There is no question that Nirmal “Nims Purja has emerged as the bright, shining new star in the world of mountaineering this year. Back in March, he announced his attempt to climb all 14 8000-meter peaks in a single seven month period to some degree of skepticism amongst observers.
Since then, he has gone on to remove any doubt about his skill and strength in the mountains by systematically climbing 11 of those peaks over a four month period as part of his Project Possible 14/7 mission. Now, just days after returning home from a very successful expedition to Pakistan –– and with three mountains left on his hit-list –– Purja has revealed that he is considering a winter attempt on K2 as his next big challenge.
A few weeks back, Nims summited K2 even though the mountain had turned away a host of other climbers. Deep snow and high avalanche danger had caused most of the commercial teams to head home and by the time he reached Base Camp, morale was reportedly extremely low. If there was ever a time that it looked like Project Possible was in jeopardy, it was then, as the notoriously difficult mountain didn’t seem ready to give up its summit.
Nevertheless, Purja and his team headed up the slope, found a way to press through to the summit, and installed the ropes necessary for others to follow. By most accounts, it was an impressive display of determination and power that provided a true glimpse of what Nims is capable of in the mountains.
K2 ended up being the fourth of five 8000-meter summits that Nims scored this summer, with Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum I and II, and Broad Peak being the others. When you add those to the six he climbed this past spring in Nepal, you get his current number of 11.
That leaves him three to go, with Shishapangma, Cho Oyu and Manaslu still to be climbed this fall. While challenging, those three peaks seem almost like an after thought at this point, as none of them are as difficult as the mountains he has already summited. In fact, his biggest challenge remains logistics and fundraising, something he indicated on his Facebook page just a few days back. `
But that isn’t the only post he’s made to Facebook since returning from Pakistan. Yesterday he also indicated that he was now considering a winter attempt on K2 as well, with once again fundraising being the biggest obstacle that he see’s to success. The post was short and to the point, simply reading:
“I’m thinking weather I should hit K2 this winter or not ?. #k2winter2019
K2 remains the only 8000m peak that still remains unclimbed in winter.
There has been numerous attempts so far but all unsuccessful.
The only problem for me would be the funding”
As most of you probably already know, K2 remains the only 8000-meter mountain that has yet to be climbed during the winter. Over the past few years, several strong and talented teams have made such an attempt, but honestly none have even come close to reaching the summit. Would Nims have a chance at finding success where others have failed?
Clearly, the answer is yes, thanks in no small part to his incredible strength that he has shown as part of Project Possible. That said, there are a number of very strong climbers who have attempted K2 in the winter and come up short.
Denis Urubko and Alex Txikon both come to mind. Climbing in winter is a completely different beast, with the weather having even more of an impact on the schedule and pace. Nims obviously brings talent and focus to such an expedition, but having him on the squad doesn’t make a successful summit a foregone conclusion by any means.
Personally, I think the idea has definitely been planted in his head and the Facebook post may have been a way of signaling his interest. Whether he’s looking to attracting funding for a winter K2 climb or he’s looking to join another strong team heading to the mountain is unknown, but it sure would be fascinating to see him make the attempt.
Stay tuned for more. Something tells me we haven’t heard the last of this one.
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