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New York Times Article Alleges Nims Purja Sexually Assaulted Fellow Climbers; Purja Responds

Nirmal 'Nims' Purja, an elite mountaineer and star of the Netflix documentary '14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible,' faces allegations of sexual harassment.
Nirmal Purja on the summit of Lhotse in 2024.Nirmal Purja on the summit of Lhotse this season; (photo/Nirmal Purja)
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Two women have gone on the record to accuse famed mountaineer Nirmal “Nims” Purja, of serious sexual misbehavior, according to reporting by The New York Times.

While the story mentions several cases of women who have suffered from sexual abuse in outdoor sports, it presents Purja’s case in the most detail through the testimonies of experienced climber and former Miss Finland, Lotta Hintsa, and American doctor April Leonardo. Both describe “experiences in recent years in which he [Purja] kissed them without consent, made aggressive advances, or touched them sexually against their wishes,” reported The Times.

Hintsa recounted an episode of sexual aggression during a supposed business meeting at the Marriott in Kathmandu last year. And April Leonardo, a client of Purja’s, allegedly suffered constant sexual harassment during a K2 expedition in 2022.

“It’s not only the rock fall or the avalanches that are dangerous for a female climber,” Finnish climber and mountaineer Lotta Hintsa told The New York Times.

Purja initially responded through his lawyers, denying all accusations as “false and defamatory.” Purja subsequently took to social media to formally address the accusations, which he called “defamatory and false.”

nims purja statement instagram

This story was originally published on ExplorersWeb.

Brand Impact

The women claim they have spoken up so that others don’t have to go through the experiences they say they endured.

The New York Times story impacts not only Purja personally but also his brand. Purja owns a guiding company, Elite Exped, and a clothing brand. The “Nims” branding is on collections by Grivel and Nike. He is one of a very select group of Red Bull athletes, a member of the prestigious Order of the British Empire, and has an honorary doctorate from Loughborough University.

But recently, Nims and Elite Exped have been the focus of varying controversies on Everest. In the last 2 weeks, several articles in local Nepali media accused the mountaineer of improper permitting, though Elite Exped substantiated there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

And this week, Purja went on social media to claim that the ropes had been cut on the upper slopes of Everest just as he was about to lead a team to the summit. Fellow outfitters denied the accusation, and an investigation is now ongoing.

More generally, the sexual misconduct allegations cast a spotlight on the entire high-altitude climbing community. As Hintsa said, a base camp should be a safe point to return to from the summit, not an added risk.

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