Author(s): Nirmal Purja
My comfort zone begins where most individuals quit.
As a kid in Nepal, I went barefoot because my family had nothing. That's how I developed the resilience I needed for joining the Gurkhas - one of the most fearless forces in the British Army. Then against all odds, I became the first ever Gurkha soldier in more than 200 years of history to join the Special Boat Service where I served in the some of the world's most dangerous warzones, kicking down doors to capture enemy gunmen and terrorist bomb makers.
But elite combat wasn't enough. I wanted more of a test. That's where my next project came in, something nobody thought possible - to climb all fourteen "death zone" mountains in seven months. The previous standard for conquering the world's most dangerous peaks was seven years, ten months and six days. I smashed through that achievement in six months, breaking several world records in the process. I'd have been even quicker had I not been called in to lead four perilous, high-altitude rescue missions.
I knew that to quit on the mountain was to die. Even though I'd only started my climbing a few years earlier, as a hobby, I found I was able to adapt quickly to the deadly conditions. I was rarely phased by the lung-burning temperatures or brutal winds and fatigue seemed to pass me by. Fear became irrelevant because I had belief. In the death zone, I came alive.
There were intimidating challenges to negotiate away from the mountains, too. Financial hurdles had to be overcome in order to fund an expedition with a six-figure price tag. Political negotiations with the Chinese government were required to ensure my entry to Shishapangma. And as I broke several world records, my mother was hospitalized. As the youngest son in a Nepalese family I was duty bound to care for her. My world fell apart. But this is what happens when ambition meets limitless imagination.
Beyond Possible: One Soldier, Fourteen Peaks - My Life In The Death Zone is the inside story of my incredible adventure.