Those waiting for word from Shishapangma today on the status of Nirmal “Nims” Purja didn’t have to wait for very long. In an update to his Facebook page, Purja simply said “Mission Achieved,” indicating that he and his team found success on his 14th 8000-meter peak in a little more than six months. This brings an end to the former Gurkha soldier’s Project Possible initiative, which saw him climb all 14 of the world’s tallest mountains over that span of time.
While not a whole lot is known about Nims’ summit push just yet, the Facebook post included the following statement:
“At 8:58 hrs local time, Nims and his team reached the summit of Shisha Pangma. Team Members includes: Mingma David Sherpa, Galjen Sherpa and Gesman Tamang.”
Presumably, the team is now descending back to Camp 3 for a rest before heading back to Base Camp later. So far, it sounds like everyone is in good health and spirits, with Nims likely feeling a sense of relief and accomplishment that his monumental task is done. His original goal was to get all of the 8000-meter mountains in less than seven months, and he’s going to come in at about six months and one week. The previous record for climbing each of those mountains was held by Korean climber Kim Chang-ho who did it in seven years, 10 months back in 2013, with legendary Polish alpinist Jerzy Kukuczka completing the quest in seven years, 11 months and 14 days in 1987.
With this summit, his climbing partner Mingma David Sherpa has also summited his 14th 8000-meter peak as well. In doing so, he also set a record of his own, becoming the youngest person to achieve that mark at the age of 30. That is an impressive feat in and of itself and should be celebrated alongside Purja’s record. Nims himself is 36 year old.
Purja’s Project Possible expedition was announced way back in March with a healthy dose of skepticism throughout the mountaineering community. We already knew that Nims was a strong climber, having wracked up multiple summits in the Himalaya in seasons past. But at the time, summiting all 14 8000-meter peaks in a single year seemed like an impossibility as much for the logistical challenges as toll it would take on the human body. Over the course of the year, Purja continually defied the odds, knocking off six mountains in the spring climbing season alone. He also overcame serious challenges to lead a summit push on K2 this summer, and had to get a special permit from the Chinese government just to attempt Shishapangma as well. In the end, he was incredibly patient and focused, never losing sight of his goals. That dogged determination is as impressive as his strength in the mountains.
What comes next for Nirmal Purja remains to be seen, although he has already announced that he’ll be leading several expeditions to Everest, Lhotse, and K2 in 2020. He has also expressed an interest in attempting K2 in the winter, as it remains the only unclimbed 8000-meter peak during that season. For now though, I suspect he’ll take some time off, recover, and rest up some.
For the record, here is the list of his 14 summits and the date on which he reached the summit:
- Annapurna – April 23
- Dhaulagiri – May 12
- Kangchenjunga – May 15
- Lhotse – May 22
- Everest – May 22
- Makalu – May 24
- Nanga Parbat – July 3
- Gasherbrum I – July 15
- Gasherbrum II – July 18
- K2 – July 24
- Broad Peak – July 26
- Cho Oyu – September 23
- Manaslu – September 27
- Shishapangma – October 29
Congratulations to Nims and company for showing us what humans are truly capable of.