If absolute power corrupts absolutely  – does absolute ‘fame’ do the same?

On the heels of the life sentence handed down to famed climber Charles Barrett for rape, renowned mountaineer Nirmal ’Nimsdai’ Puria has come under the glaring spotlight of The New Your Times for sexual harassment.

In May 31, an article by Anna Callaghan and Jenny Vrentas of The New York Times outlined that some female climbers have accused renowned mountaineer Nirmal ‘Nimsdai’ Purja of sexual misconduct.

The article, titled “For Female Climbers, Dangers Go Beyond Avalanches and Storms,” presents allegations from two women who claim Purja made aggressive advances or touched them sexually against their wishes.

Before we start, The New York Times is not some clickbait newspaper rag; this feature will have been well documented, well researched and backed by a legal team second to none.

In the article Finnish mountaineer Lotta Hintsa recounted an incident in March 2023, where Purja allegedly led her to his hotel room in Kathmandu, undressed her without consent, and masturbated next to her. Similarly, American doctor April Leonardo, who was on an expedition with Purja’s company Elite Exped in June 2022, accused him of forcibly kissing her and attempting to initiate sex in her tent at K2 base camp.

Nimsdai / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202310060972 // Usage for editorial use only //

Both women felt powerless and uncertain about reporting the incidents, which occurred outside of their own country. Neither contacted the police.

In response to the article, Purja’s public relations team denied the allegations in a statement on Instagram, calling them “defamatory and false.” Purja declined interview requests, providing a written statement through his lawyer denying any wrongdoing.


instagram @eliteexped

The accusations sparked a conversation in the comments section of a post by AWE Expeditions (https://awexpeditions.org/) @awexpeditions, a female-operated guiding company, which expressed deep concern over the allegations.


Following the post, Osprey, one of Purja’s sponsors, announced they had severed ties with him.

Osprey said it had cut ties with Purja.

“Osprey is aware of the recent allegations made against mountaineer Nirmal Purja. He is no longer an Osprey ambassador.”

Purja, who gained fame from the Netflix documentary “14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible,” owns the ‘Nimsdai’ brand and co-founded Elite Exped. He has collaborated with brands like Red Bull, Nike, Grivel, Scarpa, and Osprey. In 2018, he received an MBE for his mountaineering achievements and an honorary doctorate from Loughborough University in December 2023.

The The New York Times article also mentioned the conviction of US climber Charles Barrett for sexual abuse in 2016 and highlighted a 2018 survey by the US initiative ‘SafeOutside,’

(#SafeOutside is an independent grassroots initiative designed to combat sexual harassment and sexual assault (SHSA). Organisations from climbing and outdoor communities worldwide have joined forces to collect data, drive conversation, share best practices, provide press coverage, and address the issues.)

Safeoutside revealed that 47% of women and 16% of men reported unwanted sexual behaviour while climbing. The women who spoke with the New Your Times, Hintsa and Leonardo, hope their stories will raise awareness and improve safety for women in the male-dominated sport of mountaineering.

Following the publication, several female climbers, including Alison Levine @levine_alison and Melissa Arnot Reid, @melissaarnot voiced their support. Arnot Reid encouraged women to share their stories, stating that she had “been waiting for over a year for this story to break.”

On June 5, Purja issued further statements on his personal Instagram, Elite Exped account, and Nimsdai Foundation page, continuing to deny the allegations.

Watch this space


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