Kristin Harila says her pursuit of Nims Purja’s 8000ers record is ‘over for now’


After six months of steep rock faces, waist-deep snowdrifts and the high-altitude death zone, Norwegian mountaineer Kristin Harila has finally encountered an obstacle she cannot overcome: international politics.

On Friday, Harila, 36, announced she was abandoning her months-long effort to obtain a permit to enter China and climb the 26,864ft Cho Oyu or the 26,335ft Shishapangma. The move leaves Harila two peaks away from her goal of becoming the fastest person to climb the world’s 14 peaks above 8,000 meters (26,250ft).

“It’s over for now,” Harila wrote on Instagram. “At the moment I’m just trying to come to terms with the last six months, and especially all the effort we’ve put into trying to get the permits for the last two mountains.”

China restricted foreigners’ access to Tibet at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the country continues to bar foreigners from entering without entry permits from the Tibet Travel Administration.

Harila’s race against time began on April 28 when she scaled her first 8,000m peak of the season, 26,545ft Annapurna, and the climb gave her a November 3 deadline to climb 14. Earlier this month, Harila attempted to climb Nepal’s Cho Oyu – the peak straddles the country’s border with China. But she and her team were pushed back by heavy snowfall and high winds far from the summit.

Harila has also lobbied the Norwegian government – and the climbing world in general – to try to get a permit for her to enter China and climb the peaks via their traditional commercial mountaineering routes. As October progressed, these efforts continued to fail.

“We have left no stone unturned in this process and have exhausted all possible avenues to achieve this, but unfortunately, for reasons beyond our control, we were unable to obtain the permits in time,” she said. added.

The move means the highest mountain speed record will remain in the hands of Nirmal “Nims” Purja, who in 2019 climbed 14 in six months and six days. Purja’s Effort and Her 2021 Netflix Documentary 14 summits: nothing is impossible gave considerable attention to the challenge. Prior to Purja’s expedition, the fastest mark was held by South Korean mountaineer Kim Chang-Ho, at seven years and 310 days.

Like Harila, Purja encountered obstacles in obtaining a climbing permit in China, as he sought to climb Shishapangma after the closing of the climbing season on the mountain. Purja worked with the Nepalese government, and he also lobbied for support from the climbing community, and eventually got the go-ahead to climb the summit. In 2019, Purja told reporters that getting the permit was one of the hardest parts of his six-month expedition.

“In all honesty, the most emotional moment was when we managed to persuade the Chinese to open Shishapangma just for our team,” he said. The Guardian in 2019.

The race to beat Purja captivated the mountaineering world this summer, as Harila, a former elite cross-country skier, climbed several peaks in early spring. After Annapurna, she reached the 26,795ft Dhaulagiri and the 28,169ft Kangchenjunga in early May, before climbing Mount Everest, the 27,940ft Lhotse and the 27,825ft Makalu in two weeks. At the end of May, she was ahead of Purja’s schedule, having climbed six out of 14 mountains in just 29 days. Harila then traveled to Pakistan in June and July, where she climbed Nanga Parbat, K2, Broad Peak, then Gasherbrum I and II. According to the Explorers Web website, she was only five days behind Purja’s pace at the end of July.

Harila has climbed all of her peaks alongside the same two guides: Nepalese climbers Dawa Ongju Sherpa and Pasdawa Sherpa. In her Instagram post, she thanked both men for their efforts on the 12 peaks they reached together. She also said she plans to return in 2023 to climb the peaks and complete her challenge, even if the speed record is out of reach.

“In times of adversity, you have to find the inner strength, which is why I’m letting you all know that I’m coming back, and I’ll be completing this record next year!” she says. “Right now I’m going back to Norway to be with my family and loved ones.”


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