Himalaya Fall 2019: Nims Purja Arrives on Manaslu

Yesterday we shared some updates on the early phases of the 2019 autumn climbing season in the Himalaya, where things are ramping up quickly post-monsoon. It is now shaping up to be a very interesting and busy season in Nepal, where more than 400 climbers are on their way to Manaslu alone. Amongst them is Nirmal “Nims” Purja, who is now looking to knock off two 8000-meter peaks before the end of September, while still holding out hope that he may yet complete his Project Possible initiative on schedule and as planned.

According to a report in The Himalayan Times, Nims and his team arrived in Manaslu Base Camp today and have immediately started making plans for their acclimatization rotations. Purja and his squad are on a tight schedule, because according to the story they hope to summit not one, but two peaks before the end of September. In addition to Manaslu, they also have their sights set on Cho Oyu, which the Chinese government has indicated it will shut down to climbing on October 1. Earlier reports indicated that Nims and company would possibly attempt Cho Oyu from the seldom climbed Nepali side of the mountain. Whether or not that remains an option is unclear.

With a plan set in motion for Manaslu and Cho Oyu, the other question that remains is whether or not he’ll get a chance to climb Shishapangma this fall. That is the third and final mountain on his hit list, but Nims may not even get a chance to set foot on it this year. According to reports, the Chinese government will close Shishapangma to all climbers this fall, which would prevent Purja from even getting a chance to complete Project Possible until possibly next spring at the earliest. That would still be years ahead of the record for climbing all 14 8000-meter peaks, but also much longer than the seven month goal that Nims originally had in mind.

But all hope is not lost. The Himalayan Times article linked to above also indicates that Nims has enlisted the aid of the Nepali government to lobby on his behalf. In the article linked to above, a high level official from Nepali’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is quoted as saying, “High-level bilateral talks are underway to open Shishapangma for climbing this year.” In other words, the two governments are at least discussing allowing Nims to climb the mountain, providing a glimmer of hope that he’ll get a crack at this awesome achievement just yet.

Stay tuned for more updates soon. There are plenty of interesting stories to follow this season in the Himalaya and I’ll be keeping a close eye on all of them.