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Climber Nirmal Purja Faces Sexual Abuse Allegations

June 1, 2024
Climber Nirmal Purja

Renowned climber Nirmal Purja (Nims) faces serious sexual abuse allegations from former Miss Finland Lotta Hintsa and Dr. April Leonardo.

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In an interview with ‘The New York Times,’ former Miss Finland Lotta Hintsa accused Purja of abusing her in a Kathmandu hotel on March 30, 2023.

Hintsa’s recently published book, ‘The Mountains of My Life 2,’ released in December, alludes to an unpleasant incident with a famous climber, mentioning a non-consensual kiss without naming the individual. In the report published on Friday, Hintsa identified Nims as the person involved, describing the events that transpired in the hotel room. She recounted that Purja suggested they take coffee to his room instead of drinking it in the lobby. “When I refused and he started taking off my clothes, I felt paralyzed and disconnected from my body,” she stated.

Hintsa explained that Purja was unresponsive to her refusal, causing her significant fear due to his strong physical presence and military training. She mentioned that Purja became increasingly angry as she resisted his advances. Eventually, when he went to the bathroom, she took the opportunity to put her clothes back on.

The New York Times reported that Purja declined to comment on the allegations. However, his lawyer, Philip Kelly, issued a written statement calling the claims “false and defamatory.”

Additionally, Dr. April Leonardo from California accused Purja of repeatedly pulling her and kissing her without consent during an expedition to K2, the world’s second-highest peak. Purja’s lawyer also denied these accusations.

Both women shared their experiences with friends and family at the time, and The New York Times reviewed these communications.

Alison Levine, leader of the first American female team to climb Mount Everest in 2002, also spoke about facing verbal abuse and threats from guides during her climb. She emphasized that the most challenging and frightening aspects of mountaineering often stem from interactions with people rather than the environment. Levine returned to Nepal in 2020 and successfully climbed Mount Everest, remarking on the heightened risks posed by personal relationships.

Nims, through his company Elite Himalayan Adventures, assists climbers in their ascents and frequently posts on social media encouraging women to pursue mountaineering. He has guided notable figures such as Qatari royal Asma Thani and Russian model Victoria Bonya. Additionally, Netflix has produced a documentary about Purja’s climbing endeavors.

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