Beyond Possible: One Soldier, Fourteen Peaks — My Life In The Death Zone By Nimsdai Purja

Tl;dr: Special forces man child spends 303 pages stroking his own ego with all the sophistication and eloquence of a crayon. Beyond Possible: One Soldier, Fourteen Peaks — My Life In The Death Zone Being a citizen of Nepal people from outside might think every Nepali can see Mt. Everest from their balcony, or have climbed it. As you might know, considering you're Nepali, it's rarely the case. I had never given much thought about mountain climbing, what it took to do it, what difficulties people faced; it looked like a walk in the park from all the footages Nepal Television showed during my childhood years. Curse you NTV.

Seeing how vividly all the trial and tribulations are explained in the book, I have a new level of respect for all the Sherpa brothers and anyone who even dares to go through this. And how about Nims Dai. What a beast of a man. Man of intense passion and willingness. A true leader and a passionate human being. I've rarely read about such high achieving human beings, and I'm glad I read this one.

What impressed me the most about this book are two things.

1. How he write about Nepal and Nepali mountaineering communities. He has put great effort in the book as well in his missions to provide as much benifit as possible to all the expedition crew mates.

2. How he motivates himself to achieve the impossible. I heard that Michael Jordan spread a rumor about his opponent disrespecting him, just so he could motivate himself to beat him in the basketball court. Here, Nims Dai creates so over the top scenarios in his heads just so he can push himself to take another step in the snow. Do what works I guess.

Book has very good language and narration. I'm inspired by all that he has achieved and I think this book or atleast his biography should be taught at school level in Nepal. I also would love to read his account about the recent achievement when his crew summited K2 on winter.

Anyways, it an awesome read filled with life affirming examples and motivations. Congratulations to Nims Dai. Beyond Possible: One Soldier, Fourteen Peaks — My Life In The Death Zone One: Hope was God. Two: The little things counted most on the big mountains.

In this book, Nims tells his story about family, childhood, education, service, and decisions that have led him and his team to climb the fourteen highest mountains on Earth (8000ers). In 2019 he climbed the world's highest peaks shattering the world record by over seven years.

This book was what I hoped it would be. Nims talks about physical and psychological skills obtained while becoming a Gurkha soldier and later serving in UK Special forces. Competence that helps him to succeed climbing the highest peaks. He also takes us with him through all the Project Possible climbs, allowing a glimpse of what it takes to climb and reach the top of the mountain.

His undying dedication, focus, spirit, positive thinking, morale, and discipline is admirable. The way how Nims took all the challenges, setbacks and doubts, and turned them into something positive is admirable. After reading this, I have massive respect for him and the entire team of Sherpas who, working as a team, overcome a variety of struggles and life-threatening situations, and his family for letting him be who he is.

This book also reveals men's ambition, his self-centered view to success and, his egoistic approach to reaching his goals. I did not always agree with his decisions, nor I would be willing to put everything on the line for my ambition, however, it did not bother me (as I see it did other readers) because I agree with him - people, in general, do not like those that are the fastest or strongest in the pack (especially if they acknowledge and boast about it). While others use it for their advantage, Nims uses it for the common good. The values he is living by are ones we all should follow every day.

Can I. Or can I not? Beyond Possible: One Soldier, Fourteen Peaks — My Life In The Death Zone Amazing story and incredible accomplishments, but something about this just didn’t sit right with me. It felt like 300 pages of egotistical mansplaining. I wanted to love this so much! And im sure he’s a lovely guy, but the book itself left a lot to be desired. Also far too much talking to himself in the third person. In a veryyy ego centric way. Meh. Beyond Possible: One Soldier, Fourteen Peaks — My Life In The Death Zone Inspiring. This book made me feel like I could take on the world. As someone who intends to climb Everest Base Camp next year for the first time (covid dependant), this was so fascinating. Not only is Nims an inspiring and fearless person, I think his wife is also. She supported him even if it meant she lost everything she knew and wanted. That there is unconditional love. Breathtaking read. Loved every minute of it. Beyond Possible: One Soldier, Fourteen Peaks — My Life In The Death Zone


Free download Beyond Possible: One Soldier, Fourteen Peaks — My Life In The Death Zone

Alternate cover edition of ISBN 9781529312249.

