Movie Review: 14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible

Imagine what it must take to successfully climb an 8000-meter-high mountain.  (That’s 26,246 feet for those of you who are sticking with the Imperial system.)  Now imagine what it must take to climb 14 mountains of that scale.  Now imagine what it must take to do it in just seven months.  With the new Netflix documentary film, 14 PEAKS: NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE, you don’t have to imagine it any longer because you can watch Nirmal “Nims” Purja do it.

Co-written and directed by sports documentarian Torquil Jones (BOBBY ROBSON: MORE THAN A MANAGER), 14 PEAKS: NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE covers Nims’ incredible feat in 2019 that spanned Nepal, Pakistan and Tibet.  Scaling the world’s 14 highest peaks with an altitude greater than 8000 meters in just six months and six days, Nims smashed the world record that was first set by Reinhold Messner – something that took the Italian climber 16 years to achieve.  South Korean Kim Chang cut the record down to seven years in 2013.  By the time Nims’ Project Possible ended, the Nepali-Brit had garnered six new world records including the fastest summit of the three highest mountains in the world – Everest, K2 and Kanchenjunga, and the fastest consecutive summits of Everest, Lhotse and Makalu.  He did that in just 48 hours, beating his own previous record of five days.

Much of 14 PEAKS: NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE shows Nims and his team of Sherpas tramping through waist-deep snow at ridiculous angles, inching their way across deep gorges and laying fixed lines down as they scale these majestic peaks.  Framed against the bluer-than-blue sky and the whiter-than-white snow, the views at the top are beyond spectacular.  Occasionally, the team stops while an avalanche cascades down just a few feet away.  At other times, blizzards and blistering winds slow their progress but they all press on, never losing hope.  Nims makes it look so easy, especially as he is able to summit three peaks in two days, but the film cuts away from time to time to remind viewers that he’s no hack.  He’s a focused machine.  In one scene, Nims’ oxygen intake is being measured at The Altitude Centre, a sports performance institute in London, and the altitude performance specialist has to comment that he’s never seen results like Nims’.

Audiences also learn that Nims is decent human as the film shows him and his team rescuing two distressed climbers on the mountains, risking their own lives in the process.  In an interview he gave to SkyNews after summiting 11 of the 14 mountains, Nims said that he made four such rescues during the project.  That’s Nims, though.  He’s understated perhaps to his own detriment.  As he says at the end of the journey, had he been white, there would have been far more media coverage of his feat than there was.  But Nims did what he ultimately set out to do and that was to put Nepalis rightfully front and center of the mountaineering sport.

14 PEAKS: NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE is streaming now on Netflix.  Watch it the next time you think you’re too tired to do whatever it is you’ve been putting off.

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