Redeemed: Climber Once Banned From Nepal for ‘False Summit’ Triumphs On Everest

Today, four clients, leader Nirmal Purja, and 15 Sherpas summited Everest with Elite Exped. Yet contrary to previous reports, they were not the only ones left on the mountain. An Indian climber was also there, looking for redemption.

Narender Singh Yadav of India summited Everest today at 5:05 am, with Pemba Rita Sherpa and Charturman Rai, outfitted by Pioneer Adventures. This time, he actually reached the summit.

Singh Yadav was the center of a false summit controversy in 2016. That spring, he claimed to have summited Everest with partner Seema Rani. But soon after receiving their certificates from Nepal’s Department of Tourism, expedition partners raised doubts about the success of the two climbers.

The leader of their 14-member expedition, Naba Phukon, said he had only met the two climbers at the South Col. Phukon was on his way back from the summit while Yadav and Rani were yet to start their climb. Already, they were having trouble with their O2 systems.

Phukon only saw Rani again at the Lhotse Face (between C4 and C2), suffering from frostbite. He called for rescuers to come for her, he told The Indian Express. Phukon said at the time that summit claims and the certificate of success were a private matter among the climbers, the outfitting company (SST), and the liaison officer.

File image of Narender Singh Yadav. Photo:


The issue faded and seemed forgotten. After all, he was not a well-known climber. Three years went by. Then in 2019, Yadav was to receive the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award, India’s most prestigious recognition for outdoor sport athletes. This revived the controversy, and media resumed investigating.

A manipulated ‘summit’ photo

In 2020, right before he was to receive the award, the Kathmandu-based Kantipur paper ran a story pointing out how the Indian climber’s summit picture had been clumsily photoshopped. His O2 mask was not attached to a bottle, his goggles showed no reflection, and the shadows in the snow went in a different direction from the shadows belonging to another climber in the image.

Sherpas and other climbers on the mountain that day confirmed the Indians had not reached the summit. Seven Summit Treks alleged that the pair’s Sherpa claimed that they had succeeded. The Ministry should have checked the claim better, the company averred.

Report in Nepali, by the Kantipur newspaper


Then Jamling Norgay, the son of the legendary Tenzing Norgay and an Everest summiter himself, entered the fray and demanded a serious investigation. His renown prompted both Nepal and the Indian authorities responsible for the award to take a second look at the affair. The controversy drew the attention of mainstream media around the world, including The New York Times.

Ultimately, Yadav was stripped of the award. Both he and Seema Rani Goswami were banned from Nepal for six years retroactively, taking their ‘summit’ day as the start of the punishment. They also paid a fine. Their Sherpa, who didn’t speak up about the false summit claim, received a 10,000-rupee fine (about $80). The liaison officer, who probably didn’t show up in Base Camp at all, was issued a warning.


The pair’s six-year ban ended on May 19, hence Narender Singh Yadav ‘s late summit. He reached the top this morning, then returned to Camp 3 for the night. He is expected back in Base Camp tomorrow, presumably with real summit pictures this time.

People who were on Everest on May 20, 2016, said that Yadav cried bitterly in Camp 4 because he had failed to reach the summit. It was clearly important to him. Possibly, the disappointment pressured him to lie about it.

Yet his summit is news not because he was on top of the world today, but mainly because six years ago, he said he was when he was not. Lies in mountaineering have a long lifespan and don’t die out easily, despite time passing.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.