Everest: Nirmal Purja Posts Video of Cut Ropes, Shares Details

The last teams on Everest are back down. Among them is Nirmal Purja, who summited both Everest and Lhotse with his small Elite Exped team. He also brought down a video showing cut ropes.

“People call me a liar, but that’s the evidence,” Purja says in the video, which shows ropes of different colors tied together. Text overlaid on the video states that the footage was recorded at 8:40 pm on Monday, just below the Balcony (8,430m). This is about the midway point on a typical summit day on Everest’s South Side, when climbers set off from Camp 4.

a yellow rope cut and tied to a blue one, held by a climber in high altitude clothes

A guide in Purja’s team checks a rope cut. Photo: Nirmal Purja


Purja’s team was not quite alone on the mountain. Sanu Sherpa was also there. As we reported yesterday, the double 14×8,000’er Sherpa summiter was guiding a private client with 8K Expeditions. Elite Exped’s and his were the last teams on Everest.

Sanu, who also summited Everest on May 11, confirms in the video that there was a new yellow rope the last time he was there. In front of him is a cut yellow rope and a loose blue one.

Sanu sherpa with head lamp and read dawn suit

Sanu Sherpa in a frame of the video by Elite Exped


Purja’s video also records several sherpas, mainly from 8K, who confirmed that a 40-meter-long section of rope was missing between two anchors just below the Balcony. Check it out here:

Easily solved problem

“My team replaced the missing rope, and we continued to the summit,” Nirmal Purja told ExplorersWeb. “Sanu and [his] client also went up but then turned around not far from the South Summit, because his client had some vision problems.”

Ellte Exped has confirmed the team summited Everest on May 28 at 5:45 am and then headed to Lhotse, which they summited at 4:15 pm.

Close shot of Nims without mask on the summit of Everest in 2024

Nirmal Purja on the summit of Everest. Photo: Nirmal Purja


On Sunday, the day before his summit push, as his team moved from Camp 2 to Camp 3, Purja learned about some cut ropes along the normal route. A Peak Promotion team was heading up to retrieve the body of someone who had died years before from the upper sections of the mountain. At some point, the Peak Promotion climbers reported on the radio (audible for all teams) that they could not carry out their mission because of the lack of ropes.

Purja then posted an angry video on social media, claiming the ropes were purposely cut when he was going up with his team. He blamed “dirty politics” in the expedition industry and people trying to bring him down, “simply because I have disrupted the industry and been extremely successful,” he said.

Pioneer Adventure, however, stated that their client, Satyadeep Gupta of India, together with two supporting sherpas, summited Everest on Monday, May 27, one day after the rope was supposedly cut. They reported the ropes in place. Purnima Shrestha also summited for the third time this year on Saturday, May 25. No one reported issues with the ropes then, either.

Investigation opened

Local media then accused Purja of damaging Nepal’s image. Nepal’s Department of Tourism opened an investigation against him “for disseminating misinformation with the intention of getting popularity.”

“I welcome the Department of Tourism investigation into the cut ropes and hope they will find out what happened and why,” Purja wrote today with the second video post, showing the cut ropes.

When we asked Pioneer Adventure, they insisted the ropes were in “fine condition.” They said they would make an official statement soon. They have also reported the issue to officials at the Ministry.

ExplorersWeb has asked their client, Satyadeep Gupta, for his perspective.

Why the fuss?

Questions remain in this peculiar story. Was that section of missing rope an unsurpassable obstacle for a strong team such as Elite Exped, which also had only one (unnamed) client and an entire support team?

“No,” Purja said. “A climbing team could have passed that section without ropes if the client is strong and if the guide is capable and experienced.”

Purja noted that something similar happened earlier this season on Annapurna, where there were no ropes above 7,500m. Purja passed that section anyway, while another team retreated.

“Of course, we could have bypassed that section [on Everest],” Purja explained. “I was never worried about it, since we are always prepared with our own guiding ropes. It was the fact that the ropes had been cut that got me upset when I heard it on the radio.

“It’s hard to stay on the top with all these jealous people around me,” he added. “It is not the first time it happens.”

Unanswered questions

So, who (or what) cut the ropes, when, and why? Was it a rock, a climber unable to unclip, or someone purposely? But in that case, what was the motivation?

A final oddity: On that crowded section of the mountain, there are always two ropes: one for those going up and another for those coming down. If the cut rope was the yellow one, where was the other? Was it the blue rope shown in the video? Mingma G told Explorersweb that the blue rope was from last year, but fresh snow should have buried a year-old rope. Yet the blue rope was exposed and looked in good shape.

The mystery remains.

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.