Her Mount Everest Record May Inspire More Nepali Women to Climb

June 12, 2024

Nepali photojournalist Purnima Shrestha doesn’t fit the stereotype of the imposing and rugged mountaineer. She stands barely five feet tall, and comes across as soft-spoken and shy. Her easygoing attitude stands in sharp contrast to that of mountaineers who post their latest achievement on social media. When I met her at a cafe in Kathmandu, just five days after she stood atop Mount Everest, the only physical evidence of her mountaineering accolades was the sunburn on her cheeks. Shrestha, 33, earned that sunburn by ascending Mount Everest three times in just 13 days—an accolade that no other woman has ever achieved.

Shtrestha was not born into wealth—her parents were subsistence farmers in a remote village in the Gorkha region of central Nepal. Her childhood home lacked running water, and as a child she fetched drinking water with a large copper pot. Shrestha has now climbed eight peaks above 8,000 meters, and she’s not done. I caught up with Shrestha to talk about her recent accolades on Mount Everest, and her background in Nepal. Outside Online