‘Everest is not a tourist mountain’

A New York Police Department officer inspects the site where two buses collided at Times Square, New York City, the United States, on Aug. 5, 2014. Two sightseeing buses crashed at the tourist-dense site on Tuesday, injuring 14 people were injured, three of them critically, according to the latest report. (Xinhua/Qin Lang)

For this former Special Forces officer in the UK Navy, making the world record of climbing all 14 of the world’s highest peaks above 8000-meters (called the ‘eight-thousanders’) in a record time of six months and six days, it was about proving to the world the reach of human body and mind.….writes Sukant Deepak

“It was my way of saying impossible is nothing. I also wanted to highlight the name of Nepalese climbers and focus on climate change and global warming,” said Nimsdai Purja.

Purja, whose book ‘Beyond Possible’ has recently been published by Hodder and Stoughton/Hachette India told IANS that his training as a Special Forces combatant has been instrumental in the achievement.

“Coming from that background, it became second nature to operate effectively in extreme environments. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are — your decision making ability has to be right, everytime,” said Purja, who gave up the job and his pension to climb mountains.

“They mean everything to me — looking at them is inspirational, humbling. It’s a playground I can’t stay away from,” he said.

Believing that everybody has his/her mountains to climb in life, the mountaineer argues that his book conveys that no matter what one wants to achieve — to climb a high mountain or top his academic course, it is paramount there is intense passion for the activity being undertaken. “If you have the right kind of commitment and positive mind-set, you are bound to achieve the target.”

He added, “Through the book, I wanted to give a very clear message — if an underprivileged kid like me born in Nepal can achieve so much — from joining the Gurkhas, the first ever person from Nepal to pass the selection of SBS in 200 years of its history to climbing all the 14 highest mountains in six months and six days, it proves is that you don’t need to have opportunities on a platter or rich parents in order to make it in life. The key is to create your own opportunity and work hard for it. In boarding school, I used to wake up at 2 am to go for a long run while my friends slept.”

Purja, whose photo of the ‘traffic jam’ at Everest was carried by major publications across the world says the media completely misinterpreted the visual. “I have always said – if you are not a serious climber, don’t come for the Mount Everest. It is not a tourist mountain. Last year, we had only two days of good weather, and people had to grab the opportunity. That’s when the picture was taken. I just wish the media did some more research.”

Lamenting that despite the Himalayas being in India and Nepal, the region does not boast of many mountaineering schools, he said, “When you want to touch the extreme, you have to train, no? After all, don’t people learn how to fly an aircraft before they actually do? It makes all the sense to climb after acquiring some fundamental mountaineering skills.”

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