Himalaya Spring 2019: Quest for All 14 8000-Meter Peaks Begins on Annapurna

Last week I shared the story of Nirmal “Nims” Purja, the former Gurkha soldier from Nepal who hopes to climb all 14 8000-meter peaks in a span of seven months. At the time, we didn’t know a lot of specifics about his plan, other than that he was preparing to launch Phase 1, which will include attempts on Everest, Lhotse, Kangchenjunga, Makalu, Dhaulagiri, and Annapurna. Purja will tackles those peaks between April and June of this year, although now we know exactly where he’s starting.

Nims calls his ambitious plan Project Possible and he’s hoping to use it as a platform to raise funds to assist veterans struggling with a return to normal life after serving in the military. The project is broken down into three phases, the first of which is detailed above, while Phase 2 will send him to Pakistan in the summer to take on K2, Broad Peak, Nanga Parbat, and Gasherbrum 1 and 2. If all goes as planned, he’ll wrap up his expedition by traveling to Tibet in the fall to climb Manaslu, Shishapangma, and Cho Oyu. If successful, this will be one of the most impressive feats in mountaineering history. To put things in perspective, the current record for completing the 8000-meter peaks is 7 years, 10 months, and 6 days held by Korean climber Chang-Ho Kim.

Last week when I first shared the news of Nims’ plans I speculated that he might start on Annapurna, and according to The Himalayan Times that guess was accurate. In recent years, the first climbing expeditions of the Himalaya spring season have started on that mountain and 2019 looks to be no different. Annapurna is well known for its propensity for avalanches, but a shift in philosophy that has proven to be successful says that if you get there early the mountain is more stable. As the spring moves on and temperatures increase, the chances of avalanches increases dramatically. As the tenth highest mountain on the planet, it is also a good place to acclimate before moving on to other Nepali peaks.

According to the article, Purja will leave for Annapurna on Friday and will be accompanied by six Sherpas, including Mingma David Sherpa. These climbers will serve as support for him on the mountain, helping to set up camps, install ropes, and acclimatize to the altitude. Once they have wrapped up their work on Annapurna, they’ll move on to the other mountains that are a part of Phase 1, which Nims hopes to have wrapped up by June 1.

Purja is no stranger to climbing 8000-meter peaks and setting records in the mountains. In the past, he set a record for the fastest consecutive summits of Everest, Lhotse, and Makalu, taking just five days to climb them all. That feat was accomplished in 2017, when he also summited Everest for a second time. He hopes to bring that same level of speed and success to Project Possible in the weeks ahead.

As you can probably imagine, we’ll be following this story closely throughout the year. I want to personally wish Nims lots of luck. He’s going to need it!

Kraig Becker

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