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Nepal Bans Two Climbers for Faked Everest Summit

Two Indian climbers, Narender Singh Yadav and Seema Rani Goswami, accused of faking a 2016 Everest summit, were banned from any further climbs by the Nepalese government

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A 2016 Everest summit by two climbers, Narender Singh Yadav and Seema Rani Goswami, both of India, has been officially outed as a fake. Numerous Sherpas and climbers were skeptical of the pair’s 2016 climb at the time, but the two were still presented with the customary Everest summit certificate from Nepal.

After an extensive Indian-Nepalese investigation recently determined they only reached 27,000 feet, however, Nepal’s Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation is imposing a 10-year mountaineering ban on both Yadav and Goswami.

As the number of Everest climbers is increasing each year, so too are attempts to register phony summits, with the Nepalese government receiving dozens of false reports annually. An Everest summit is worth far more than just bragging rights, as well. In India, for example, many summitters are presented with national awards and reap myriad benefits in their personal and professional life, often receiving promotions or other bonuses. This is one reason many believe the flow of climbers from India has increased dramatically of late. Another Indian couple, a pair of police officers, also faked an Everest summit in 2016, and were subsequently fired from their jobs.

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Yadav, who hails from the Indian state of Haryana, was selected for the prestigious “Tenzing Norgay Adventure Award” in August 2020 for his 2016 climb, before the Indian government decided to withhold the award in light of the pending government investigation. One of India’s highest national awards for adventure sports, the Tenzing Norgay Adventure Award features a cash prize equating to around $6,700, among other perks. Yadav’s award has since been fully rescinded.

A New York Times article reported that Yadav claims he “has all the proof required to show he reached the top of the mountain.” Meanwhile, the guide of his 14-person expedition, Naba Kumar Phukon, has long denied that his client managed a summit.

“From day one I am telling everyone that Yadav’s summit claim was false and he morphed his picture,” Phukon said, according to the Hindustan Times. “I was the leader of the expedition and he was part of the team. He never made the summit and even had frostbite. He along with another Haryana mountaineer Seema Rani Goswami had to be rescued by the Sherpas. Because of not sufficient stock of oxygen, Yadav’s Sherpa and I advised him not to proceed further. Later, I went for the summit and on my way back met Yadav and saw his frostbitten toes.”

Yadav subsequently filed a police complaint against Phukon, alleging he was lying. Goswami reportedly denied requests for comment by the New York Times.

To most mountaineers, Yadav’s photos appear blatant forgeries. No reflections in his goggles, rigid flags that look photoshopped in, an oxygen mask with no tube. Even more damning is that the image bears startling similarities to another photo widely circulated on the internet.

Despite increasing faux summitters in recent years and the immense benefits an Everest summit can bring an individual, the Nepalese government still does not impose fines or other penalties on individuals they conclude have faked a summit. The stiffest punishment remains a mountaineering ban.