On May 16, 2022, Nimsdai Purja – the Nepal-born British mountaineer and Montblanc ambassador – set two new mountaineering world records, the latest in an impressive line-up of record-setting feats.
From May 7 to 16, Purja pushed the boundaries of what is possible by climbing the peaks of Kanchenjunga, Everest and Lhotse mountains in succession, all without using any oxygen tanks to assist him. In doing so, he became the first to ascend the summits of Everest, Lhotse and Kanchenjunga without supplemental oxygen in just eight days, 23 hours and 10 minutes. His second record was in completing the Everest to Lhotse traverse without oxygen in just 26 hours.
“I am thrilled to have completed the challenge I set myself, and in doing so, continue to prove what humankind can do with the right preparation and focus,” said a triumphant Purja.
Nimsdai (aka Nirmal) Purja is a Nepalese-born naturalised British citizen who has served in the British Army’s Brigade of Gurkhas, followed by the Special Boat Service (SBS), and the special forces unit of the Royal Navy. He became a professional mountaineer in 2019, and by the end of that year, he was the holder of seven Guinness world records.
In 2019, just a few months after becoming a professional, Purja stunned the mountaineering fraternity when he announced Project Possible – to summit all the 8000’er peaks in under seven months. The 8000’ers, also known as the ‘death zone’ mountains, are the collective names given to the world’s 14 highest mountains – whose peaks are all over 8,000 metres above sea level. All 14 peaks lie within the Himalaya-Karakoram mountain ranges that segregate the Indian subcontinent from the Central Asian highlands. ‘Death zone’ refers to the fact that above 8,000 metres, human life is nearly impossible due to scarcity of oxygen.
The previous record for climbing all the 14 peaks stood at seven-years ten-months and six-days, set by South Korean Kim Chang-ho in 2013. Only 40 climbers had ever stood on all 14 peaks before 2019. One can only imagine the shock within the mountaineering fraternity when Purja broke the 8000’ers record by a staggering seven years. What’s even more remarkable about Purja’s performance is that he also managed to rescue several stranded mountaineers in the process who were facing life-and-death situations.
On January 16, 2021, Purja, along with nine other Nepali mountaineers, became the first to successfully ascend K2 in the harsh weather conditions. Purja was the only team member to summit without the use of supplemental oxygen, thus becoming the first person to do so in winter.
When Purja undertook his latest record-breaking feat in May, he was wearing the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere Chronograph “0 Oxygen” LE290 on his wrist the whole time, putting the timepiece through its ultimate test. Montblanc’s “0 Oxygen” Chronograph, limited to 290 pieces, has “zero oxygen” inside its case.
According to Montblanc, there are several benefits for explorers who need their equipment to work in some of the harshest environments. Zero oxygen inside the movement not only eliminates fogging, which can occur with drastic temperature changes at altitude, but also prevents oxidisation. Without oxygen, all the components last far longer and provide greater precision over time.
Each timepiece comes with a zero-oxygen certificate that attests to the fact that the watch has been successfully encased without oxygen. In addition to the certificate, each timepiece undergoes Montblanc’s 500-hour test. But in this case, the watchmaker wanted to take things one step further by taking the new LE290 on a real mountaineering expedition to the world’s highest mountain above sea level – Mount Everest.
In addition, Montblanc also supports the Nimsdai Foundation’s Big Mountain Cleanup initiative to keep these magnificent mountains clean for future generations. The initiative is aimed at addressing the waste generated by the increasingly popular mountain expedition culture by providing full time, seasonal cleanup teams on all widely climbed mountains around the globe paired with associated regional recycling and educational initiatives.
“I am very thankful for Montblanc’s support, not just providing me with this innovative watch built for extreme conditions, but also participating in our collective efforts to tackle the issue of the accumulation of expedition waste that is polluting the environment of the Himalayas,” says Nimsdai Purja.