Worldwide, there are only 14 mountain peaks higher than 8,000 metres, all of which were climbed by Reinhard Messener over 16 years. However, Nims Purja, a relative nobody from Nepal wants to climb all of them in only seven months. Can he do it – and more importantly – can he survive each mountains’ fabled death zone above 8 thousand metres?
… Failure just isn’t in the blood.
14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible is a mountaineering film and its big theme is don’t be afraid to dream big. As its mountain landscapes takes your breath away, this Netflix documentary quickly sets out the stakes. And this is where director Torquil Jones’a 14 Peaks breaks company with other mountaineering movies of late, and by that, I mean both the equally excellent Dawn Wall and Free Solo. Whereas both of these movies are likely to do untold damage to any lingering sense of vertigo you might have, 14 Peaks and its portrait of Nims Purja is a very different beast.
For Nims, this quest is coming from a place of identity. Ever since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay conquered Mount Everest together in 1953, Nims wants to do this for all unnamed Nepalese sherpas who routinely risk their lives so that westerners can tick their bucket lists.
Dubbed Project Possible, Nim’s team has to tackle its first hurdle: money. Facing a relentless barrage of rejection and sponsors who won’t touch their project with a tent pole, Nims the former Gurkha-turned-UK-Special-Forces-soldier just grits his teeth. Re-mortgaging his house, he picks his all-Nepalese team, opining “failure just isn’t in the blood”.
No with the project greenlit, the team head for their first “dead zone” which carries only a third of the normal oxygen that you and I breathe. As a consequence, everything is on the mountain peaks is a life and death decision. If you stop, if you give up, then you die where you stand. However, in his stubborn pursuit of a record that seemingly can’t be beaten, the biggest victory of the movie is how both Nim and his team don’t lose their humanity. Time and time they risk not only their lives but also the overall success of the project, so as to rescue stranded climbers and forge a path for those who have given up hope.
So, whilst this movie has some cracking cinematography and amazing vistas, 14 Peaks becomes actually a movie about humbleness and determination and never forgetting your roots
And that’s why you should see it now on Netflix.