Kilian Jornet stunned the mountaineering world with his recent double ascent of Mt. Everest without oxygen. That was an impressive feat to say the least, particularly when you factor in the speed at which he climbed. But, it turns out a Nepali soldier by the name of Nirmal Purja had an even more impressive season in the Himalaya, scaling three 8000-meter peaks and notching his own double ascent of the world’s highest peak.
According to The Himalayan Times, Nirmal first summited Everest on May 15, before descending back to South Side Base Camp for rest and recuperation. He then waited until the weather improved late in the season to make another summit bid. He then topped out again on May 27, before proceeding on to the summit of Lhotse 8 hours later.
With his second ascent of Everest, and her neighbor, Lhotse secured, he once again went down the mountain and on May 30 Nirmal and a small group of support Sherpas left for Makalu. Once there, it didn’t take long to launch yet another ascent, reaching the summit of that mountain on June 1. He is reportedly the first person to bag three 8000-meter peaks in just five days.
The 34-year old mountaineer serves as a sergeant in Gurkha Engineers in the British Army and was amongst the first to reach the top of Everest this season, just behind the team of Sherpas that fixed ropes to the summit. Previously, back in 2014, he had also summited Dhaulagiri as well. On this expedition to Everest, he was part of a team that will form the nucleus of the next generation of Gurkha mountaineers, an elite military unit that is part of the British Army, but is entirely made up of Nepalis. The Gurkha’s have served the crown for 200 years.
Nirmal’s accomplishments in the Himalaya this season are impressive indeed. It has been a banner year in the big mountains and his story is yet another chapter in what will be remembered as one of the most active and groundbreaking in recent memory.
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