“14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible”, A Short Review

“14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible”, Nirmal Purja A Short Review

Netflix just released a documentary called 14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible, that tells the story of Nirmal Purja aka Nimsdai, a Nepalese mountaineer who took a challenge to climb 14 mountain peaks that are higher than 8000 meters. The project was named Project Possible, and it included a bunch of mountaineers, who conquered the summits of fourteen highest mountain peaks of the world.

Who is Nirmal Purja?

nirmal purja 14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible

Nirmal Purja, popularly known as Nimsdai (Nims, which is short for Nirmal, and dai means elder brother in Nepali), is Nepalese mountaineer, who rose to fame after climbing the highest mountains peaks in the world in a short span of time, and is also a record holder of multiple mountain world records.

Purja was born in the Myagdi district, which is in the Dhaulagiri zone of Nepal, on 25th July, 1983. Later, he moved to Chitwan district, where he grew up. He has three older brothers and a sister.

In the year 2003, Purja joined Royal Gurkha Rifles, and in the year 2009, he joined Special Boat Service (SBS), which is the special force unit for the Royal Navy. However, he quit the military in 2018 as a Lance Corporal to focus more on his mountaineering career.

How did Nirmal Purja get into mountaineering?

According to Purja, it was in the year 2012, when he first stepped on the mountains. He reached the summit of Lobuche East mountain (6,119 m), without any previous experience as a mountaineer. This followed Dhaulagiri (8,187 m) on 18th May, 2014, which also became his first mountain above 8000 metres, that too in just 15 days. On 13th May, 2016, Purja finally conquered the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest (Sagarmatha in local language), which has an elevation of 8848 metres.

He conquered Mount Everest for the second time on 15th May, 2017. This time he led the Gurkha Expedition (known as G200E), which consisted of 13 Gurkhas. This expedition was carried out to commemorate 200 years of Gurkha service in the British Army. On 9th June, 2018, he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II herself, for his outstanding work in high altitude mountaineering

About 14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible:

14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible

Reinhold Messner, an Italian mountaineer is the first person ever to climb all the mountains above 8000 meters, back in 1978, and it took him 16 years to do so. Here entered Nirmal Puja, whom Jimmy Chin, a fellow mountaineer, describes him as, “a crazy guy from Nepal”, who took a challenge to climb all fourteen eight-thousanders around the spring of 2019. He says that the fastest record to climb all the fourteen eight-thousanders was seven years, and he challenged himself that he can do this in the span of seven months.

The plan that Purja made was divided into three phases. The first phase included six mountains from Nepal: Mt. Annapurna, Mt. Dhaulagiri, Mt. Kanchenjunga, Mt. Everest, Mt. Lhotse, and Mt. Makalu. The second phase included five mountains in Pakistan: Mt. Nanga Parbat, Mt. Gasherbrum I, Mt. Gasherbrum II, Mt. Broad Peak, and Mt. K2.

While for the third phase, he will need permission for climbing Mt. Manaslu, Mt. Cho Oyu, and Mt. Shishapangma, which is located at the Nepal-Tibet border. Hence, he named this project “Project Possible”, because everyone told him that his plan was impossible.

Suchi Purja, Nirmal’s wife, is introduced who tells that she is not “surprised” about the plan that her husband made because he is “constantly thinking of something”. Suchi and Nirmal got married in 2008 at a young age. He left for the project and his team included Mingma David, Geljen, Lakpa Dendi, and Gesman.

As we said, many people did not think that it was possible, including Garrett Madison, one of Nirmal’s friends and a high altitude mountaineer.

At first, the team had a plan to conquer Mount Annapurna, so they went there. Don Bowie, who is also a high altitude mountaineer, explains how big and dangerous that mountain is, as ⅓ mountaineers die while climbing.

He also goes on to say that he has tried five times, but have not been able to reach the top. Mingma David tells that Nirmal has teamed up with his uncle when they climbed Mount Lobuche, and he will support Nirmal like his own brother.

On 23rd April 2019, the team Project Possible made it to the summit of Mount Annapurna in just one day, making it through the snow that is almost six feet deep.

Don Bowie was also with him, and he says how proud he is of Nirmal. The clip also goes on to show how they rescued a lost mountaineer with the help of a helicopter.

The flashback of Purja is shown, and it is revealed that he became a Gurkha in 2003. Also, his father was a Gurkha before. His father is paralyzed and his mother is very sick, so she has to go to hospital twice a week.

