14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible

14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible ★★★★½

I'm not a climber, but I've always been fascinated with adventure sports and the psychology of the people who accomplish incredible outdoor feats. Nims is, to put it simply, one of the biggest badasses on the planet, and this chronicle of his team's historic attempt to climb the world’s fourteen highest peaks in less than seven months is astonishing.

The attempt was dubbed “Project Possible 14/7" and sought to do in seven months what had only been completed previously in eight years. That's insane. Just even trying this is something that almost anyone, even giants of the alpine climbing community, would call nuts. But Nims is built different. Drawing from a determination and will of the strongest kind, a background in Nepali Gurkha special forces, and a uniquely high endurance, we see him attack this super dangerous challenge with joy. With regards to that physical skill, Nims has physiological testing done that shows he is just off the charts in shape, more so than practically any other human being. It gives him a distinct advantage to pull this off in the same way that Alex Honnold's smaller than normal amygdala makes it much harder for him to experience fear and this easier to take the risks he does when climbing.

The doc is full of beautiful one-of-a-kind imagery and death-defying camera footage. It also features interviews with greats of the climbing world such as Jimmy Chin and Reinhold Messner, and has some animated sections that makes for an exciting way to show some of the stories Nims tells that don't have accompanying archival footage. We also get to spend a good amount of time with Nims' lovely family and learn about how they motivate him, and also see he and his team literally partying together before and after some of their summits.

If there's one small criticism I have, it's that with fourteen peaks to cover in a running time of only 99 minutes, the story moves very fast and we don't actually spend a considerable amount of time on the mountains. When we are there with the team, it's incredible, but the legendary Mount Everest is only peak number four that is conquered and they all seem to blend together by the end. It is a bigger story being told, though, and even without a lot of individual summit detail, every photo we see from the top of the world is breathtaking.

I'll never cease being amazed at the things humans accomplish and unlike many documentaries I've watched about people in this sport, Nims has so much personality that makes him extremely relatable and watchable. He's also got at ton of passion for inspiring others and is respectful of not just the mountains themselves but of everyone that helps him achieve his goals. In one moving scene he specifically calls out the many climbers who've relied on Sherpas without ever acknowledging they are people, with names. What he and the "Project Possible" team are able to do is the stuff of legend and deserves to go down as a well-known part of history. Nirmal Purja has done the people of Nepal extremely proud, and we're lucky to live in a time where we get to experience his journey tangentially through the power of film.

Fun fact: Nims commenced his incredible challenge by summiting his first peak, Annapurna, on the day of my 40th birthday.

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