Shishapangma, of all places. The lowest of the 14 eight-thousanders is not only one of the three peaks missing from the Nepalese Nirmal “Nims” Purja to successfully complete his “Project Possible” – all 14 eight-thousanders in seven months. One of his faithful helpers, Mingma Gyabu Sherpa, also wants to scale the 8,027-meter-high mountain in Tibet this fall. If successful, Mingma “David”, as he also calls himself, would have completed the 14 eight-thousanders. But it is still uncertain whether the Chinese-Tibetan authorities will really make an exception for Nims’ team. As reported, no permits are supposed to be issued for Shishapangma in the upcoming fall season. In this case, the mountain would remain closed.
Six times on the top of Mount Everest
Mingma David has joined Purja on seven of the eleven successful eight-thousander ascents since last April: in Nepal on Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Kangchenjunga, in Pakistan on Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum I and II and Broad Peak. The 30-year-old had already climbed the other eight-thousanders, with the exception of Shishapangma, some of them several times: six times Mount Everest (in 2010/11/12/13/17/18), two times K2 (2014/18), three times Manaslu (2012/15/18) as well as once each Cho Oyu (2011), Makalu (2014) and Lhotse (2018).
“Sherpa of the Year 2019”
Mingma Gyabu Sherpa was born in 1989 in Taplejung, not far from Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. In 2008, he started his career in mountain tourism. He worked his way up to become an expedition leader. As such he also works for the expedition operator “Elite Himalayan Adventures“, which was founded by the former British Gurkha soldier Nirmal Purja. Mingma David is also an experienced mountain rescuer who according to his own words has already successfully rescued more than 100 climbers, also from the highest mountains, including Everest. Last January – even before the start of the “Project Possible” – the Union of Asian Alpine Associations (UAAA) awarded Mingma David the title “Sherpa of the Year” for his outstanding achievements.
Cho Oyu via the south side?
His “boss” Nirmal Purja needs, besides Shishapangma, only Cho Oyu and Manaslu to complete his project. The team can tackle Manaslu located in Nepal without bureaucratic hurdles. However, the Chinese-Tibetan authorities will probably only leave Cho Oyu open until 1 October. Reportedly Nims and Co. are thinking about climbing the mountain via the much more difficult Nepalese south side.
In fall 1978, the two Austrians Eduard Koblmüller and Alois Furtner were the first climbers to scale the mountain (without permit) from this side. Their route through the Southeast Face has never been repeated until today. The last successful ascent of Cho Oyu from Nepal was ten years ago: in spring 2009, the two Kazakhs Denis Urubko and Boris Dedeshko opened a new route through the South Face.
On Shishapangma, Nirmal Purja and Mingma David Sherpa have no way of legally bypassing the Chinese-Tibetan authorities. The eight-thousander is the only one completely located in Tibet – even if the South Face is only about five kilometers as the crow flies from the Nepalese border.
Update 29 October: Alongside Nirmal Purja, Mingma David Sherpa has scaled Shishapangma, completing his eight-thousander collection.