Last April, Nims Dai embarked on an extraordinary challenge: to reach, in 7 months, the 14 summits of more than 8,000 metres. This Tuesday, the Nepalese has just achieved this feat. A look back at these 189 days.
Mission accomplished for Nims Dai. While the previous record for climbing the world's 14 highest peaks was 7 years, Nims Dai (36) has just set a new one, reaching the summit of Shishapangma (8,027 m) on Tuesday. From now on, the reference is 7 months.
Who is Nims Dai?
Born into a modest family in a village in northwestern Nepal, Nims spent 16 years in the British Special Forces. In April, he embarked on a project whose objective seemed insurmountable. The Possible Project aimed to reach 14 peaks above 8,000 metres in one season, or 7 months. In this race against time, the one whose real name is Nirmal Purja surrounded himself with a whole team of sherpas who accompanied him during his climbs, often travelled by helicopter and made his expeditions with oxygen. In order to finance his project, he also had to call on several sponsors. The Project Possible team has also participated in several rescue operations for climbers in distress. Back, step by step on this crazy challenge.
What peaks have Nils Dai climbed?
🏔Annapurna 1 (8,091 m), April 23
To start his project, Nirmal Purja chose to tackle Annapurna as soon as the summer season opened. On March 28, the Nepalese announced that he and his team had reached the base camp in the Nepalese mountains. Avalanches are numerous, the team in charge of opening the way and fixing the ropes advances with caution. After several weeks on the spot, the path to the top of the "most dangerous mountain in the world" is paved. Nims Dai reached it on April 23rd. On the same day, 31 other people, including 17 sherpas, followed him. Annapurna is the first "8,000" to be climbed this season. The possible Project is launched.
But as the Nepalese team was descending, it was flown back to Camp 3 by helicopter to participate in a rescue mission for a struggling mountaineer at an altitude of 7,500 m. This one was found and descended and the Project Possible team headed towards the second summit of the expedition, the Dhaulagiri.
🏔Dhaulagiri (8,167 m), May 12
Nims Dai and his team are facing several climate challenges on the 7th highest peak in the world. Winds gusting to over 70 km/h make their progress very complicated. So much so that some media reports mention a forced U-turn. The Project Possible team does not communicate very explicitly for several days. But it finally confirms that Nims Dai reached the summit of Dhaulagiri on May 12 at 6 p.m., before going down at night and boarding a helicopter directly to the Kangchenjunga base camp. "Honestly, I would say that the Dhaulagiri was much 5 times harder than the Annapurna, because of the weather," says the project's initiator on his social networks.
🏔Kangchenjunga (8,586 m), May 15
Just three days later, the Nepalese reached the summit of Kangchenjunga, still in Nepal, after a lightning ascent. Present at the base camp on May 14 at 11 a.m., Nims Dai and his sidekick Mingma David Sherpa left two hours later to reach the top of the mountain in less than a day (22 hours). During the descent, the team tries to save two other mountaineers in distress. At the same time, Nirmal Purja is calling for more and more financial support in order to plan the second part of the Possible Project.
🏔Everest (8,848 m) and Lhotse (8,516 m), May 22
On May 22nd, at 5:30 am, Nims Dai is on the roof of the world, at the top of Everest. Less than half a day later, he poses at the top of the neighbouring Lhotse. It is on the occasion of this ascent that the Nepalese captures a photo that has been covered by the media. Indeed, according to him, nearly 320 people were then present on Everest, creating a queue to reach its highest point. By reaching the summit of Everest to the summit of Lhotse in 10 hours and 15 minutes, Nims Dai broke the previous record he had already set himself. As soon as he got back down, he and his team boarded a helicopter to go directly to the Makalu base camp.
🏔Makalu (8,485 m), May 24
Thanks to this fast sequence, rather mild weather conditions, and a direct ascent, without stopping at the different camps, Nims Dai reached the summit of Makalu, the fifth highest in the world, on May 24. The Nepalese climbed three mountains over 8,000 metres in 48 hours, and set a new record by climbing six in a month. The first part of the Possible Project is completed.
