Questions About Marco Confortola’s Kangchenjunga Summit

Questions have surfaced about Marco Confortola’s summit on Kangchenjunga. The Italian climber later claimed that he summited Kangchenjunga on May 5 at 2:30 pm Nepal time. His home team explained that he couldn’t communicate his success at the time because of problems with his satphone’s batteries.

One day earlier, he had mentioned that he was monitoring conditions since the cold was affecting his already damaged feet. (He lost his toes to frostbite on an earlier expedition.)

Kangchenjunga would be Confortola’s 12th 8,000m summit without oxygen on his 14×8000’ers quest. His two remaining peaks would be Nanga Parbat and Gasherbrum I.

“The satisfaction of reading this altitude on my watch, which will remain as indelible as the ascent of this mountain that I have attempted three times,” Confortola wrote beside this picture on his Instagram.


Controversial ‘summit’ photo

Confortola shared a photo of his sports watch showing an altitude of 8,592m and an unusual photo showing snow and rocks near the summit of Kangchenjunga. Neither he nor anyone else was in the picture.

Summit picture shared on Marco Confortola’s Instagram


As media and climbers noted to ExplorersWeb, the picture seems to have been cropped from another photo posted by Shehroze Kashif, who summited that same day at 3 pm.

Shehroze Kashif’s summit picture, with the section possibly used by Confortola’s team.


After the summit news, Confortola’s home team noted the climber was suffering from ophthalmia. He was going to have his eyes checked by doctors in Italy before heading to Nanga Parbat. They announced that he would undergo an MRI. No further updates or details about the climb have been posted since then.

Seven Summit Treks, with whom Confortola climbed, never mentioned him on their summiters’ list that day. For May 5, STT congratulated Namja Bhote, Shehroze Kashif, Rudi Bollaert, Purnima Shrestha, Ariunzul Chuluunbaatar, and Ming Temba Sherpa. They noted “+ counting” but never updated the information.

No response

ExplorersWeb asked STT and Marco Confortola for further details. Weeks later, we have received no response. As far as we know,  The Himalayan Database team has not read the Italian’s summit report yet.

Days after returning home, Dutch climber Wilco van Rooijen published a complete report of his own summit attempt, in which he mentions how they met Confortola when he returned to Base Camp after his summit push.

Marco [Confortola] was the first to arrive in BC. Cas [van de Gevel] and I embraced him and assumed he hadn’t made it to the top because we had heard that from Lolo’s[Lolo Gonzalez]  Sherpa. But suddenly Marco indicated that he had made it to the top! He proudly showed his photos on his mobile. It was close to the top. In the background you could see about 4 or 5 climbers in red down suits climbing further [up]. But Marco indicated that the top was sacred and the place where he had stopped was the ritual top*. Cas and I looked at each other. We also know the pictures of the climbers who had stopped just before the “holy” top, but that point looked really different. Moreover, if you want to complete the 14 eight-thousanders, you have to come up with convincing ‘summit photos’. At the same time, we realized that it is not our story, but that this would still have a tail.

* About the “sacred summit”: Kangchenjunga is a sacred mountain for the local people of Sikkim, on the Indian side of the mountain. For that reason, the first British summiters, led by George Band, and many later expeditions respectfully stood one or two metres away from the highest point. However, the tradition is not strictly followed, especially since the peak is mainly climbed from Nepal nowadays.

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.