For most experienced mountaineers, summiting just one 8,000-meter peak in any given year is no mean feat. It can take weeks for a climber to acclimatize to summit a mountain like Mt. Everest or K2, and climbers generally need time to recover afterward. Anything above 8,000m is considered the ‘death zone’ and can take a huge toll on the body.
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Many of the more extreme climbers may attempt to summit two or three of those peaks over 12-months, but Nepali climber Nirmal “Nims” Purja has even more extreme, and what some might say ‘impossible’ ambitions. He has announced plans to summit all 14 of the world’s tallest peaks over a 7-month period. The current record? 8-YEARS (7 years, 10 months, 6 days to be exact…)
In May 2017, he managed to climb Everest, Lhotse, and Makalu over a span of just 5 days, setting a fastest known time (FKT) in the process. That achievement gave him the idea for this ambitious ‘Project Possible’.
Purja has broken the expedition down into three phases based on the geographical location of each of the 14 mountains, explains Gear Junkie.
- Phase 1 will take place this spring in the Himalayan peaks of Nepal. There, he hopes to summit Everest, Lhotse, and Makalu once again. He’ll also add Kangchenjunga, Dhaulagiri, and Annapurna to the lineup this time. If all goes according to plan, he should wrap up this first stage by the end of May.
- Then in June, he plans to travel to Pakistan, where he’ll attempt five more 8,000-meter peaks. That list includes K2, Nanga Parbat, Broad Peak, and Gasherbrum 1 and 2. If he manages to stay on schedule, Purja will finish Phase 2 by the beginning of August.
- He will then move on to Phase 3 in Tibet by September. In the fall, he’ll turn his attention to Manaslu, Shishapangma, and Cho Oyu, with an eye on finishing the entire project by early November.
To achieve this, he’ll need a bit of luck on his side, particularly regarding the weather. Proper weather windows play a significant factor as to whether or not a climber can reach the summit, even during prime climbing seasons. An unexpected storm or dangerous avalanche conditions could cause him to miss an opportunity to reach the top of any one of these mountains, potentially disrupting his entire schedule.
But nothing is stopping Purja from moving ahead with Project Possible. Spring climbing season has barely begun, but he is already in base camp on Annapurna, a mountain widely regarded as the most dangerous of all of the eight-thousanders due to its extremely high risk of avalanches.
The goal of this challenge isn’t just to make it into the record books, Purja is also hoping to raise funds and awareness for various charities in Nepal and the U.K. that support injured military veterans and children in need. He aims to raise nearly $400,000 through a GoFundMe page to support those efforts. As of now, he is a little over 10 percent of the way to reaching that goal.
You can follow his Facebook page, you can get updates on his progress not only on this peak but all of the others, too.