The Ultimate Climbing Record Has Just Been Smashed

Nirmal Purja summited the planet's 14 tallest peaks in 189 days
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2019 2:34 PM CDT
The Ultimate Climbing Record Has Just Been Smashed
Mount Shishapangma, which Nimal Purja reached the summit of on Tuesday, is shown.   (Getty Images)

Nirmal Purja on Tuesday described the last six months as "grueling." That's likely an understatement. The 36-year-old Nepalese man has obliterated the world record for summiting the 14 peaks on the planet that measure at least 8,000 meters, or roughly 26,350 feet. The record had been held by Kim Chang-ho; the South Korean managed the feat in seven years, 10 months, and six days, beating the previous record holder by about a month. Purja's time: six months and six days, reports the Guardian. The first of his 14 climbs was Annapurna, on April 23, reports CNN; on Tuesday he made it to the top of Shishapangma in Tibet. One of the mountains he climbed in the interim was Everest, and a photo he took of the traffic jam en route to the summit was widely shared.

The Guardian notes all 14 peaks were first summited in 1986 by Reinhold Messner; who also holds the record for being the first to do so without supplemental oxygen. Purja relied on supplemental oxygen during his climbs due, he said, to the intensity of the speed he was attempting. "You can always go again without oxygen if that is what is so important, but you can't if you’re dead," he said. Edurne Pasaban became the first woman to scale all 14 in 2010. CNN reports 40 climbers in total have done so. One other impressive achievement managed by Purja, who spent 10 years with the British special forces, during his record-setting quest: He climbed Everest, Lhotse, and Makalu consecutively in only 48 hours. (More mountain climber stories.)

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