Nepalese mountains
Veterans' Stories

SBS Veteran to Climb the World's 14 Highest Peaks in 7 months

June 12 2019

Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja MBE is a veteran who served with the Gurkhas for 6 years before serving in the SBS for a further 10 years. Not one to take things easy, Nims is now attempting to climb the world’s 14 highest peaks in just 7 months, codename Project Possible

Who is Nirmal Purja?

A true mountaineering legend, Nims was the first serving member of the UK Armed Forces to climb Everest and has been awarded an MBE by the Queen for his achievements in extreme high-altitude mountaineering. 

Claiming to be the “Best of the Gurkhas” he is one of the world’s leading experts in cold-weather warfare. His attempt to climb the world’s highest 14 mountains, if successful, will beat the current world record which has been in place for 31 years. He will be given a Guinness World Record if he completes his challenge. It will not be his first Guinness World Record as he already holds 3. 

The current world records featuring his name are: the fastest consecutive summits of Everest, Lhotse and Makalu in five days, the fastest time from the summit of Everest to the summit of Lhotse, and he was the first person to summit Everest twice, Lhotse once and Makalu once, in the same season.


What is Project Possible?

Project Possible sees Nirmal Purja climb the following peaks in seven months:

  1. Annapurna - 10th Highest peak (8091m)
  2. Dhaulagiri  - 7th Highest peak (8167m)
  3. Kanchenjunga  - 3rd Highest peak (8586m)
  4. Everest - The Highest peak in the world (8848m)
  5. Lhotse - 4th Highest peak (8516m)
  6. Makalu - 5th Highest peak (8481m)
  7. K2 - 2nd Highest peak (8611m)
  8. Nanga Parbat - 9th Highest Peak (8126m)
  9. Broad Peak - 12 Highest Peak (8047m)
  10. G2 - 13th Highest Peak (8035m)
  11. G1 - 11th Highest Peak (8080m)
  12. Manaslu - 8th Highest Peak (8163m)
  13. Cho Oyu - 6th Highest Peak (8188m)
  14. Shishapangma - 14th Highest Peak (8027m)

You can learn more about his challenge on Nim’s website.

Nirmal Purja's Rescue at 26,000 feet

After climbing Annapurna (first peak of Project Possible), Nims was descending back down to base camp when he was told that another climber was seriously injured and needed help. The climber was a doctor who had been missing for 2 days but had been spotted by a helicopter. The injured climber was located at 26,545 feet - which was too high for the helicopter to land. This meant that the rescue needed someone to perform a longline rescue - where the rescuer is tied to a rope that trails beneath the helicopter before being dropped near the injured climber. 

Annapurna is considered the most dangerous of the 14 highest peaks due to 1 out of 3 summits involving a death. Knowing there was not much time left, Nirmal volunteered himself for the mission. Nims' courage and bravery was not wasted, the 49-year-old doctor was rescued and is now recovering in hospital.

This is the second time Nirmal has saved someone’s life on one of the world’s highest peaks. In 2016 he saved a climber who had fallen in the Everest Death Zone. He dragged her to a safe zone where a rescue operation could take place, he said “I have never been that tired before. Being a Gurkha and a former member of the special forces, we never leave any man behind.”

The UK Armed Forces veterans are heroes. They put their lives on the line to protect the innocent no matter the cost. Veterans’ Foundation makes sure our veterans are being looked after, we have given £2million to 140 armed forces charities, we couldn’t do this without the help of our supporters. 

Help us support even more veterans by donating to the Veterans’ Foundation today or joining our lottery. The Veterans’ Lottery only costs £10 a month and you have the opportunity to win up to £35,000 each month.

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