The doctor describes his attempt to climb all 14 peaks in the world in seven months which are over 8,000 metres. The previous record for such a feat was seven years. An eight-thousander climb is an enormous effort that can take months, take a significant toll on the body and require good luck in terms of weather and conditions.
“Anything above 8,000 feet is in the ‘death zone’,” says Jimmy Chin, filmmaker and fellow climber best known for the Oscar-winning climbing documentary “Free Solo” in the film. “You’re breathing about a third of the amount of oxygen at sea level.”
Born and raised at a relatively moderate altitude in western Nepal, Purja spent 16 years in the British Armed Forces, initially as part of the notoriously tough brigade of Gurkhas and then in the elite Special Boat Service unit, the UK equivalent of a Navy SEAL . , He didn’t climb his first mountain until 2012, but he found he had a lot to do with it.
“Physically, I believe I have a natural gift. No matter how dire the challenge, I am not one to give up. I can climb without sleep or rest,” says Purja , who now lives with his wife in Eastley, England, where he was stationed in the military. A scene in the film involves him visiting a London clinic that studies performance at high altitude, and a doctor there. says that the climber has a unique physiology that allows him to use more oxygen at higher altitudes, leading to better mental and physical performance.
Purja and his team of Nepalese Sherpas begin Annapurna, a difficult peak. “For every three climbers who make it to the summit, one dies trying,” says Don Bowie, a high-altitude climber who has made five unsuccessful attempts in 13 years. “It gives you the feeling of going to war, and you’re going to fight some really mean battles.”
Purja and his men must climb into waist-deep snow and the danger of an avalanche is always there. But they manage to summit in late April, brushing off the challenge.
The team descends into camp for the night, only to learn that there is a climber from the other team trapped on the mountain. Exhausted, Purja and three other members of his crew – Sherpa Mingma, Gessman and Geljen – head back to the mountain. (The film makes a point of naming and characterizing the various Sherpas involved in Purja’s team, as Sherpas are often thought of as faceless helpers by Western climbers.) They rescue the man and bring him down to the camp to find him. He could be sent by helicopter. the protection.
“It is not in my blood to leave anyone,” says Purja.
after reaching the peak of the next month kangchenjunga, the team meets another stranded climber just 100 meters from the top of the mountain. The man was “completely messed up” and out of oxygen, recalls Purge. He and his companions give the man their oxygen and call for help, but as night falls, help never arrives. Purja waits with the man for more than 12 hours, threatening his life. The man tragically dies in her arms. From there, Purja attempts to descend on his own in the dark, but after several hours without supplemental oxygen, he himself is in poor condition and suffers from HACE: high-altitude cerebral edema. He begins to hallucinate in the dark of night, and when he comes across another lost climber, he believes the man to be a giant yeti.
He eventually makes it down the mountain, but, after that ordeal, says the somewhat cocky Purja, “for the first time, I started questioning my plan.”
But, he insists. The team climbed the remaining three mountains in Nepal – Everest, Lhotse and Makalu – within 48 hours, setting a new world record in late May. The biggest challenge with Everest is the multitude of hundreds of Westerners and their Sherpas eager to climb the mountain.
“The queue was so intense, people were fighting,” says Purja. While going down Everest, he snaps a picture of a high-altitude traffic jam that goes viral and ends up on the front page of the New York Times.
The part next goes to Pakistan, whose five-8,000 people are “some of the most inhospitable and dangerous in the world”, according to Chin.
Descending his first mountain in the country, Nanga Parbat, Purja slips and slips about 100 meters down the mountain before managing to grab a random rope.
“I always tell myself, I am not going to die today. Maybe tomorrow, but not today,” he says.
The most difficult of Pakistan’s peaks is the famous K2, and when Purja and his team reach the base camp, spirits run low. Avalanche conditions have prevented people from climbing the summit, and it is doubtful that Poorja should attempt it as well. On their first night at the camp, Purja and his team pop open a few bottles and throw a party to try to lift the spirits.
“Tonight we drink, tomorrow we make plans,” he tells everyone.
He and his team make K2 a particularly treacherous section by climbing in the middle of the night, when temperatures are at their coldest, so the ice is harder and there is less avalanche risk. Many discouraged climbers, including a mother of two at Base Camp, have been able to follow their track and summit successfully.
After such physical feats, the bureaucracy itself almost curtails the success of the part. The last mountain on their list is Shishapangma in Tibet, and climbing it requires special permission from China. His request is initially denied, so Purja petitions government officials and urged his social media followers to write to the Chinese government and demand access to the mountain. He eventually succeeds. On October 29, six months and six days after climbing his first peak, he makes it to the top of shishapangma,
Poorja calls her dying mother from the top of the mountain and says, “We did it.”
The film ends happily, with Purja looking forward to future endeavors and drawing more attention to Nepali climbers like himself.
“What’s next?” he asks. “We go even bigger. Just wait and see.”