Man climbs world's 14 highest peaks in just over six months

Nepali climber Nirmal Purja on the summit of Gasherbrum II, in Xinjiang, China, in July.
Nepali climber Nirmal Purja on the summit of Gasherbrum II, in Xinjiang, China, in July.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
VIDEO: REUTERS

LONDON • A Nepali climber has reached the summit of the world's 14 highest mountains in just over six months, setting a record for a feat that took other climbers years to complete.

Mr Nirmal Purja, 36, completed his goal early on Tuesday morning when he reached the top of Shishapangma, in Tibet, along with a Sherpa team.

"Mission Achieved!" was the simple message he relayed in a post on social media.

"It has been a gruelling but humbling six months, and I hope to have proven that anything is possible with some determination, self-belief and positivity," Mr Purja said in a statement.

A spokesman for Seven Summit Treks, a Nepal-based company that helped organise some of Mr Purja's expeditions, said by phone that the firm was in touch with his team and confirmed that he had reached the top of Shishapangma.

The attempt to be the fastest to reach the top of all the world's known mountains over 8,000m, which Mr Purja called Project Possible, started in April, when he scaled Annapurna.

He then quickly tackled the 13 remaining mountains, all of which are in the Himalayan and Karakoram ranges that stretch across China, India, Nepal and Pakistan.

Climbing the world's 8,000ers, as they are known, requires time in the so-called death zone, an altitude at which reduced oxygen levels make it difficult for humans to breathe effectively, and where climbers can die.

The previous record for scaling all 14 peaks was held by South Korean Kim Chang-ho, who completed his climbs in seven years, 10 months and six days. He broke an earlier record held by Mr Jerzy Kukuczka of Poland, who took seven years, 11 months and 14 days.

Both climbers later died while scaling mountains in Nepal

Mr Purja drew worldwide attention to his attempt in May, when he posted a photo of a traffic jam of climbers near the summit of Mount Everest.

He reached the top of Everest - a climb he has made several times - but it was an exceptionally deadly season on the world's tallest peak, with 11 people dying during the weeks-long window with favourable climbing conditions.

High-altitude mountaineering can be expensive, with costs for equipment and guides costing tens of thousands of dollars.

Mr Purja said he had found it hard early on to get sponsorship for his attempt, but eventually luxury British watchmaker Bremont financed his efforts.

Bremont co-founder Nick English offered his "huge congratulations" to Mr Purja on Tuesday.

"I don't think we will see it again in our lifetime," Mr English wrote in a post on social media.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2019, with the headline 'Man climbs world's 14 highest peaks in just over six months'. Print Edition | Subscribe