Nirmal Purja's Project Possible trekking feat is redefining our ideas of human capability

Conquering the world's 14 highest mountains in just seven months
The man breaking this insane mountain record

Remember that guy who took the snap of people queuing for the summit of Everest (above) earlier in the summer? That was Nirmal Purja on his journey to Project Possible – an attempt to break the record for climbing all 14 of the world’s 8,000m+ mountains – and he’s getting pretty close.

The current record stands at 7 years, 11 months and 14 days (held by Jerzy Kukuczka) – and Purja is going to do the same in just 7 months. And he’s already on track with just three to go.

Logistics are one thing on Nim’s side. All 14 of the world’s 8,000m+ club are in the Himalayas. The bad news is that they all feature the so-called Death Zone – the area above 8,000m where oxygen levels become too low to sustain human life.

And Purja has already come face-to-face with the almost routine deaths of climbers on these mountains. In his descents of both Annapurna and Kanchenjunga, Purja and his team stepped in to rescue climbers stranded without oxygen – both of whom died after rescue. Annapurna has killed 1 in 3 of the climbers that has ever attempted it. How's those odds?

If Purja seems superhuman, perhaps his background goes some way to explaining his aptitude for the mountains. He was a Gurka, a legendary Nepalese unit that exists within the British Army, and then UK special forces where he specialised in extreme cold combat. He quit this year after 16 years of service to embark on this adventure, after tackling Everest in his spare time.

He’s already registered the fastest consecutive summits of Everest, Lhotse and Makalu in five days, and the first person to summit Everest twice, Lhotse once and Makalu once, in the same season.

And perhaps the most impressive – the fastest time ever from the summit of Everest to the summit of Lhotse in just 10 hours 15 minutes. Yep, in some people’s working day he hopped between two of Earth’s highest and most dangerous summits.

Purja, who has now joined the ranks of Osprey's athlete team, is building awareness of climate change, and raising money to support Gurkhas and their families – as well as children in his home country of Nepal. Head to his GoFundMe page to see how you can support the project.

The mountains on the itinerary (in order of height):

  • Everest, Nepal - 8,848m
  • K2, Pakistan - 8,611m
  • Kanchenjunga, Nepal - 8,586m
  • Lhotse, Nepal - 8,516m
  • Makalu, Nepal - 8,481m
  • Cho Oyu, Tibet - 8,118m
  • Dhaulagiri, Nepal - 8,167m
  • Manaslu, Nepal - 8,163m
  • Nanga Parbat, Pakistan - 8,126m
  • Annapurna, Nepal - 8,091m
  • Broad Peak, Pakistan - 8,047m
  • G2, Pakistan - 8,035m
  • Shishapangma, Tibet - 8,027m
  • G1, Pakistan - 8,010m

Main image credit: @NimsdaiI Project Possible

Tags:   Trekking
Tagged   Trekking