🏔Nanga Parbat (8,125 m), July 3
Initially scheduled for June, the second phase of the Possible Project, which is scheduled to take place in Karakoram (northern Pakistan), is somewhat delayed due to a lack of funding. But a few weeks later, the adventure can resume thanks to a new sponsor. Nims Dai advertises it on social networks in a surprising way, with a picture of him at the top of Nanga Parbat. Benefiting from the ropes laid by other Himalayas to Camp 3, the Project Possible team then paved the way to the summit.
Once down, she had to face many problems (complicated weather, mechanical breakdowns of the vehicles). It was then decided to cover the remaining 40 km on foot, carrying the equipment, to reach the Gasherbrum I base camp in order to save time, or at least stop wasting it.
🏔Gasherbrum I (8,080 m) on 15 July and Gasherbrum II (8,035 m) on 18 July
Despite fatigue, the summit of the 11th highest mountain in the world was reached on July 15. In continuity, Nims Dai climbed Gasherbrum II, reaching its peak 3 days later. Concerned about the bad weather conditions in the region, the Nepalese is wondering what to do about his expedition because many climbers are abandoning the climb of the K2.
🏔K2 (8,611 m), July 24
On July 20, Nirmal Purja arrived at the K2 base camp where he met Mike Horn who had just abandoned his attempt to climb the "Wild Mountain". Like the South African, several Himalayas had to turn back on their final ascent because of the wind and snowfall. Despite this, on July 24, Nims Dai, accompanied by four sherpas and a team from Seven Summit Trek, paved the way to the summit. This group is the first to successfully climb the K2 of the season. "Once again, the Project Possible team has made the impossible possible, thanks to a positive attitude and a lot of determination, teamwork and leadership," reacted Nims Dai.
🏔Broad Peak (8,047 m), July 26
Less than 10 kilometres from K2, Broad Peak was the 11th peak on the Nims Dai list, and the last of the second phase of the project. Two days after the difficult ascent of the "wild mountain" and after a short rest at the base camp, the Nepalese and six members of his team reached the peak of the "wide summit" on July 26 at 8:50 a.m. local time. A direct ascent from Camp 1 to the summit that lasted 15 hours. "At one point, I thought about turning back for safety reasons, but after a discussion in which we reassessed the risks, we decided to go to the top," explains Nirmal Purja.
🏔Cho Oyu (8,201 m), September 23
After a two-month break and several interventions in the British media, Project Possible resumed in September with the announcement by Nims Dai of his presence at the Manaslu base camp. But, under pressure of time, he finally decided to join the Cho Oyu as a priority, which was banned from October 1, by decision of the Chinese authorities. Present at Camp 1 on September 19, then at Camp 2 the next day, the Nepalese had to wait a few days due to bad weather conditions.
The ascent of Cho Oyu was done in the company of Gesman Tamang. The two men arrived at the same time as the sherpas team responsible for installing the fixed ropes to the top and Ecuadorian Esteban Topo Mana.
🏔Manaslu (8,163 m), September 27
On September 26, Nirmal Purja posted a message on social networks announcing that he was at Camp 4 of Manaslu, and that he was aiming for a final ascent the next day. 157 days after the beginning of his expedition, Nims Dai reached the 13th peak of an "8,000". But the Nepalese is concerned that his project could be challenged by the Chinese authorities who are blocking access to the 14th and last top of the list of the Possible Project, the Shishapangma.
🏔Shishapangma (8,027 m), October 29
On October 21, the Project Possible team announced that they were at the Shishapangma base camp. A few days earlier, Nims Dai had declared that he had received permission to climb the mountain thanks to the action of the Nepalese government. Faced with very difficult weather conditions and health problems (toothache, frostbite), the team does not want to take excessive risks and is patient. Thanks to a more favourable weather window, it finally reached the last peak at an altitude of more than 8,000 metres on the Possible Project list on October 29 at 8:58 a.m. local time. The incredible challenge was completed in 189 days, six months and six days.