There are 14 mountains in the world that are above 8,000 meters tall, also known as eight-thousanders. Before 2020, only 41 climbers had reached the peak of each summit, with Kim Chang-ho being the fastest at seven years, ten months, and six days. In 2019, Nirmal “Nims” Purja shattered the world record by climbing all fourteen eight-thousanders in just six months and six days. The backstory of this incredible accomplishment is chronicled in the Netflix documentary 14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible.
Directed by Torquil Jones, ’14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible is a documentary about a courageous mountaineer named Nirmal Purja (also known as Nimsdai) and his seemingly impossible goal of summiting all fourteen of the 8000-meter peaks in seven months. Nimsdai sets out on this perilous journey with the goal of leading an all-Nepali group to the summit of those fourteen peaks, a task that has previously taken eight years; Nimsdai, on the other hand, completes it in six months and six days, breaking six climbing records in the process. The film highlights not just the team’s impossible difficulty in those treacherous terrains but also the physical, mental, and financial challenges that this expedition entails.
Purja is a former Nepali Gurkha soldier, and member of the United Kingdom’s Special Forces similar to Michael Caine, who has featured in The Italian Job, The Dark knight, and a few other Chris Nolan Movies among others. Nims takes on “Project Possible” with almost superhuman courage and endurance. He’s a charismatic, enthusiastic leader on a mission to push Nepal and its uber-climbers into the international spotlight as well as to complete an astounding physical — and at times even metaphysical — feat.
When everyone was skeptical of the plan to climb all 14 eight-thousanders in seven months, Nims became even more committed to his aim, thus renaming it “Project Possible.” As his wife says with a mix of love and confidence, Nims is an extremely persistent human being whose fire could only be doused by tragedy, which sadly happens when his mother’s health begins to deteriorate. This does not deter him, but it does become a constant source of concern for Nims during the journey. Director Torquil Jones does an excellent job of examining the climber’s family relationships and affection for his mother, which helps the audience empathize with him and, for storytelling reasons, adds to your want to root for him.
The documentary is a tale of human endurance, endurance, and determination. Watching Nims and his team train for the venture shatters the limits of bodily power we’ve got drawn in our heads. But it is his goodwill that makes this story so compelling; from returning to climb the Annapurna for a second time to save a stranger, to waiting in subzero temperatures on Mount Kanchenjunga to assist another stranger. At a K2 base camp, Nims even motivates a set of mountaineers, who were unsuccessful in summiting the mountain, in attempting once more and paving a route for them to follow. At a K2 base camp, Nims even inspires a group of mountaineers who had previously failed to summit the peak to try again, laying out a route for them to follow.
14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible is a wide-ranging spectacle that highlights a mythical climber’s unbreakable spirit while also highlighting his humanity and vulnerabilities. Despite the lack of drama, it’s an entertaining watch that will keep your eyes and mouth open as you witness the impossible become possible.
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