Gurkhas

Former UK Special Forces Operator Rescues Critically Ill Doctor From Mountainside

‘Nims’ briefly put his world record attempt on hold to save the life of another climber.

Former Special Boat Service member Nirmal 'Nims' Purja MBE had been descending Mt Annapurna during his Guinness World Record breaking climb and made aware that another climber was lost on the mountain for two days and in grave danger.

A rescue helicopter managed to spot the stricken climber. However, at an altitude of 26,545 feet, this was too high to land.

Quick action was needed to save the climber's life, so Nims volunteered to tie himself under the helicopter to get to the casualty. Nims said:

“Because the altitude is too great we had to do a ‘longline rescue’ literally hanging underneath the helicopter and are dropped close to the site."

“We still had a long climb past Camp Four, the last base before the summit, and we realised that we had to work quickly.”

Nims Longline Rescue Photo Credit Alit Gurung
Nims Longline Rescue - Photo Credit Alit Gurung

The dramatic rescue took place on Mt Annapurna in the Himalaya’s - the world’s tenth highest mountain at 8,091 metres and considered the most deadly 8,000+ metre mountain, with one death for every three summits.

This rescue happened during the initial stages of Nims' Guinness World Record attempt to climb 14 mountains in Seven months - the current record stands at seven years 11 months.

Nims Longline Rescue Photo Credit Alit Gurung
Nims Helicopter Rescue Photo Credit Alit Gurung

Thanks to Nims quick actions leading the rescue team of four, they managed to move the 49-year-old injured doctor down from the summit to Base Camp Three - where the helicopter was now able to land. Nims said:

“We were able to get Dr Chin to Camp Three where the helicopter came and he was taken straight to Kathmandu Hospital.

“He is alive but still in a critical condition. I did go and visit him in hospital before I continue with the next part of my ‘Project Possible’. He is now with his wife and the medical experts and I wish him a good recovery.”

Watch: Who is Nirmal 'Nims' Purja MBE ?

This is not the first time that during a world record climb Nims has been involved in a rescue, Nims told us:

“When I first started my training, it was geared to climbing Everest without oxygen.

“In 2016 I was executing a solo attempt on Everest when I came across a fellow climber who had been passed by other climbers.

“Being a Gurkha and a former member of the special forces, we never leave any man behind.”

“I used everything I could to bring her below the ‘death zone’ for a rescue. I have never been that tired before.”

Reaching the summit of Annapurna marked the start of the clock on this challenge. Nims said:

“It is never just about reaching the top, the descent can be just as dangerous.”