By Gopal Sharma
KATHMANDU (Reuters) – A Nepali climber who scaled the 14 highest peaks in six months and six days to become the world’s fastest mountaineer said on Wednesday he wanted to inspire future generations of climbers in the Himalayan nation.
Nirmal Purja, 36, was welcomed at Kathmandu airport by friends and family members who offered him Buddhist prayer scarves, as bands played music.
“I want to inspire generations to come,” he told reporters.
“People were making jokes (before the attempt began),” he said, adding that no one had believed the feat could be achieved.
The record for the fastest ascent was previously held by South Korean Kim Chang-ho who completed all the “8,000ers” – peaks higher than 8,000 metres (26,247 ft), in seven years, 10 months and six days.
Purja said he believed his accomplishment was based on dedication.
“When you give 100 percent from your heart, it is possible,” he said.
Purja reached the top of Mount Shishapangma at 8,027 meters (26,335 feet) in Tibet on Tuesday, the final frontier of his “Project Possible” campaign to climb all peaks above 8,000 metres in seven months.
He described the ascent of Mount Kanchenjunga, the world’s third tallest peak, as the most difficult, adding that he had to give his oxygen bottles to other climbers who were in distress.
His campaign began in April in Nepal – home to eight of the world’s 14 highest peaks – with an ascent of Mount Annapurna. He subsequently headed to Pakistan – which has five of the peaks – as a part of his mission, and finished his pursuit in Tibet.
Purja, who arrived in Kathmandu wearing a black baseball cap, previously worked with Britain’s special forces and Royal Marines.
During his ascent of Mount Everest in May, Purja took photographs showing scores of climbers lined up on the summit ridge, exposing a jam at the so-called “death zone” of the world’s highest mountain.
Nepal subsequently drafted a new set of climbing rules aimed at reducing the crowding on Everest.
(Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Sudarshan Varadhan, William Maclean)