“I’m used to taking risks,” says the former soldier of the British Gurkha Regiment. Nirmal, called “Nims” Purja, has finished his military service. Currently the 36-years-old Nepalese is making headlines on the world’s highest mountains. Nims has set himself the goal of scaling all 14 eight-thousanders in seven months. And in spite of temporary financing problems his “Project Possible” is well on track. Although he arrived late in Pakistan, Purja has already summited Nanga Parbat and – within three days – Gasherbrum I and II. His progress report: “I have now completed 9x8000m peaks this season, making countless difficult decisions but always keeping myself and my team safe.”
How big is the risk above the Bottleneck?
On K2, Purja will probably have to take a bigger risk than during his last ascents. With four compatriots (two from his own “Elite Himalayan Adventures” team, two from the “Seven Summit Treks” team) Nims wants to fix the ropes in the summit area above the so-called “Bottleneck” and reach the highest point at 8,611 meters on Wednesday. “If I say I’m not nervous at all about leading the summit fixing team on K2, then I’m lying,” Purja admitted before leaving.
Last week, the first summit attempts on K2 had failed above the Bottleneck at about 8,300 meters – too deep snow, too great avalanche danger. Too dangerous, reckoned operators such as “Madison Mountaineering”, “Furtenbach Adventures” and “Imagine Nepal” (the team switched to Gasherbrum II) and declared their K2 expeditions finished.
Ballinger: “Great influx of stoke and strength”
Behind Nirmal and Co. those climbers ascend who have not yet left the second highest mountain on earth and are still hoping for a summit success. Among them are the German Herbert Hellmuth, who is tackling K2 for the third time after 2015 and 2016, and also some mountaineers who want to climb without bottled oxygen, such as the Austrian Hans Wenzl or the American Adrian Ballinger and the Equadorian Carla Perez.
„Nims and his Sherpa team have added a great influx of stoke and strength on K2, just as 90% of climbers left the mountain,” Ballinger thanked Purja even before the ascent. “With Carla and I attempting without oxygen, we know we will not be much help opening a route through deep unconsolidated snow, never mind fixing ropes for others.” Nims and his team use breathing masks on their ascent – as do the three climbers who support Ballinger and Perez.