Nepali mountaineer set for final push in record 14-peak bid

Mountaineer Nirmal Purja, left, with his expedition operator Mingma David Sherpa plans to climb the world’s 14 tallest peaks in only seven months. (AFP)
Updated 17 September 2019

Nepali mountaineer set for final push in record 14-peak bid

  • Nirmal Purja arrived at the advance base camp of the 8,201-meter Cho Oyu on Monday
  • The mountaineer has set several speed climbing records this year

KATMANDU: The current record for climbing the world’s 14 tallest peaks is almost eight years. Nepali climber, Nirmal Purja, who served in the British special forces, has a target of seven months.
On Monday Purja arrived at the advance base camp of the 8,201-meter (26,906-feet) Cho Oyu, ready for the final phase of the last three peaks in his feat of astonishing endurance.
“Nobody believed I could do this when I first said it ... I’m so glad to be inspiring generations of all ages through this endeavor. This is what keeps me going,” Purja said by phone.
“This is not about me... it is to show what the human body can do. To establish a paradigm shift in perception of human potential,” Purja said.
Only a teenager when he joined the British Gurkhas, Purja or “Nims dai” climbed both the 8,848-meter Everest and Lhotse at 8,516 meters in a record 10 hours and 15 minutes in 2017.
This inspired the 36-year-old to start “Project Possible,” scaling the 14 peaks — all higher than 8,000 meters — in seven months.
But doing so is radically ambitious. In the 1980s, it took Polish climber Jerzy Kukuczka seven years, 11 months and 14 days.
South Korean climber Kim Chang-ho managed it in about a month less — although he did, unlike Kukuczka and Purja, do it without supplementary oxygen.
Before he set off on his first expedition, Purja had a detailed tattoo of the 14 mountains engraved on his back, with colorful prayer flags tracing his journey to the peaks.
Swapping his army boots for crampons, Purja quit the military after 16 years of service and re-mortgaged his house to begin his expedition and start raising funds.
Purja began his attempt in April with the 8,091-meter Annapurna, checking the illustrious “8,000ers” Dhaulagiri, Kanchenjunga, Everest, Lhotse and Makalu off his list in only a month to finish his first phase.
A month later, he was heading to Pakistan for the second part of his mission where he first tackled the notorious Nanga Parbat at 8,125 meters. Twenty-three days later he was standing atop Broad Peak, his fifth and final mountain of the second phase.
Battling sleep deprivation to meet his target, Purja said he was almost sprinting up and down five of Pakistan’s highest peaks including K2, the second tallest in the world.
“I felt like this is one down and next to go (with every summit). We still have another to climb,” Purja said.
On track to make climbing history, the phenomenal mountaineer has in the process also set several speed climbing records this year.
This included his summits of Everest, Lhotse and Mount Makalu, three of the world’s five highest mountains, in a record 48 hours — and despite the deadly overcrowding this season on the planet’s top peak.
Purja also made headlines with his miraculous rescue operation of a Malaysian climber from Mount Annapurna after two nights in the open above 7,000 meters.
“It is only a matter of time until he completes his project, he has already proven his amazing capability,” said Mingma Sherpa of Seven Summit Treks, Purja’s expedition operator.
Raised in a village in the northwest district of Chitwan, Purja said he did not even have flip-flops growing up.
“My life story tells anyone who doesn’t have privilege to dream about bigger things. Anything is possible if you put your heart and mind and give 100 percent to it,” he said.
He also hopes to lift the standing of Nepali climbers — Sherpas who often work as guides for foreign climbers in the Himalayas — as he feels they are not “given the right credit.”
But there is a potential spanner in the works.
The Chinese government’s decision to close Mount Shishapangma for the season could potentially stymie Purja’s plans.
But efforts are underway to seek a special permission for him.
“Dealing with all sorts from admin, logistics, fundings and politics; now my climbing mode is ON,” he said on Facebook on Monday.


Florida offers drive-through Botox to quarantined residents

Updated 04 June 2020

Florida offers drive-through Botox to quarantined residents

  • US state allowed a partial relaxing of restrictions imposed to slow the coronavirus pandemic
  • Elective medical procedures resume, including Botox injections and cosmetic surgery

MIAMI: Quarantined Florida residents worried about their laughter lines and crows’ feet need frown no longer — Botox is back, and it’s being offered at a drive-through.
On May 4, the US state allowed a partial relaxing of restrictions imposed to slow the coronavirus pandemic. That means certain elective medical procedures could resume, including Botox injections and cosmetic surgery.
Michael Salzhauer, a plastic surgeon known as ‘Dr. Miami’ who has also starred in a reality television show, has been conducting drive-through Botox injections in the garage of his building in the posh Miami neighborhood of Bal Harbor.
Salzhauer said the idea struck him as he was sitting in his car waiting for a blood test for COVID-19 antibodies.
“The areas that we inject Botox are the upper face, exactly the parts of the face that aren’t covered by the mask so it’s really ideal,” Salzhauer said, while wearing a mask, face shield and surgical gown as he waited for his next drive-up patient.
Patients sign up online, paying an average of $600 each for a stippling of shots across their foreheads.
Arman Ohevshalom, 36, was enthusiastic as he waited in line with his wife in their car, although it was their first time receiving the injections.
“It’s very creative, and after seeing how they’re running it I feel just as comfortable as I would in the office,” he said.
Florida’s tattoo artists, however, are frustrated. Shuttered since March, they asking why they cannot open, too.
Botox injections are “kind of like tattooing, he’s injecting stuff into the skin,” said tattoo shop owner Chico Cortez. Florida is home to about 10,000 working tattoo artists, according to the Florida Professional Tattoo Artist Guild.
An emailed statement from a Miami-Dade County spokesperson said Mayor Carlos Gimenez has yet to set a date for reopening tattoo shops. “He is working with industry members and the medical experts to come up with the best way to reopen safely,” it said.