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 summiteer ever, granting him celebrity status and great opportunities I his home country. The problem is, it seems that Singh Yadav never reached the top at all and even went so far as to photoshop his alleged summit photo.
According to the Indian mountaineer—who says he has climbed five of the Seven Summits—he reached the highest point on the planet on the morning of May 2o, 2016. But, his expedition Sherpa was none other than Lhakpa Sherpa, who adamantly denies that Singh Yadav summited 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). It takes a big effort to reach that point on the mountain, but it also well below the summit.
If that wasn’t enough, several other Sherpas—including Nims Purja—say that they assisted Singh Yadav on the decent, providing him with emergency oxygen bottles to help him reach Camp 4. Despite the fact that a number of people have spoken out about this, Singh Yadav’s claims have largely gone unchallenged back home, thanks to what Lhakpa Sherpa calls “dirty politics.”
As further proof of the Indian’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” puzzles. The obvious highlights were the fact that the young man was wearing a climate helmet on the summit, fake shadows pointing in the wrong direction, and an oxygen mask that doesn’t have a tube attached, amongst other issues. Clearly the photo was forged, casting further doubts on the young man’s summit claims. Check it out above to have a good laugh.
Despite all of this evidence however, Singh Yadav is still set to receive his award from the Indian government. The irony of it is, that award is called the “Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Adventure Award,” obviously named after the Sherpa who was the first to climb Everest alongside Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953. As you can imagine, that hasn’t sat well with Nepali climbers. Whether or not that really matters remains to be seen.