Just as Nims arrives at Shishipangma Base Camp and starts heading up the hill, the weather is looking a bit unkind – almost an early winter storm.
Nims posted today he is off to Advanced Base Camp tomorrow – in spring or fall it can be an idyllic place, but that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case today.
It’s a long hike up the valley and with the 30 km winds and low temperature even at 5,000 meters it could be a cold walk. As ever, his optimism shines through with “I’m sure we will have a window.” Looking towards the end of the week there does seem to be a welcoming trend.
With the expert forecasting of specialized mountain meteorologists like Marc De Keyser and Michael Fagin, they should hopefully be lending their expertise to pick a summit window.
However, we have certainly seen Nims climb through some remarkably bad conditions.
He has often skipped camps, which keeps you low and out of the wind as long as possible, and then you can shoot for the summit in a day as we did on our Shishipangma ascent without oxygen. But we summited on 15 September in a rare and stable two weeks of excellent climbing weather. What a difference a month makes.
With this being the last 8,000 meter peak, and with the team he has, they will certainly be prepared to take on pretty much anything the mountain throws at them. Right now however, it certainly isn’t looking easy.
Looking back on Nims approach, his record times and successes, as much as it may take, as he posts, #patience, there will hopefully be a break soon and they can squeeze this last summit in and complete their phenomenal season.
As I posted earlier – (that weekend writing and reading time), his evolution over the climb has been of one who has gone from strength to strength.
“I have bleed from every angle and it’s been horrifically amazing journey.” #Nimsdai.
Highlights in words and video from the 8,000 meter peaks – the story so far
There are a lot of numbers in the record Nims is attempting. The 8,000 meter peaks. All 14 of them. All in 7 months. All at the age of 36.
The real story however, is about the triumph of the human spirit over a host of challenges, any one of which could of stopped this venture dead in its tracks.
His short, dramatic video introducing the expeditions didn’t mince words, it didn’t use words like attempt, or maybe.
“What has taken others nearly 8 years to achieve, Nims will achieve in just 7 months.”
For anyone who has even contemplated doing just one of the 8,000 meter peaks, you have to start with a dream, a belief that you can do it. And not just a belief, a heartfelt conviction.
You will naturally have doubts, fears, naysayers and perhaps face financial hurdles.
You will have to turn all that aside, turn inside to your heart and really work out if you really want to do it. And like in climbing Everest, ego and elevation may be as much the challenge as anything physical you will face and numbers you have to conquer.
Your decision, like all climbing decisions, won’t be very rationale. Climbing never is.
Now, for Nims, multiply that “I am going to climb all these peaks, in 7 months,” dream and fit it into a crazy timetable. Then take a 2nd mortgage on your home and become your own biggest fundraiser.
Then go out publicly and proclaim it across all those less than kind social channels. You will now be up on a very tall and very shaky pedestal.
Looking at what Nims is saying in his Instagram posts, the numbers fade and the immensity of the challenge comes to the fore. It is interesting to see how his writings, his photos and his focus has changed over the last 6 months. It is in many ways heartening English is his second language, his writing is direct, clear, and with the clarity that comes from not having a bunch of extra qualifiers softening the experience.
Certainly he was dealing with many doubters in the early days, at a level he doesn’t even think worth repeating – as he says “you just keep digging in and working hard for it.”
Here from Annapurna you get a feel for his personality. Not many of us would have been smiling at that altitude in the conditions they were facing.
As he set on on the first of April for Annapurna, he posted:
“I am at my happy place again. Absolutely pleased to be back here since Jun 2017. Game on 🤙🏼”
Simple, direct, echoing a love of the mountains and climbing amongst them.
Seven months ago the odds looked decidedly long, like one chance in a 100, or more likely a 1,000. And that was to complete the venture.
We shouldn’t forget that the Himalayas, and the 8,000 meter peaks are dangerous, and on Everest alone, 11 people died this year. Nims seems to be climbing ups quickly and then more likely than not, stopping to rescue others on the way down.
Throughout the season, the rescues on Annapurna, the foul early season weather on K2, and finally, just the opportunity to get a permit to climb Shishipangma stacked up, and then were overcome.
If anyone doubted the climbing challenges faced, a quick flip through the videos showed deep snow, high winds and the team breaking track for others to the summits.
Dhaulagiri looked particularly unpleasant and it was certainly a season when a large number of climbers turned back without summiting. Not difficult to see why when you watch this. Himalayan misery at its best perhaps?
With Everest looming next, Nims stopped to take that iconic shot of the 100’s of climbers lined up on the summit ridge of Everest that was seen around the world.
Ten hours and forty-five minutes after reaching the top of the world, he was on the summit of Lhotse. For those of us fortunate to have seen the sunrise from the heights of Everest, his words resonated perfectly:
“I must say I THROUGHLY enjoyed the view with the sunrise, giving the life both to the mountaineers and to the planet earth.”
Having completed Phase 1 in Nepal, Nims moved to Pakistan, heading up the huge Diamir Face on Nanga Parbat. The joys of high altitude climbing and the deep snow are best shown in this video from the climb “LEAD, FOLLOW, OR GET OUT OF THE WAY”
Nims moved into the heart of the Karakoram, quickly working his way through Gasherbrum 1 and 2, Broad Peak and onto K2.
In a year when as I hiked up the Baltoro, passing climbers and Sherpas headed down with stories of “snow over their heads” Nims headed up.
If anyone doubts his high altitude abilities, his undoubtably unscripted, unprompted and completely coherent monologue atop K2 is a reminder of just how well he climbs and thinks at high altitude.
From the early days of the challenge, of dealing with doubts, of needing to perhaps convince himself as much as others, the K2 video resonates with a sense of thanks and gratitude: from the Sherpas climbing with him, to the sponsors, to the supporter who have helped him out with his crowdfunding campaign, particularly in the early days when doubts were certainly greater than the peaks themselves.
K2 was a huge milestone, arguably the toughest and most uncertain of all the summits, particularly this year. Unlike Everest, he hadn’t climbed K2 before and it was to be all new to him. In a few final words, Nims sums it up as he heads for Shishipangma:
“But above all, we have came this far with great positive mindset, that willing to make things happen, great sense of humour, humility and the discipline factor we had to stick by. This project has certainly tested my ability of leadership and the management skills. I have certainly learned a lot and I still believe there’s a lot to learn.”