The next peak to conquer was Mount Dhaulagiri. The other members of the project explains that there is a huge difference working for a westerner and a Nepali because they both can feel proud for their own country. A snow storm took place there, and battling that snow storm, they finally reached the top of Mount Dhaulagiri after a climb of 21 hours, on 12th May, 2019.

The story moves back to 2008, where Suchi tells that Nims used to wake up at 2 or 3 am in the morning, run 20 kilometers carrying 75 pounds on his back, and then would go to gym. He also became the first Gurkha in history to be selected in Special Boat Service (SBS).

He also explains a tragedy that almost took his life. In 2011, during a gun shooting on the rooftop, a sniper aimed at him in the back of his neck, but it hit his rifle, and he fell down from the roof. At first, he thought that he had been shot in the face, but luckily he was saved from the bullet by just a few centimeters.

When Suchi’s friends ask her how she handles this situation, she says that if she keep worrying about Nirmal, then it won’t do any good for her and she would break down, and that she have to be strong and never wanted to deviate him from his dreams and goals as he knows what he wants to do in his life.

The third mountain to conquer was Kanchenjunga. Many people usually climb that mountain in four stages from Camp 1 to Camp 4, but because of the weather, they have to climb it in just one day. They were also a bit hungover so it is going to be very difficult for them. The team reached the top of Mt. Kanchenjunga on 15th May, 2019.

On the way back, they also try to rescue another mountaineer, who was in desperate need of help. Unfortunately, that mountaineer died in Nirmal’s arms as nobody came to help and he was in a desperate need of oxygen.

All of a sudden, he experienced HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema), which is a medical condition in which the brain swells with fluid because of the physiological effects of travelling to a high altitude. At that moment, he started to have illusions and saw someone, whom he thought was an yeti (a mythical ape-like creature that lives in the mountains), but turns out it was another mountaineer who was lost and also developed HACE. They gathered their strength to get back to the base.

In 2018, James Barber, an altitude performance specialist, tested Purja ability to get through three minutes at 6,000 meters by cycling to see how his body reacts to lack of oxygen while also making decisions quickly and accurately. Even the world record holders have only lasted 90 seconds doing that but Purja managed to complete 3 minutes.

In October of the same year, Purja decided to leave the army, which was opposed by his elder brother Kamal Purja, as their mother is ill and Nirmal is the biggest financial supporter of the family. Kamal also advised him that he only has six years remaining in the army, and then he will get his pensions, and he can do whatever he wants, but Nirmal didn’t listen after which the two brothers didn’t talk for about three months.

The financial crisis hit the family very hard as no one was willing to support him and his dreams. In the end, he had no choice but to remortgage the house, but Suchi believed in him and supported him.

The fourth mountain was the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest. The Sherpas help the climbers a lot, it won’t be possible to climb the mountain without their help. Hundreds of climbers come to climb the peak every year and even when they were there, the queue of people was extremely long.

Including Mount Everest, he also wanted to climb Mount Lhotse and Mount Makalu. At 5:30 of 22nd May, 2019, the team finally conquered the highest mountain Mount Everest, and it was only the 29th day of their project. While descending down, Purja took a picture of the long queue of people on the way to the peak, which went viral in various international media.

On the very same day, 22nd May, 2019, the team conquered Mount Lhotse, and on 24th May, 2019, they reached the summit of Mount Makalu. It was a new world record to climb three of these mountains in just 48 hours. With this, the first phase of Project Possible was complete.

On the very same day, 22nd May, 2019, the team conquered Mount Lhotse, and on 24th May, 2019, they reached the summit of Mount Makalu. It was a new world record to climb three of these mountains in just 48 hours. With this, the first phase of Project Possible was complete.

The footage shows the time when Edmund Hillary, a mountaineer from New Zealand, climbed Mount Everest for the first time with Tenzing Norgay Sherpa. He also expresses his displeasure that when the western people climb the mountain with the help of Sherpas, the Sherpas are not given much attention and their name is not disclosed most of the time. So, Purja also dropped the names of Mingma, Gesman, Geljen and Lakpa, so that they also get equal attention and they can shape their future in this field.

For the phase 2 of the project, they travel to Pakistan to climb Mount Nanga Parbat, Mount Gasherbrum I, Mount Gasherbrum II, Broad Peak and Mount K2.

