According to Indian climbers Vikas Rana, Shobha Banwala, and Ankush Kasana, the trio summited Mt. Everest on May 26 along with four Sherpa guides. According to the physical evidence and the testimony of other climbers, they never made it past Camp III and totally lied about reaching the peak.
The Himalayan Times began investigating the team’s claims after they were celebrated by the local press in the northern Indian state of Haryana. The Times quickly discovered some glaring holes in the group’s story. The way the climbers tell it, the team reached the roof of the world at 10:30 a.m. and were conveniently the only people who summited that day. However, they were spotted by other climbers at Everest Base Camp some 11,000 feet below the summit only two hours later, which makes them either the fastest hikers in human history or liars. Even before accounting for the fact it was apparently too windy that day for anyone to have reached the top, nobody is dropping 11,000 feet that quickly without a squirrel suit.
Chhiring Sherpa said he met the team at 12:30 p.m. on the day of their alleged summit, which meant the three climbers and their four guides would have to have hiked 12.5 miles, descended 11,000 feet, and navigated the Lhotse Face and Khumbu Icefall all in one third of the time it usually takes to make it from the summit to Camp IV. Sherpa said that was “highly unlikely.” Guide Ngima Norbu Sherpa also told the Times that he and other Sherpas decided to head down to Base Camp on May 25 when the three climbers couldn’t move above Camp III.
In total, eight people were part of the expedition led by Prestige Adventures. Prestige owner and CEO Damber Parajuli said only one person from the trip actually made it to the top of the mountain. Parajuli said Megha Parmar successfully reached the summit on May 22 with the documentation to prove it. None of the three climbers accused of faking their attempt had summit photos to prove they made it, and Parajuli told Outside he alerted the relevant authorities. Somehow, a liaison from the Nepal Ministry of Tourism approved the trio’s summit claims despite admitting himself that he never saw any photos from the top. When confronted by the Times, Banwala declined to provide any photographic evidence from the summit or even give the names of the four Sherpas who allegedly helped them to the top.
Because climbing is such an important part of the tourism industry in Nepal, and because this season has been particularly deadly, Everest hoaxes are treated very seriously. In 2016, a couple got caught faking their ascent and wound up getting fired from their jobs and banned from climbing in Nepal for ten years.