Hot on the heels of the story that three Indian climbers made false summit claims on Mt. Everest this spring, we now have another story of a climber who may have faked her summit photo as well. According to The Himalayan Times, Nepali officials now say they are suspicious of the claims of Nahida Manzoor, a 26-year old climber from the Jammu and Kashmir region of India who claims to have summited the world’s highest peak on May 22.
Questions over those claims came to light as members of the Nepali Department of Tourism were reviewing summit submissions after the climbing season had ended. Manzoor had been awarded her summit certificate on June 13 based on the recommendation of her guiding company, Snowy Horizon Treks & Expeditions, as well as the team’s liaison officer, Dilli Bahadur Thapa. But other climbers on the mountain that day say that Nahida did not go all the way to the top and was actually left behind by her climbing guide –– Nima Kancha Sherpa –– at the South Col.
As these claims have come to light, Bodhraj Bhandari, the Managing Director at Snowy Horizon Treks, says his recommendation for the summit certificate was for the entire team of eight that he was told reached the top of the mountain. Meanwhile, LO Thapa appears to not have even gone to Everest Base Camp at all and simply rubber stamped the summit certificate without ever checking for authenticity. This is a common practice amongst liaison officers, who routinely ignore the requirements of their job.
Apparently, Manzoor doctored –– or as one official put it “morphed” –– the summit photo of another climber to suit her own needs. That other climber was Bhawna Dehariya from Madhya Pradesh, India, who is confirmed to have reached the top of Everest on May 22. In creating the altered photo, Manzoor apparently altered the resolution of the image, changed the color of the down suit that Dehariya was wearing, and altered a sign that the other female climber was holding to reflect her own sponsors. You can view the two photos side-by-side below, with Manzoor’s altered image on the right.
Nepali officials have stopped short of outright claiming that Manzoor faked her summit, but promise they have opened an investigation into the matter. If she is found guilty, her summit certificate will be nullified and wiped from the records. She will likely also face a ban from climbing in Nepal for a minimum of five years.
What is it about Indian climbers that compels them to want to claim false Everest summits? The majority of these incidents over the past few years have involved Indian climbers, often with very bad photoshopped images. The three Indian men who made false summit claims a few weeks back claimed they didn’t have any summit photos at all though, so I’m not sure which is worse. Those men also said they couldn’t remember the names of their Sherpas however, so their stories were quickly dismissed. It is true that back home in India, success on Everest often translates to at least modest fame and fortune. Of course, it also leads to serious disgrace if a fake summit comes to light. At the moment, that looks to be the direction that Manzoor is heading.
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