On 3rd July 2019, the team reached the summit of Mount Nanga Parbat. While walking down, Purja explains that he slipped and fell nearly 100 meters until he grabbed a rope and survived. At this point, he was also criticized for the style in which he climbed the mountains because the eight-thousanders should be done in an Alpine style, which means no use of oxygen, but Nirmal and his team were climbing it in a hybrid style, where they use oxygen after 8000 meters. Nirmal and even Messner said that it’s not easy to climb even with the oxygen.

On 15th July, 2019, they reached the top of Gasherbrum I, and after three days on 18th July, the team reached the top of Gasherbrum II.

Now they headed back to Mount K2, which is a very tough one to climb. There, they also met Klara Kolouchova, a Czech mountaineer who is also a mother of two children. Many mountaineers were already struggling, until Team Possible came and helped them, and also partied that night.

The next day, Nirmal made plans, also keeping an eye for the avalanches that occurred there. The team heads up to the top through all the difficult and steep mountains, and on 24th July 2019, the team finally conquered the summit of Mount K2, the highest mountain in Pakistan. He also made way for other 24 climbers to reach the top including Kolouchova, the very next day.

After 36 hours on 26th July, 2019, the team was on the summit of Mount Broad Peak. This ends the phase 2 of Project Possible and they completed this phase in just 23 days.

After this, the health of Nirmal’s mother went very bad and she was admitted to Grande International Hospital in Kathmandu. She had a heart attack, and Nirmal’s younger sister, Anita, says that the doctors need to carry out a surgery to make her health stable, but that is very risky and she could also die. However, a miracle happened and she survived. After all she is a mother of a fighter.

For phase 3, the team went to Mount Manaslu, but bad news arrived when the Chinese government rejected the permission request to climb Mount Shishapangma, and the climbing of Mount Cho Oyu would be closed the next week. So, they have to rush to Mount Cho Oyu leaving Mount Manaslu.

On 23rd September, 2019, they reached the top of Mount Cho Oyu, and headed back to climb Mount Manaslu. They conquered Mount Manaslu on 27th September 2019. As the Chinese government didn’t give him permission to climb Mount Shishapangma, he felt that Mount Manaslu could be his last mountain.

Purja went on to talk with the Nepalese government officials and also the former Prime Minister, to have a diplomatic conversation with the Chinese government. He decided to use the power of social media, where he pleaded with his followers to send an email to the Chinese government to give him the permission to complete his project. He got a lot of support from the people and they also wrote to the Chinese government, including the American rock climber, Conrad Anker. Finally, they succeeded in convincing the Chinese government and gave the team the permission to climb Mount Shishapangma.

Finally on 29th October 2019, the team reached the top of Mount Shishapangma, and there was no limit to their happiness. It was really a proud moment for the team as well as the country.

Also, Nirmal’s mother arrived to him from helicopter even though she was sick, so that she can celebrate her son’s success with him. Even Suchi was very happy with the success of her husband. The Nepalese media covered this news largely, and he pleaded with the media to spread this news so much that it reaches an international level and attention like the westerners get.

Hence, he completed this project in six months and six days.

A short review:

The documentaries are fun to watch if they are executed well, and must say that 14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible, really stands firm in keeping the ground. The cinematography, the execution of the plot, the backstage, the interviews, everything is well on point.

We really liked how the sole focus was not only on Nirmal Purja, but also on other people in the team and his family. The emotions and the family bond that was presented was beautiful. We really loved how much Nirmal’s mother, Purna Kumari Purja, loved and cared for him.

The way Suchi supported her husband was a joy to watch and he is very lucky to get such a supportive wife like her.

The views and the sceneries present in the documentary were extraordinary. Most of us are not very familiar with how mountaineering works, and this movie is really an eye-opener and an inspiration for those who want to pursue their career in this field.

It also helps us to explore how huge the world actually is, and how tall and dangerous these mountains stand. Watching this documentary, people may get a mixed feeling that they even want to climb the mountains and then again change their mind in the very next moment, and again they go back to the former mindset after some time.

Overall, the experience was amazing and we really enjoyed watching this beautiful documentary.

Talking about negative, the later plot seems to be rushed a little, as the team is directly shown on the summit without us the viewers having the knowledge of the path. Especially in the case of Mount Broad Peak and Mount Manaslu.

But we understand as the team can’t keep on shooting the videos of each and every moment. We salute Nirmal Purja and his team for carrying out Mission Possible and making us believe that nothing is impossible. We rate it 4.5/5.

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