In Beyond Possible Nimsdai Purja tells the story of his life before his recent epic achievement of leading the team that scaled K2 in winter. He reveals how leadership, a willingness to learn, integrity and collaboration are essential qualities behind the world’s greatest mountaineering feats. Nimsdai is the first man ever to summit all 8000m ‘Death Zone’ peaks in less than 7 months, and this book reveals the man behind the climbs – how his early life in Nepal and Special Forces training made him the person to go beyond possible… Beyond Possible: One Soldier, Fourteen Peaks — My Life In The Death Zone

Nims is a legend. When reading Insta/news I felt like he found some glitch in the way how mountains are climbed (i.e. figured out some superior logistics, got enormous funding, superior team or sth). However, after reading the book I am even more impressed about this feat. He was leading from the front and putting in the legwork (trailblazing/fixing ropes) himself on the mountains. He was also handling all the logistics, trying to secure sponsorships and taking loans to fund this effort himself. Taking massive risks on all fronts. Wow!

Notes for myself:
- Nims nearly died 3-4 times
- Even his head does not work properly at high altitudes / due to tiredness - hence, think everything through / research before the trip
- Dont stress about taking too many pics, even he can't do it. The goal is to reach the top and not the perfect picture
- The toughest part is fixing the lines, afterwards it's kind of via ferrata
- Physical strength helps a lot. Really, a lot. This should be a 'hygiene' thing that you should not need to think of on the mountain
- Concentrate on the goal and stick to the plan. Thinking/weighting of risks is done at home. You are there to execute
- Cheaper operators are not always bad, but keep in mind that you are 'calling the shots' then. The goal of cheaper operators is to make clients happy and it may be harder to align your risk taking / incentives with theirs
- Dont stress if the first attempt was not successful - why not regrouping and trying again? Even during the same trip. Beyond Possible: One Soldier, Fourteen Peaks — My Life In The Death Zone Nims is clearly as hard as nails and has a lot to be proud of but I couldn't stick with his overblown self-aggrandisement for long. What is strange is that this book does seem to be all about him whereas it would have been more interesting with some fleshing out: describing the team, the climbs, the scenery, etc. I skipped to Dr Chin Wui Kin's rescue from Annapurna as I was in Nepal at the time and was following it closely but that piece of heroism was dealt with in just 10 pages, and Nims failed to mention that Dr Chin didn't survive.
I'm sure climbers and mountaineers will love this book but Nims's ego is rather overwhelming throughout and the memoir could, with a bit more effort, have been better crafted into a wonderful book. I admire the man but the book sadly is not a good read. Beyond Possible: One Soldier, Fourteen Peaks — My Life In The Death Zone Like many, I watched the documentary 14 Peaks on Netflix and was flabbergasted. I was already on a mountaineering book reading binge, but I waited until I'd read a bunch of other books before requesting this one from the library. It's a fast, frothy read--if you watched the documentary and want more details (relatively speaking), it's a good book for that. I found the Netflix doc interesting but felt it really skimmed a lot of the peaks--well now I know that's partly because of a lack of footage, per the book--there was no documentary team signed on at the start and the team took a lot of the footage themselves, when they could.

I think the book is a fine supplement to the documentary, so if you're reaching for it for that reason, as I did, I recommend it. Though you know the whole story, of course. The beats are identical, told in much the same way/structure as the documentary. And the book does have some downsides, at least for me personally as a reader. If you're genuinely interested in mountaineering, especially 8,000 meter peaks--their challenges, history, and the complex psychology of those who climb them, you cannot read this in isolation. There are much better books to actually scratch beyond the surface of the subject.

As I read, I had this niggling feeling... look I called this book frothy and it is. It has a feel of one of those ghostwritten celebrity memoirs where the subject stuck to a specific PR narrative and the writer did the best they could to write around it. While you do get more details on select climbs, the book still skims a lot. It's very surface. Oh we went to climb X peak and there was a hard moment or two but I did it! Believing in myself did it! My team was great! We fixed the lines when other climbers wouldn't! My climb will inspire people. Rinse and repeat. The one that surprised me most was K2. The book covers scaling the infamous Bottleneck and reaching the summit in a single paragraph. It just... skips the most harrowing part of K2, including the section climbers have to shimmy across single-file where 4 or 5 people died in 2008 alone. There was similar skimming on other peaks, and I honestly had read this hoping to learn more about the lesser-written-about 8,000ders. But this is not that book. I decided to finally get Ed Viesturs book on his 14 summits instead since I know he goes into great historical detail (and I've read all his other books already).

