Not long after seeing the first sub two-hour marathon, we now have a speed record on a whole different scale: Nirmal “Nims” Purja has set a new mark for the shortest amount of time to climb the 14 peaks in the world over 8,000 meters, accomplishing the task in a just 6 months 6 days.
The 36-year-old Nepalese climber—a former Gurkha in the British military—obliterated the former record, held by Korean climber Kim Chang-Ho. When Chang-Ho climbed his last 8,000er in May 2013, he set the record for all 14 8,000ers at 7 years 10 months 6 days. Purja managed to do it 7 years and 4 months quicker.
“MISSION ACHIEVED !” Purja reported to his team from the summit of Shishapangma, his last outstanding 8,000er. He summited at 8:58 am on October 29. Purja climbed with teammates Mingma David Sherpa, Galjen Sherpa and Gesman Tamang.
Purja’s achievement was the goal of his Project Possible, in which he set out to climb all of the 8,000ers in under 7 months.
According to the website, in climbing the 14 8,000ers in record time, Purja wanted to use Project Possible and his platform “to provide important opportunities for local Sherpas and guides to forge a career in the mountains and will promote the homeland of the Gurkhas among the 8,000m mountains. The project aims to raise awareness for a number of significant causes, most notably for UK military charities, supporting Nims’ colleagues who may have been wounded, injured and/or who suffer mental health issues. Equally, the support for Nepalese children’s charities and orphanages dedicated to education and wellbeing is of paramount importance, not forgetting raising crucial awareness of climate change and global warming.”
Climbing all of the 8,000ers has been a prize in mountaineering for decades. Reinhold Messner was the first to accomplish the feat, ticking off his last one in 1986. Messner also was the first to climb all the 8,000ers without supplemental oxygen. In 2010, Edurne Pasaburne became the first woman to complete all 14 8,000ers.
Purja used supplemental oxygen during his ascents, but never claimed anything to the contrary. In an interview on Explorersweb.com, Purjal said, “The only reason that I have used oxygen on this current challenge is because of its scale. You cannot plan a single mountain in isolation. I have to consider the whole phase: the weather, the features of the mountain and the conditions. I have to get back down, so that I can reach the next mountain. I listen to my body. You must have humility so that you can get home. You can always go again without oxygen if that is what is so important, but you can’t if you’re dead.”
In the course of his project, Purja has conducted four separate rescues of climbers in need.
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