Epic Record Set: Nirmal Purja Just Completed an Alpine Masterpiece

Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja broke an incredible mountaineering record: summiting the world’s 14 peaks over 8,000 m in one season.

Purja has been crushing records for a while now. He holds the record for most 8,000m mountains climbed in the spring season and most 8,000m mountains climbed in the summer season. But all this was on the way to one of the most epic mountaineering feats on record.

Today, he broke the speed record for the fastest ascent of all the peaks over 8,000 m by reaching the summit of Shishapangma. The summit in China was his 14th and final climb.

“Mission achieved!” Purja announced on Instagram.

8,000-Meter Climbing Record Smashed by Years

Purja started his Herculean task this spring season. The former Gurkha Special Forces member in the British Navy tackled his lofty goal one incredible summit at a time. He climbed Annapurna in April, then proceeded to blow the mountaineering world’s collective minds. He finished the feat in 6 months and 5 days.

During this record attempt, he climbed Mt. Everest, Lhotse, and Makalu in a single 48-hour window. He also set the record for summiting the three highest mountains in the world — Everest, K2, and Kanchenjunga — each of which takes months of planning and preparation for most mountaineers.

Nims Purja Project Possible
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Not only did Purja break a record, but he did it in a fraction of the time. The previous records for summiting all 8,000m peaks are both around 8 years. One is held by Korean climber Kim Chang-ho, who completed the feat in 7 years and 10 months, and Polish climber Jerzy Kukuczka made it in 7 years and 11 months prior to that.

Political Hurdles, Rescues, and Famous Photos

To say Purja’s season will be the stuff of legends seems to be putting it lightly. Not only did he shatter an awesomely difficult record by 7 years, but he also made his mark in other ways along the way.

Early in the season, Purja took a photo that defined Mount Everest’s 2019. The photo, which showed a “traffic jam” on top of Everest, was used around the world in discussions of overcrowding on the mountain.

everest-traffic-jam-nims-purja
This photo by Nims Purja illustrating crowding on Mount Everest went viral around the world

He even participated in high-altitude rescues of stranded climbers on Everest and Annapurna during the spring climbing season.

But among many difficult tasks, Purja had to acquire a permit from China to climb this last mountain, Shishapangma. Acquiring the Chinese visa to visit the mountain in the restricted region of Tibet briefly put his attempt on hold. But once he had the permits, Purja quickly moved to complete the mission.

He funded his audacious endeavor through the organization Project Possible, which also raises money for charities.

14 Summits by Date

  • Annapurna (April 23)
  • Dhaulagiri (May 12)
  • Kanchenjunga (May 15)
  • Everest (May 22)
  • Lhotse (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 (Sept. 23)
  • Manaslu (Sept. 27)
  • Shishapangma (Oct. 28)
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Mary Murphy
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Mary is based in Denver, Colorado, but frequently travels abroad. Her outdoor interests span from climbing to landscape photography to pack-paddleboarding. If she's not writing, you can most likely find her at the top of a fourteener, or in a local bakery.

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