Nirmal Purja: From Gurkha Soldier to Mountaineering Legend

Nirmal Purja, A.K.A Nimsdai, or simply Nims, is Nepali-born British Soldier turned mountaineer. The legendary climber holds jaw-dropping mountaineering world records, most prominently all 14 eight-thousanders summit in six months and six days. As of 2023, Purja has ascended Mount Everest six times.

Who Is Nims Purja?

Myagdi native, Nirmal Purja was born on 25 July 1983 in a village called Dana. Younger of four children, Purja’s father was an Indian Gurkha soldier, while his mother was a housewife as well as worked on other farms to support the family.

Purja’s parents are from two different Nepalese castes, which brought social and financial cut-offs from their families. With no family supports, the Purjas eventually faced an economic crisis earlier.

Though their economic background was no good, Nims’ elder brothers, all of whom served in the Gurkhas soldiers, funded together for Nims’s education and hostel at an English-speaking boarding school.

The hostel was bullied and had a strict environment. Quickly, he took kickboxing, using it as the strength to stand up to the school bullies. He remembers.

I had to learn how to survive in such a tough environment.”

nirmal purjaFollowing the family’s footsteps, Nims eventually worked through the Gurkha selection in 2002. Growing up, his only dream was to be a Gurkha soldier. The following year, he was in the Brigade of Gurkhas. With six years of hard work and determination, Purja became the first Gurkha in history to be selected for the Royal Navy’s Special Boat Service (SBS). During his time at SBS, he served as a cold-weather warfare specialist.

While still In SBS, Nims summited Lobuche East (6,119 m) in 2012. His first exploration of the Himalayas made him madly fall in love.

On 18th May 2014, Nims summited his first eight-thousander Dhaulagiri (8,167m) in 14 days only. Usually, climber takes up to two months to climb these kinds of mountains, but Nims was very good at altitude from the beginning.

Again later, two years, he came back to Nepal. This time with an aim to ascent of the world’s highest peak, Mt. Everest (8848.86m), summiting on 13th May 2016.

The following year, he would lead the Gurkha Expedition “G200E”; however, he would not say he had already submitted to Everest before. He successfully guided the 13 Gurkhas to summit Everest in May 2017 to commemorate 200 years of Gurkha service in the British Army.

Further, on 27th May 2017, Nims summited Mt. Everest for the third time.

What’s more? Purja is among the few Nepali who has earned “Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)” by Queen Elizabeth II, which he received in June 2018 for his high-altitude mountaineering service.

That same year, Nims decided to resign from the SBS as a Lance Corporal to pursue a full-time high-altitude mountaineering career and projects. He gave up his lucrative army pension, which he called “a life-changing” fortune.

Epic Quest to Summit the World’s 14 Highest Mountains

Who Is Nims Purja?
(Photo: Nirmal Purja / Project Possible)

In 2019, Nims came up with the “Project Possible,” fourteen eight-thousanders in 7 months. Initially, the project sounded a bit crazy and impossible to everyone. The previous world record for fourteen eight-thousanders was completed at 7 years, 11 months, and 14 days by Polish climber Jerzy Kukuczka in 1987. In 2013, South Korean Mountaineer Kim Chang-ho broke Kukuczka’s record by just 1 month and 8 days.

Beginning of Project Possible (Phase I): on 23rd April 2019 Nims summited Annapurna at around 2 pm. After he returned to the base camp: his ears were struck with the news a Malaysian climber, Wui KIn Chin, had been lost on the Annapurna for over 36 hours. Everyone predicted Chin dead.

The next morning a helicopter land in the base camp, and a Sherpa came to Nims and told Chin was alive, spotted waving from 7,500m up. Without any second thought, Nims got into the chopper and flew to Chin, where he was still waving. Not to mention chopper could not land near Chin for rescue, so someone had to attempt to on foot.

Nims, alongside his climbing companions: Mingma Sherpa, Gesman Tamang, and Gyalzen Sherpa, were dropped by helicopter just below Camp 3. It took them 18 hours to reach Chin.

The following day, the Nims team got Chin back to Camp 3. Then, Chin was evacuated to Kathmandu hospital and later transferred back to Singapore, where he eventually died in hospital on May 2, 2019.

Chin had successfully summitted Annapurna but collapsed on the descent. His Sherpa left him with oxygen and got down to get help. But unfortunately, no one in the camp lends a hand to help Chin up on the mountain.

Getting back to Mission Possible, the next mountain on his list is Dhaulagiri (8,167m). On 5th May 2019, Nims summited at 6 pm. Then the next stop was on the summit of Kanchenjunga (8,586m), which was completed in 22 hours and 30 minutes. Unbelievable.

By 24th May 2019, he had already submitted six eight-thousanders. Historically, he summited Everest (8,848m), Lhotse (8,516m), and Makalu (8,481m) within 2 days and 30 minutes. One of his photos from Everest went viral due to massive traffic on Everest.

