The past few weeks have been rough for Mount Everest summit-seekers. Eleven climbers from multiple parties have died so far this season and triggered international scrutiny of the permitting process for climbing the mountain. This followed a report in March that the issue of human excrement on the mountain had become so dire that enforcement was enacted to ensure climbers carry their own feces off the mountain. Now, it appears that deception may be joining the party. According to a report in Outside, three climbers from India may have made false claims about summiting the world’s highest peak in late May.
The three climbers, Vikas Rana, Shobha Banwala, and Ankush Kasana, reported a successful summit bid on May 26, saying they reached the summit around 10:30 AM. The problem is that the trio from northern India claimed they summited the peak alongside four sherpas working with Nepalese tour company Prestige Adventures, but couldn’t provide the name of any of the sherpas and failed to produce a photograph of themselves at the summit. A clear photograph depicting the face of each climber is required by the Nepalese Ministry of Tourism for certification of a successful summit bid. Additionally, according to Outside, the 2019 season showed high winds on May 26 that prevented any successful summits from taking place.
The highest verified point of their expedition was Camp III at 23,500 feet, over 5,500 feet below the summit. A sherpa on the mountain at the same time told The Himalayan Times he met the trio at Base Camp at 12:30 PM on the day of their alleged summit, which would be a near impossibility were they to be at the summit only two hours prior. A typical descent from the summit to Camp IV takes about six hours, with 11 miles and over 8,000 feet in elevation between there and Base Camp.
The climbers had been improperly certified by a liaison officer from the Ministry of Tourism, though that certification is now in question. The owner of Prestige Adventures told Outside that his company “got the summit news just a day before debriefing, but [the climbers] are not able to give proof for it. For this reason, they will not have the certificate without the proof, which we have already informed to the concerned authority.”
If the claims of a false summit report prove true, the trio would be the first to fake a summit claim since a married Indian couple was convicted of doing so in 2016, for which they were banned from climbing in Nepal for 10 years.