Fastest climber of 14 highest peaks to return to mountains

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — A Nepalese mountaineer who smashed the speed record for climbing the world’s 14 highest peaks returned safely to Nepal’s capital on Wednesday but said he plans to return to the mountains in three days to guide his clients.

Nirmal Purja on Tuesday scaled the 8,027-meter (26,340-foot) Mount Shishapangma in China, the last of the 14 peaks that are more than 8,000 meters (26,240 feet) in height.

Purja began his mission in April and finished in 189 days. The previous record was seven years, 10 months and six days and was set by South Korean climber Kim Chang-ho in 2013.

Purja returned by helicopter to Kathmandu, where he was welcomed by friends and a police marching band.

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He told reporters that he would return to the mountains in three days so he can guide his mountaineering clients.

“This was a project that nobody believed could be done. When I first started talking about this, people were making a joke out of me,” he said.

He said the most difficult peak was Mount Kanchenjunga because he made a “suicidal attempt” to help other climbers who needed help at 8,450 meters (27,715 feet) by giving them his own oxygen tank.

“When you really want to do something in life and you give 100%, and if you do it from your heart and from your soul, it is possible, this is the message not only for the climbing community but for anybody and everybody in life,” he said.

He said he is planning to write a book about his climbs.

Purja, a former soldier in the British army, started by climbing Nepal’s Mount Annapurna in April.

He said he struggled to get permission from the Chinese government to climb Mount Shishapangma, his last peak, and was allowed only after receiving help from Nepal’s government.

When he climbed Mount Everest in May, Purja took a photo of a long line of climbers just below the summit that was widely circulated and raised concerns about overcrowding on the world’s highest mountain and the safety of climbers stuck for hours in a traffic jam.

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