We’re going to the mountains this week, for news of an amazing human achievement. And not just any mountains, but the highest mountain range in the world – the Himalayas, between India and China.
It’s often called “The Roof of the World”. Including Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth, there are 14 Himalayan mountains over 8,000 metres high.
That’s 8 kilometres above sea level. Up there, it’s not only freezing (minus 20, even in summer!), there’s very little air – about a third of what we’re used to.
So, here we are, on top of the world. And who do we meet? Well, meet Nims.
Nims – or Nirmal Purja as his parents named him – climbed every one of those 14 summits last year. He called his adventure “Project Possible”.
Project Possible? It doesn’t seem a very exciting name, does it? But you need to know that nearly everyone told Nims it was impossible. The record for climbing all 14 “eight-thousanders” was 7 years. Nims said he would take 7 months.
“No one believed it could be done,” he said afterwards. “Some people made a joke out of it.”
The book of possible
Since conquering the last of the 14 a year ago, Nims has been writing a book. It’s just been published. He called it Beyond Possible. It’s not really about mountaineering, he says, but to help us see we can all do amazing things if we follow our dreams.
In his book, Nims describes his childhood in a poor village in Nepal, the country between India and China where some of the highest mountains are. He says “positive thinking” helped him pass exams and be good at sports. It meant keeping on trying, even when he couldn’t do something at first.
When he was 18, he joined the Gurkhas – Nepalese soldiers in the British army – and became an expert in surviving in extreme conditions. “You’re taught to come up with solutions,” Nims says.
Find your thing
A few years ago, he started to climb the high mountains back home in Nepal for the first time He discovered that his body adapted to the lack of air better than most other people. “This is my thing!” he remembers thinking as he raced happily uphill.
So, then he dreamed of breaking the record. He thought it would be good for his country, Nepal; he wanted to encourage people to look after the Earth and its wild places, like the mountains; and he wanted to help us all reach for our dreams.
Achieving the record was hard. There were times Nims thought he might not make it. He just had to keep putting one foot in front of another. It was dangerous. He fell. And he even rescued other mountaineers, slowing himself down. But he did it.
Going up mountains isn’t for everyone. But, says Nims, “we all have mountains to climb”, even if, for some people, their “mountain” right now might just be learning a new subject, or perhaps making friends in a new school.
For Nims, climbing the mountains was the easy part: “Writing the book was harder!” he told the Nepalese newspaper The Kathmandu Post.”
Now he’s preparing for his next dream, in a few weeks – to be the first person to climb the world’s second highest mountain, K2, in winter. Watch this space!
Cover photo: Nims at the summit of Makalu / Credit: Geljen Sherpa/Project Possible