Here’s an interesting story brought to my attention courtesy of the Adventure Mountain blog. The site_which is run by longtime adventure sports journalists Stephen Nestler_says that on Sunday, India will hand out its annual National Sports Awards for 2020. Among those being honored is a young man by the name of Narender Singh Yadav, who claims to have climbed Mt. Everest back in 2016 at the age of 21. That would make him the youngest Indian national to ever summit, granting him celebrity status and great opportunities in his home country.
The problem is, it seems that Singh Yadav never reached the top at all, going so far as even to falsify photos that allegedly show him standing on the summit.
Narender Singh Yadav – Controversy
According to the Indian mountaineer—who claims to have climbed five of the Seven Summits—he reached the highest point on the planet on the morning of May 2o, 2016. But, his expedition leader was none other than Lhakpa Sherpa, who adamantly denies that Singh Yadav scaled Everest with him that day. In fact, there are reports that he never reached higher than The Balcony on the South Col route, which would put him at roughly 8400 meters (27,559 ft).
Now make no mistake, it takes a tremendous effort to climb above 8000 meters, and reaching that point on the mountain is an accomplishment in and of itself. But it is also far below the summit, with another 400+ (1312 ft) yet to go. No ethical climber would ever claim to have reached the top of Everest when he or she had stopped short at the balcony. In fact, many have failed to top out on their first attempt, only to return later to give it another go.
Lhakpa’s claims against Singh Yadav have been verified by others who were on the mountain that day. Amongst them was Nims Purja, who says that they assisted the young Indian climber on the descent. Purja indicates that he provided Yadav with emergency oxygen bottles to help him return to Camp 4, where he rested for the night before descending the following day. Others have verified those claims, including another Indian climber by the name of Naba Kumar Phukon.
The Himalayan Database verifies that Phukon did reach the top of Everest on May 20, 2016, at the same time as Yadav. But Phukon says his young countryman was nowhere in sight at that time.
Despite the fact that there is so much evidence against Singh Yadav, his claims of a successful summit of gone largely unchallenged back home. In the article for Adventure Mountain, Lhakpa Sherpa says this is likely due to what he calls “dirty politics.” The famed mountain guide doesn’t elaborate much beyond that, but the implication is that there are folks in India who have a vested interest in supporting Yadav’s story, and they are helping to prop him up as a national hero.
Indian Mountaineer Uses Clearly Photoshopped Photo as Evidence
As further proof of the Indian climber’s false claims, Nepalese newspaper Ekantipur recently took a look at Singh Yadav’s summit photo. What they found was something akin to one of those “spot the things that are wrong with this photo” puzzles. The most obvious highlights were the fact that the young man was wearing a climbing helmet while on the summit, along with oddly-shaped shadows that are pointing in the wrong direction.
Perhaps the most telling fail, however, is that his oxygen mask doesn’t have a tube attached to it, which is a necessary piece of equipment for anyone hope to—you know—actually breathe oxygen from the tank. Clearly the photo was forged, and in a sloppy manner no less. If you’re looking for a good laugh, you can view it for yourself at the top of this blog post.
Despite all of the mountain evidence, however, Singh Yadav is still set to receive his award from the Indian government. The irony of it is that the award is called the “Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award,” an obvious nod to the most famous Sherpa of them all. Norgay was with Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953 and reached the summit alongside the legendary New Zealander.
The duo was the first to ever stand on top of the “Big Hill’, paving the way for all those who would follow. As you can imagine, giving an award that bears Norgay’s name to a climber who has lied about his accomplishments has sat well with other Nepalese mountaineers. Whether or not that really matters remains to be seen.
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