Born in Nepal, Nirmal Purja (also known as Nims or Nimsdai) had a distinguished 16-year military career, of which he spent 6 years as a Gurkha and 10 years with the UK Special Forces. He has since become a truly historic mountaineer, accumulating an ever-growing list of record-breaking summits alongside many high-altitude rescue missions. In addition, he has been awarded an MBE for outstanding achievement in extreme high-altitude mountaineering by Her Majesty the Queen.
Astonishingly, Purja didn’t grow up in the shadow of the Himalayas. In fact, he was born in the Dhaulagiri region of Nepal and raised in Chitwan, in the country’s flatlands. He joined the Gurkhas in the British military in 2003, at the age of eighteen. Never shy of pushing himself to another level — #alwaysalittlehigher — six years later in 2009 he became the first ever Gurkha to join the UK Special Boat Service (SBS). Along with the SAS, the SBS is regarded as the most elite unit in the British military.
During this time, he developed an interest in mountaineering that quickly turned into a passion. It all began in December 2012, when on leave from his Special Forces duties, he set out on a trek to Everest Base Camp. This experience fired his passion and ambition for the mountains immediately, and not content with simply returning to Kathmandu, he managed to convince his guide to teach him how to climb "for real" and he successfully summited the 6119-metre Lobuche East with his guide shortly after. It was his first peak.
Purja's primary focus and loyalty remained with his unit, becoming subject matter expert for extreme cold-weather warfare within the mountain cell of the SBS. It was throughout this military chapter of his life where he developed the skills to quickly evaluate situations, then act to ensure the welfare of others balanced with delivering on the ultimate objective — an invaluable skillset that would transfer directly across to his climbing career.
As and when his military career allowed, the mountaineering continued. His #alwaysalittlehigher mindset would be a driving force to more climbs around the world, and eventually leading him towards his first ascent of Everest. This achievement was marked even more admirably with a selfless act of solo rescuing a stricken climber during the descent high in the death zone. The following year he proudly led a team of Gurkhas to their first successful Everest expedition. Immediately after, he made his way back up to the mountain with his sights set firmly set on a World Record. Just a few days later he achieved his goal after summiting Everest, quickly followed by Lhotse and Makalu all within a total of just 5 days. It was to be the first of many records he would claim in the mountains.
Purja soon discovered a natural physiological advantage when he realized he was able to climb and acclimatize to altitude quicker than most mountaineers. This newfound awareness naturally fueled even greater ambition. After serving in the British tier one Special Forces unit for ten years, he left in early 2019 to pursue a another world record.
At the time the record for climbing the world’s fourteen highest peaks, known as 'The 8000ers,' was just under eight years. Purja’s dream was to do it in seven months, and he aptly named his plan Project Possible. Through every storm, every step on every mountain, and each selfless rescue mission, Purja answered with just one approach: "Everything in life is possible armed only with a determined approach and positive mindset." A little over six months later on the summit of Shishapangma and with weeks to spare, Purja proudly announced to the world 'Mission Achieved,' delivering on his promise and what many claimed to be impossible.
Purja's natural aptitude for expedition leadership and high-altitude mountaineering had come to full maturity, truly proving his abilities on the world stage. Above all, he clearly demonstrated that with the right mindset, planning, and team, anything is possible.
Today, Purja inspires people of all ages, showing how a positive approach can lead to the most incredible achievements in life. In March 2020 he officially announced his new enterprise ‘Nimsdai’ — from the Nepalese ‘dai,’ meaning ‘brother.’ With a primary objective to share his knowledge and approach of big mountain climbing, he now offers mountaineers the exclusive chance to team up 1:1 with one of the most ground-breaking expedition leaders of a generation and provide commercial clients opportunities for breath-taking, high-altitude special projects.
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