Ex Gurkha soldier aims to climb world’s 14 highest peaks in 7 months

A former Gurkha soldier and a mountaineer, Nirmal Purja, holds a banner of Gurkha Everest Expedition. Photo: THT

KATHMANDU: A former Gurkha soldier is all set to leave for the world’s tenth highest mountain later this week on his mission to climb the world’s fourteen highest mountains in just seven months.

“I will leave for Mt Annapurna (8,901m) on Friday to attempt to climb one of the world’s fourteen highest mountains,” Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja, 34, told THT.

Purja, who has spent 16 years in the British Army, said he wanted to break the mountaineering world record by climbing all 14 peaks in the next seven months. The current records for such attempt are: seven years, 10 months and six days by Korean climber Kim Chang-ho in 2013 and seven years, 11 months and 14 days by Polish climber Jerzy Kukuczka in 1987.

Calling it ‘Project Possible’, Purja has chosen the biggest challenge someone will ever attempt in human history. “Anything is possible if you put your mind to it,” Purja, who has applied for a climbing permit at the Department of Tourism, said.

A former Gurkha soldier, Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja, poses in front of the banner for ‘Project possible’. Purja is all set to leave for the world’s tenth highest mountain later this week on his mission to climb the world’s fourteen highest mountains in just seven months. Photo: THT

Mingma Sherpa, Chairman at Seven Summit Treks, said that his company would provide logistic support to the ‘Project Possible’. “We feel proud to be a part of this exciting expedition,” he added.

Purja will be on Mt Annapurna along with the strongest climber Mingma David Sherpa and five other climbers and Sherpas.

“During the first phase, I plan to climb the first six peaks including Mt Everest by June 1,” he said adding that he would then attempt to climb six other mountains including Mt K2 in the second phase by August 1. Then, the final attempt will begin in September with plans to climb the remaining three peaks by November 1, he said.

With an aim to set a paradigm shift in the perception of human potential, breaking more than seven speed world records on mountains above 8,000m, Purja said that he quit the most prestigious job in the British Army to break more boundaries and help others move forward in their lives, realise their dreams and exceed the limitations.

Purja, a permanent resident of Myagdi, is the first Gurkha to climb Mt Everest while serving the British Military and current holder of
multiple World Records for the fastest ascent of double and triple header mountains in the higher than 8000m category.

In 2017, Purja set a world record making the fastest consecutive summits of Mt Everest, Mt Lhotse and Mt Makalu in five days. He is the first person to summit Mt Everest twice, Mt Lhotse once and Mt Makalu once, in the same season, taking a total of 17 days. Purja also saved the life of an Indian climber conducting the highest ever rescue from the Mt Everest death zone in 2016.

“I have been putting everything together to achieve the new feat,” he said. According to him, he has already re-mortgaged his Hampshire home to collect the fund. Through the ‘Project Possible’, the former Gurkha soldier also wants to support a charitable foundation in Nepal and the UK which work for the well-being of people with disabilities and children.

Purja, who was awarded an MBE for his outstanding achievement on high altitude mountaineering,  said that his mission would also support the government’s Visit Nepal Year announcement to bring over two million tourists by 2020. “I also want to promote the homeland of the Gurkhas among the 8,000m mountains.”

According to him, Hama Iron and Steel Industries Pvt Ltd together with Premier Insurance Company supported the ‘Project Possible’. “By having adequate training, I am determined to complete the challenge.”

Appreciating Purja’s dedication and commitment, Chief Executive Officer at Nepal Tourism Board Deepak Raj Joshi said that NTB would support his mission to climb all the 14 highest mountains in seven months.