A Nepali mountaineer and former British Marine Nirmal Purja have climbed the world’s tallest 14 peaks in six months – beating an earlier record of almost eight years. He reached the top of his 14th mountain, Shishapangma in China, on Tuesday morning.
Purja, age 36 was a former British Army and became a Royal marine in 2009. His climbing career began when he walked to Everest base camp in 2012 and, instead of returning as planned, decided to climb the entire mountain. He was already the holder of numerous records – including the fastest “double-header” of two mountains higher than 8,000 meters and was awarded the MBE, a civilian honor, by the Queen in 2018. Nepalese soldiers have served in the British Army – specifically the Brigade of Gurkhas for more than 200 years.
The idea to break the 14-summit record came to him in 2017 when he achieved three-speed records on peaks above 8,000 meters. The attempt to be the fastest to reach the top of all the world’s known mountains over 8,000 meters, or about 26,350 feet, which Mr. Purja called Project Possible started in April when he scaled Annapurna. He then quickly tackled the 13 remaining mountains, all of which are in the Himalayan and Karakoram ranges that stretch across China, India, Nepal and Pakistan.
Climbing the world’s 8,000ers, as they are known, requires time in the so-called death zone, an altitude at which reduced oxygen levels make it difficult for humans to breathe effectively and where climbers can die. The previous speed record for scaling all 14 peaks was held by Kim Chang-ho of South Korea, who completed his climbs in seven years, 10 months and six days. He narrowly broke an earlier record held by Jerzy Kukuczka of Poland, who took 7 years, 11 months and 14 days.
Purja uploaded a picture that stated- “Queue at the top of the Summit” gained worldwide attention. It was a photo of a traffic jam of climbers near the summit of Mount Everest. During his climbs, he rescued four other climbers – three of whom he called “Suicide Missions” – and has, in his own words, “Bled from every Angle”.
In September, his challenge was held up while he waited for permission to climb the final mountain, Shishapangma, in the Tibetan autonomous region of China. His permit was granted on 15 October after the Nepali government approached the Chinese government on his behalf.
In order, the 14 mountains he climbed were- Mt. Annapurna, Mt. Dhaulagiri, Mt. Kanchenjunga, Mt. Everest, Mt. Lhotse, Mt. Makalu, and Mt. Manaslu from Nepal, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum 1,Gasherbrum 2, Mt.K2, Broad Peak from Pakistan, Mt. Cho Oyu and Shishapangma from China.