Messner has nothing but praise for Nirmal (Nims) Purja, the Nepali climber whose ascents of all 14 of the world’s eight-thousanders within seven months was featured in a popular Netflix documentary this month.
“I needed 16 years to climb all 14 peaks without oxygen,” says Messner, repeating what he said in the Netflix film. “For this, I give Nirmal great respect, he did it in such a short time. And after this, he went back to K2 and became the first to climb it in winter. He is not just chatting, he is doing.”
Messner worked with Purja to finish his latest book which is out in German, and defends the Nepali climber’s use of helicopters and oxygen for his climbs saying technology had made it possible to fly from one base camp to the other. And Purja’s team was also fixing ropes for others, carrying its own oxygen.
Messner is also glad that Nepalis are finally getting credit for helping western climbers attain the world’s highest peaks – starting with Gurkha porters on Nanga Parbat in 1895, and later with Sherpa guides.
“Now, Sherpas and Gurkhas are no longer support staff, they organise expeditions around the world,” says Messner. “I am very happy that after 100 years the Sherpa have the economic possibility to organise their own expeditions.”