Even the world’s highest mountain is not spared of fake news!
Satyarup Siddhanta only discovered he was at the centre of an Everest fraud when he spotted news of an Indian couple who claimed they had scaled the world’s highest peak.
The two had doctored his summit photo, superimposing their own faces to support their claim, and were awarded an official summit certificate from the Nepal authorities.
Ascents of many of the world’s highest peaks are validated based mostly on trust, a system that has until now worked within the close-knit community of high-altitude climbing.
But as the numbers climbing Mount Everest have risen, the question now arises of whether ascents need to be validated more scientifically.
For an Everest summit, climbers have to provide the Nepali or Chinese authorities with a photo from the top and a report from the team leaders and government liaison officers at base camp.
Last year, Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod provided just that, before other climbers said their story and photos didn’t add up.
In one photo, Tarakeshwari’s face had been superimposed on Siddhanta’s, the colour of his boots changed and India’s national flag pasted over his hands.
In another, he had been replaced by Dinesh.
“I looked at their photo and immediately recognised the people around,” Siddhanta told Agence France-Presse. “I took out my own photo to compare. I was shocked; it was my photo.”
The couple were stripped of their summit certificate and banned from Nepal for 10 years.