If you’ve been standing by waiting for an update on the progress of Nirmal “Nims Purja on Shishapangma, we have some good news for you. It now looks like the Project Possible expedition is moving into its final stages and we could see the entire seven-month long initiative wrapped up in the next few days. If so, it will close the book on what has been one of the most daring undertakings in mountaineering in recent years, capturing the imagination of many around the globe.
When last rechecked in with Nims, the team was in Base Camp on Shishapangma, preparing to head up the mountain. Nims was suffering from a toothache in one of his wisdom teeth that was causing him a great deal of discomfort, while climbing partner Mingma David Sherpa was dealing with a very bad cold. Not a great way to get ready for a climb up an 8000-meter peak. But, they had also just completed their puja ceremony, which is a Buddhist ritual that seeks permission from the mountain to safely climb up and down its flanks. That ceremony is held before every major (and most minor!) climbs in the Himalaya and is especially important to the Sherpas.
With that formality out of the way, the team set off late last week to shuttle gear up to Camp 1. That should have been a relatively straight forward trek, but it turned into a more challenging experience than anyone had expected. High winds made it tough to see as snow and ice swirled around the climbers. As a result, it took them three hours to find the route to C1. Worse yet, a minor avalanche struck the area where they were climbing as well, although thankfully no one was hurt.
These challenges were a stark reminder that while Nims and company have knocked off 13 of the 14 8000-meter peaks over the past 6+ months, Shishapangma is not an easy climb and reaching the top is not a foregone conclusion. Still, the group returned to BC and regrouped over the weekend. Now, they’re ready to make the final push to the summit as a good weather window opens right on schedule.
According to a Facebook post from Nims, the group set off from BC yesterday and moved up to Camp 2. The plan is to then climb to C3 today, and hold there until tomorrow morning. October 29th is designated as “Summit Day” according to the update, which means that if all goes according to plan, Purja and his team should reach the top sometime tomorrow. If that happens, he’ll not only have set a new speed record for climbing all 14 8000-meter mountains, he’ll have redefined our expectations of what is possible in the mountains.
For now, all we can do is standby and wait for new from the team and with them luck. While Shishapangma is a moderately challenging climb, the very last stages involve an approach tot he summit on a very narrow ridge. That ridge can be tricky to navigate, particularly in windy conditions. Hopefully, everyone will get up and down the hill safely with good news to report sometime tomorrow.
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