Overall, Nims’s first phase was completed by summiting Nepal’s six 8,000-metre peaks in just 31 days, with four unplanned rescues.

For Phase II, Nims traveled to Pakistan. On 3rd July 2019, he summited Nanga Parbat (8,126m). On 15th July, he summited Gasherbrum I (8,010m), and on 18th July, Gasherbrum II (8,035m). On 24th July, he summited K2 (8,611m), and later two days, Broad Peak (8047 m).

The third phase of Project Possible started in September 2019. On 23rd September, Nims summited Cho Oyu (8188 m) and Manaslu (8163 m) on 27th September. For the last of 14 eight-thousanders, Shishapangma (8027 m), the government of Nepal requested Chinese authorities for the permit. On 29th October 2019, Nims successfully scaled the Shishapangma.

Is Nims Purja Fully Sponsored?

Is Nirmal Purja Fully sponsored?
Credit: Stefano Ardito

Funding for Project Possible was challenging before phase I. Nims stated he struggled to get any sponsorship because no brand or company would believe him if it was possible. For the Initial phase, he remortgaged his house and poured £55,000 into the project.

Later, Nims got financial aid from his friends from the special forces world and set up a GoFundMe.

Reportedly, Phase one started with around 75 percent funding. Further, Nims began working with a commercial climbing company, Elite Himalayan Adventures, along the way to fund the rest.

Since 2019, an American manufacturing company, Osprey, has been sponsoring Nims.

Coming to 2023, Nims Purja is already a brand in the mountaineering world.

14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible

Project Impossible 14 peaks summit
© 2023 The Adventure Blog

The documentary film 14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible follows Nirmal Purja and his team as they attempt to climb all 14 eight thousand peaks within a record time of under 7 months. Most of the footage was captured by the expedition member.

Later, the director, Torquil Jones, added more images and further decorated it with interviews, prominently interviews with Reinhold Messner, among other high-altitude mountaineers. Further, it also featured Purja’s family: mother, wife, and brothers.

The documentary premiered at the DOC NYC Film Festival, and on 29th November 2021, it was released on Netflix. The film was a huge success and garnered three nominations: the 2021 Hollywood Music in Media Awards, the 2022 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, and the British Academy Film Awards.

Did Nims Purja Conquered K2 In Winter?

In 2021, Nims Purja and nine other Nepali mountaineers: Mingma David Sherpa, Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, Mingma Tenzi Sherpa, Dawa Tenjin Sherpa, Geljen Sherpa, Kilu Pemba Sherpa, Pem Chiri Sherpa, Sona Sherpa, and Dawa Temba Sherpa, attempted K2 in winter.

16th January 2021 was a historic day, making the first winter ascent to K2 by nine Nine Nepali mountaineers along with Purja without the aid of supplemental oxygen.

Is Nims Purja Still Climbing?

Nims Purja continues his Mountain passion. He led various expeditions to eight-thousanders.

Furthermore, Purja, Mingma David Sherpa, and Mingma Tenzi Sherpa now run Elite Exped guiding company.

Nims Purja’s Wife: Is He Married?

nirmal purja suchi purja

Nirmal Purja is happily married to his wife Suchi Purja.

Mrs. Purja, born on 11 November 1988, is the daughter of Tej and Suku Gurung. Like Nims, his spouse’s family: Suchi’s dad and her brother Tejan Gurung are Gurkha soldiers. Meanwhile, Suchi pursued her career in the medical field and is a professional dentist.

Scrolling through Suchi Purja’s official Instagram, it appears that the couple has been together since 2008 and tied the knot on new years 1st of January. Mrs, Purja, on her Instagram, spotted a wishing anniversary on the new year. Neither Nims nor his wife has ever mentioned their love story in public.

In June 2022, the couple announced they were expecting a new member in the family. In August 2022, finally, the Purja duo welcomed their little one and named her Himani Purja.

Moreover, Suchi Purja starred in 14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible, where she is perceived by the world as a supportive wife.

Purja Famous Tattoo

Celebrating all 14 8,000-meter peaks (Courtesy Nims Purja)

Nims Purja has inked on his back Everence tattoo. Let the whole world know that tattoo is not ordinary. Nims Purja opened up about his Tattoo via his official Instagram; Everence is the mixed ink with the DNA collected from Nims’s parents, brothers, sister, and wife.

Nims further explained he wanted his family with him on the journey where they would never be able to go. The second most reason is having back of their Everence with him is a constant reminder that no matter what, I was making it home to my family.

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Net Worth In 2023

The undefeated mountaineer is indeed the wealthiest among the mountaineer. However, the detail of Nims Purja’s total net worth is confidential. However, many sources have estimated his fortune to be $5 million. Also, he is estimated to make $500,000 per annum.


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