14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible

14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible
Susri Sahu

'This is about inspiring the human race'.

It’s an indescribable feeling to be on ‘top of the world’! Quite literally, there are fourteen peaks in the world that have a height greater than 8000 metres. This includes the world’s tallest Mt. Everest, renowned Mt. Annapurna, Mt. K2, Mt. Dhaulagiri, Mt. Kanchenjunga, Mt. Lhotse, Mt. Makalu, Mt. Nanga Parbat, Mt. Gasherbrum I, Mt. Gasherbrum II, Mt. Broad Peak, Mt. Manaslu, Mt. Cho Oyu, and Mt. Shishapangma. All of them are situated in the Himalayas.

'When you are in the mountains, you find out who you really are… I climb so I can live every moment of my life'.

It is every mountaineer's dream to summit at least one, if not all of them. And there are a few who have summited them all. Reinhold Messner was the first mountaineer to accomplish this feat in 1986 without the aid of supplementary oxygen. It took him 16 years to complete the task. The most recent attempt was carried out over a span of seven years. Nims decided he’d do it in seven months!

'I was told my plan was impossible, so I decided to name it Project Possible'.

Nirmal ‘Nims' Purja is quite the character. Straightforward to a fault. He prefers to 'do and not chat'. His determination, belief and persistence are other-worldly. The youngest of his family, he was always competitive as a child. Growing up, he realised that the only competition he had was with himself. He applied for the Brigade of the Gurkhas in the British Army and was selected. After a few years, he decided that he wanted to join the special forces. He was the first Gurkha soldier to be selected for the Special Boat Service.

'Don’t be afraid to dream big. Doesn’t matter where you come from'.

14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible is a mountaineering documentary on a record-shattering, historic feat that was accomplished in 2018. A group of all-Nepali mountaineers summited all fourteen peaks within seven months, shattering six mountaineering world records, inspiring fellow mountaineers who were stuck on their expeditions to reach the summit and also participating in a couple of rescue missions on their way.

'Giving up is not in the blood, sir. It’s not in the blood'.

To say it is a crazy story is an understatement. Even the thought of what they achieved is so ridiculous, that it’s easy to dismiss it mentally without it even sinking in. Unfortunately, the way the film has been put together does very little to convince us otherwise. Let’s face it, if you’ve caught our review of Breathless K2 a few months ago, you’d remember how perilous the K2 expedition is; let alone the other 8000-ers. Each expedition takes months of planning; training oneself; coordinating the logistics, permissions, equipment and guides; and keeping track of the weather to find the right window, etc.

Imagine doing this for fourteen peaks that are all equally daunting, that too with a time window to do it in. Not to mention, there were many other challenges along the way. 14 Peaks treats these in a very matter-of-fact kind of way without dwelling on it too much. Maybe there is a lesson here – determine what really matters and keep your focus on achieving that.

'Most of us are forgetting that from the beginning of our life, we are approaching death... Don’t listen to others, you need to take chances and you need to take the risk sometimes in order to make things happen for yourself...One life, yeah? We live it'.

Nirmal’s account of life in the death zone is also available as a highly recommended ebook, Beyond Possible: '14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible'.

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Chinmaya Udghosh