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Ex-soldier claims record for fastest scaling of 14 highest mountains

Nirmal Purja, known as Nims, reached the summit of the 14th highest peak Shishapangma, in the Himalayas, on Tuesday morning UK time.

Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja on the summit of Gasherbrum II as part of his record-breaking climb (Nims Purja/PA)
Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja on the summit of Gasherbrum II as part of his record-breaking climb (Nims Purja/PA)

By Scott D'Arcy, PA

A former special forces soldier has claimed the record for climbing the 14 highest mountains on Earth after achieving the feat in little more than six months.

Nirmal Purja, known as Nims, reached the summit of the 14th highest peak Shishapangma, in the Himalayas, on Tuesday morning UK time, completing his challenge within six months and six days.

He smashed the previous record, which stood at seven years and 10 months set by South Korean climber Kim Chang-ho.

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Nirmal Purja reached the summit of the 14 highest mountains in the world in under seven months (Nirmal Purja/PA)

Mr Purja powered to the top of the 14 mountains, each above 8,000 metres with peaks in the so-called “death-zone”, in just 190 days, starting with Annapurna on April 23 and taking in Everest in May and K2 in July.

Mr Purja said: “I am overwhelmed and incredibly proud to have completed this final summit and achieved my goal of climbing the world’s 14 tallest mountains in record time.

“It has been a gruelling but humbling six months, and I hope to have proven that anything is possible with some determination, self-belief and positivity.

“I could not have made it happen without the unending support of my friends and family who have been in my heart this entire time. We started with nothing, but look how far we’ve come.”

The former soldier, who completed the climbs with a rotating team of Nepalese climbers, also claimed to have notched up six other world records, including the fastest conquest of the highest five mountains in the world.

Mr Purja served in the British military for 16 years, 10 of which were spent in the special forces, and he was awarded an MBE by the Queen in 2018 for his achievement in extreme high-altitude mountaineering.

He is a cold weather warfare specialist, and said he was the first Gurkha to climb Everest while serving in the British military.

He also holds three existing Guinness World Records for the fastest consecutive climbs of Everest, Lhotse and Makalu in five days, the fastest time from the summit of Everest to the summit of Lhotse, and he was the first person to conquer Everest twice, Lhotse once and Makalu once, in the same season.

In 2016, he broke mountaineering conventions to rescue a climber left in the “Everest death zone”, bringing her to safety alone.

She is alive and well, living with her family in India.

PA

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