Its official, Nirmal Purja has a permit to climb Shishapangma to achieve his self-imposed timetable of November 23 to summit all 14 of the 8000ers in seven months. He posted on Instagram and Facebook:
With full of mix emotions ; I feel very humble, thankful and proud today. Finally me and my team has got the permit to climb Shishapangma. I would like to thank the government of Nepal for approaching China on my behalf for this project and I would also like to thank the government of China for considering my application and allowing me to climb Shishapangma this year.
Equally, I would like to thank the Ministery of foreign affairs Nepal, Department of Tourism, Embassy of a China in Nepal , NMA, CTMA, TMA and all my friends who helped me ( you all know who you are ) to make this happen. Thank you to all for taking this “Bremont Project Possible” as OUR project. My heart and soul is full of joy with mixed emotions.
Now, you have given me the opportunity, I will deliver my promise. I’m looking to complete this project within 6 months. I love you all and big thank you to my wife @sus_xox for bearing with me and being that “strong woman”- Without your support I wouldn’t have come this far.
Getting to the true summit of Shisha is not a foregone conclusion, even for a team as skilled as Nims. Shish is the lowest of all the 8000-meter peaks standing at 26,335 feet or 8,027 meters. It’s the only 8000er that stands alone in Tibet. Everest, Lhotse, and Cho Oyu are on the border with Nepal while Kangchunga shares the border with India.
Shishapangma was first climbed by a Chinese team in 1964. I estimate there have been around 350 summits and over 30 deaths placing it the middle for deaths/summits on the 8000ers. In 1999 Americans Alex Lowe and Dave Bridges died in an avalanche and last year on May 3rd, 2018, well-regarded Bulgarian climber Boyan Petrov disappeared during an attempt.
About 30% of all expeditions reach the true summit which is two more hours of climbing to cover an additional 46-feet/ 14-meters from the central summit. However many climbers claim a summit with the lower one as demonstrated by Luo Jing who falsely claimed her last 8000er when she only reached the central summit.
From my own experience in September 2007, Shish is extremely accessible as you can drive to base camp. The lower route crosses a glacier with a series of up and down climbs of 20 to 30-foot tall ice towers called penitentes. Next is a straightforward climb up a 30-degree snow slope to reach Camp 1 then another long traverse across a snowfield to Camp 2 and then up an avalanche-prone slope to Camp 3. Then the real climbing begins with a steep climb up fairly rough snow-covered rock wall to the Central summit before crossing a knife-edge snow-covered ridgeline to the true summit. We only made it C3 and stopped when we received a weather forecast calling for high winds and heavy snow for the next 30 days!
- Base Camp (BC) 5000m, 16,400 feet: BC – ABC 9 miles, 6 hours start of the trip, 4 hours end of the trip
- Advanced base camp (ABC) 5600m, 18,375 feet: ABC – C1 3.7 miles, 8 hours the first time, 6 hours thereafter (one way)
- C1 6400m, 21,000 feet: C1 – C2 .6 miles, 4-5 hours
- C2 7100m, 23,300 feet: C2 – C3 .6 miles, 3-5 hours
- C3 7500m, 24,600 feet: C3 – Summit .6 miles, 7 hours
Of course, we all know Nirmal Purja’s project is to summit all 14 of the 8000ers in seven months. In order to achieve his timeline, he needs to summit Shish by November 23. If he summits on October 29th, he will have summited all 14 in 190 days.
These are the 8000ers Nims and team have summited thus far:
- Annapurna – April 23
- Dhaulagiri – May 12
- Kanchenjunga – May 15
- Lhotse – May 22
- Everest – May 22
- Makalu – May 24
- Nanga Parbat – July 03
- Gasherbrum I – July 15
- Gasherbrum II – July 18
- K2 – July 24
- Broad Peak – July 26
- Cho Oyu – September 23
- Manaslu – September 27
The other members with Nims for Shish includes Mingma David Sherpa, Gesman Tamang, Gyalzen Sherpa and Jangbu Sherpa.
In 2013, Korean climber Kim Chang-ho set the current record for all 14 in 7 years, 10 months, 6 days. The previous record was set in 1987 by Polish alpinist Jerzy Kukuczka climbing all 14 in 7 years, 11 months, 14 days.
China had demanded that all foreigners must be out of Tibet no later than October 1 fearing protests around China’s National Day which commemorates the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Additionally, China had said no climbing on Shishapangma a few months ago after a string of deaths and accidents on the lowest of the fourteen 8000ers. They officially have stated they believe the mountain had become too dangerous to climb but most likely that was just an excuse to keep people out of Tibet.
Memories are Everything