For some, climbing one of the highest mountains in the world is a lifetime achievement. For Nepalese climber Nirmal “Nims” Purja, the subject of the new Netflix documentary 14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible. All will be the healthy season. Purja has set his own goal – a “possible project”. To climb the fourteen peaks of the “eight thousand” (mountains over 8000 meters) in one climbing season. Director Torquil Jones follows Purja on this quest that, if successful, will be the fastest show ever.
Behind Reinhold Messner’s legendary ascent:
When the legendary Italian climber named Reinhold Messner became the first person to climb. All 14 eight thousand in the world – a feat he accomplished in 1986. It was an astonishing feat that culminated in sixteen years of work. It’s been seven years in 2019. The fastest thing is ever done. It’s unthinkable to complete feats in just one season. But the spirit of mountaineering is finding the unthinkable and making it happen. The world of rock climbing was previously no stranger to Nimes Purja. But he has already become a legend in his field.
There are occasional interviews with figures from the rock climbing world. Including Reinhold Messner himself, but Purja is the front, centre, and the only star of the film; confident, calm, full of confidence in their success and performance Nepalese climbing community on the world stage.
“Usually for one 8000, it’s a huge task,” said famed climber Jimmy Chin at the start of 14 peaks. “This was a massive two-month expedition just to climb the 8,000-meter peak. But sometimes in the current spring of 2019, the world of mountaineering started talking about this crazy man from Nepal. He was a man no one had ever heard of asking, “Who the heck is he?” That Nims Purja?”
Much of the screen time in 14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible is devoted to answering this question. And understanding people is critical to understanding. How such an extraordinary achievement came to be and why everyone would be okay with it. Purja is a Nepalese citizen and former member of the British Armed Forces. The first Gurkha (as Nepalese soldiers in the British Army) were elected to the British Special Forces. He was a fearless and perfect man who narrowly escaped battle death while on duty. The unforgettable moments recreated in animation from the more influential film.
Purja not only strives to make her name known around the world:
Even though he planned to. He is also committed to advancing mountaineering goals in his homeland, home to some of the highest peaks in the world, where western mountaineers have long dominated the title while relying on Nepalese Sherpas to support their expeditions. He mortgaged his house to fund the expedition and put together a team of compatriots to help with his search, knowing this would help them build their climbing careers.
The challenge of conquering 8000m in one season goes beyond climbing. Clean logistics is confusing, and tight timeframes leave little room for flexibility and sometimes require sub-optimal effort. The bad weather forced Purja to hike Kanchenjunga – usually four days long – to hang out for a day. He started his seasonal campaign without getting permission from the Chinese government to climb the Tibetan peak of Shishapangma; if they refuse, the settlement is not in his hands.
One hundred minutes may be a long time if you’re not an avid rock climber. But you move quickly from the summit to summit, with tension rising dramatically as the season’s progress. It’s an exciting adventure, as well as a spectator.
The best outdoor documentaries can inspire you. As if you were alone in the mountains. But without ever leaving your comfy couch, and that’s what makes 14 peaks.