Also on the subject of skimming, you get little in the way of... any context for any of the mountains for the past, let alone the 2019 season. There's a mention every once in a blue moon of past disasters, like the avalanches on K2 in 2008, but it's just surprising to me that while talking about how brutal Nanga Parbat was the book didn't cover some of the more infamous deaths on that mountain. Same with Annapurna. And Everest. And K2. And so on. The book rarely if ever mentions famous mountaineers/first summits/big tragedies. And notably: it doesn't mention the deaths on the very same peaks in 2019, during Project Possible. I was a bit surprised. Nanga Parbat in 2019, why does that sound familiar? I thought. It was because Tom Ballard died a few short months before Nims' climb--eerily notable because his mother famously died on K2 in 1995 (Alison Hargreaves). Or the many people who died on Everest in 2019--the book covers Nims' famous photo, but not the aftermath of it (read The Third Pole if you're interested in that!). It just would have made the book much more interesting and deeper to cover this contextual information--it both augments how incredible his feat was, but also it's important to NEVER forget how deadly these mountains can be. That it takes a certain amount of hubris to climb them--and bad luck kills a lot of people, often, on them. Again: it's a frothy memoir. Though, to that end, perhaps this was NOT ghostwritten. A ghostwriter might have added those details, understanding how they would round out the narrative (imo). Or the ghostwriter knows nothing about mountaineering. Who knows.

And then... there was just a bravado that at times itched a little. When I got to the afterward, I tilted my head more than once. Nims claims credit for inspiring others to try to tackle more than just 1 or 2 8,000ders in a single season... but many great climbers have already done that in the past? Yeah, none as many as him (really not sure his feat is easily repeatable, period, even in half measure). But many greats have done a three-fer as Ed Viesturs calls it in a single season long before Nims ever climbed a single mountain. Not a lot, yeah, but it was just... quite the assertion to make. He also seems to be claiming credit for spearheading cleaning up the mountains, and he has launched a very public endeavor (good!), but it is not the first. There was one on Everest in 2019, in fact, while Nims was completing his project. Nims alludes to some snobbish famous mountaineers who don't like him in the book--never naming names of course. I'm not entirely surprised. There are a lot of politics in mountaineering, and the issues of guided/fixed line climbing vs. alpinist and with vs. w/o oxygen can get heated. I wonder what some of the big names in mountaineering really think. This book has a similar PR shellac as Three Cups of Tea--a story most interested in promoting the primary figure/author as a Great Person. And, hey, he seems to be. But yeah... the book is telling a very specific story and manipulating it's readership on some level. It's more of a motivational book than a mountaineering book. Know what you're getting going in and supplement your reading as needed. Beyond Possible: One Soldier, Fourteen Peaks — My Life In The Death Zone In short, it could've been a masterpiece if curated and narrated in a much better manner. Nims, you already are a legend and everything you've done so far has been legendary. Probably, you hurried up releasing the book as some times it loses its flow, at times it sounds repetetive, and narration is pedestrian at best. However, nothing takes away the the credit which goes to you and your team of Project Possible for inspiring millions of people to realise their potential, and sending out a strong message about climate change and preservation of our habitat. I wish and assume that you'll be able to redeem your narration through the documentary on your exploits. Beyond Possible: One Soldier, Fourteen Peaks — My Life In The Death Zone 70 pages in, I decided I don’t want to continue with this book.

Nim has indeed accomplished a lot and his account of 14 summits is certainly impressive beyond belief.

However, this book so far has been the most self-centered, yet least articulate, autobiography I’ve ever read.
Perhaps being so self-centered (and macho - suppressing any vulnerability or insecurity within) is what made it possible to achieve his physically challenging endeavors. But it’s so disappointing to see there is no discussion of personal development along the way and all discussions of how not to show any fear or deep thoughts.

The first 70 pages are mostly about his military training with a very toxic masculine language that is really outdated and has very little value. You read one page after another about how he considers himself super athletic, too good for any challenge, “only having faith in himself”, and “never acknowledging vulnerability of emotions” but not once do you get a detailed account of how he managed psychological challenges and gained better understanding of the world when going through these experiences.

I gave up reading because I felt, although I think what he did was incredibly impressive and beyond human, the account of his physical training and outdated views didn’t make me gain any respect for him.

yes, Nima has built a superior body. But mind? Mindset? Value systems? Nothing that I can find inspiring Beyond Possible: One Soldier, Fourteen Peaks — My Life In The Death Zone