Scouts can follow one explorer’s quest to conquer the world’s tallest peaks in record time

If you subscribe to Netflix, you might’ve seen a tease to the documentary 14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible. It chronicles Nimsdai Purja, a Nepal-born mountaineer who conquered 14 mountains of 26,000 feet – that includes the tallest three in the world: Everest, K2 and Kangchenjunga. That record feat previously belonged to Korean climber Kim Chang-ho, who finished it in seven-and-a-half years.

Purja did it in a little more than six months.

You can watch the documentary, ranked in the top 10 of most watched on the popular streaming service and you and your Scouts can read his book Beyond Possible, which is also available in a young readers edition from National Geographic.

Purja’s memoir, which was released Jan. 4, details how he summited all of the “death zone” peaks and the mindset that helped him accomplish the incredible goal in 2019. It also describes another seemingly impossible task: climbing K2, the second-tallest mountain in the world, in the winter – something never before achieved until last January.

The book follows how his early life and British Special Forces training prepared him for both feats.

“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,” he writes. “But elite combat wasn’t enough. I wanted more of a test.”

The test involved financial hurdles, political negotiations and family struggles. To face those challenges required lessons he learned on the mountain.

“I knew that to quit on the mountain was to die,” he writes.

Scouts can learn similar lessons of perseverance, training and setting goals from reading Beyond Possible, and implement those attributes in their own adventures, whether they’re daring or not.

Check out Beyond Possible, available for $30 or $18.99 in the Nat Geo young readers edition.

Purja on the summit of Makalu. Photo courtesy of Geljen Sherpa
About Michael Freeman 304 Articles
Michael Freeman, an Eagle Scout, is an associate editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines.