr. Purja got permission. On October 29, just a little more than six months after he started, Nims Purja had summited the 14th mountain, breaking the old record by over seven years.

Though Mr. Purja completed his challenge incredibly quickly, it wasn’t easy. During one day of climbing Shishapangma, for example, Mr. Purja and his team climbed for 15 hours straight. They had to deal with winds as fast as 47 miles per hour (75 kilometers per hour).

Nims Purja at the top of Shishapangma.
On October 29, just a little more than six months after he started, Nims Purja had summited the 14th mountain, breaking the old record by over seven years. The picture shows Mr. Purja at the top of Shishapangma.
(Source: Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja, Bremont Project Possible.)

Mr. Purja believes his strong physical condition and his training as a soldier helped him. He hopes his efforts will inspire others.

“People are only limited by their imagination,” he says. “If you don’t dream, then you won’t do it.”


Mountains climbed by Nims Purja.

Mountain Country Date
Annapurna Nepal April 23
Dhaulagiri Nepal May 12
Kanchenjunga Nepal May15
Everest Nepal May 22
Lhotse Nepal May 22
Makalu Nepal May 24
Nanga Parbat Pakistan July 3
Gasherbrum 1 Pakistan July 15
Gasherbrum 2 Pakistan July 18
K2 Pakistan July 24
Broad Peak Pakistan July26
Cho Oyu China September 23
Manaslu Nepal September 27
Shishapangma China October 29

Shishapangma, China


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