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 is a journalist specialised on high-altitude mountaineer and expedition news working with ExplorersWeb.com.

Angela Benavides 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 national and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporates, press manager and communication executive, radio reporter and anchorwoman, etc. Experience in Education: Researcher at Spain’s National University for Distance Learning on the European Commission-funded ECO Learning Project; experience in teaching ELE (Spanish as a Second Language) and transcultural training for expats living in Spain.

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bagra
bagra
1 month ago

duh… another day another himalayan controversy
miss Hawley we miss you

Craig Quigley
Craig Quigley
1 month ago

Haha the guy has form for telling porkies.

andrea
andrea
1 month ago

Some armchair forensics, I pasted both images and lined them up as best as I could:

https://freeimage.host/i/XicebR

Hard to say because the colors seem a bit different (could be a filter?) and it seems like it would have had to be rotated but so he could have been simply standing a few feet over? The clouds are the exact same but that could be accounted for if there is no wind and a 30 min gap between summits…

andrea
andrea
1 month ago
Reply to  andrea

Shown with transparency at 50% for comparison:

https://freeimage.host/i/mc-trans.Xil6CB

Marty
Marty
1 month ago
Reply to  andrea

Clouds at that altitude, and distance, do not stay static even for 5 minutes. This is a statement of fact and not a comment on the claimed ascent.

OldHikerDude
OldHikerDude
1 month ago

Is that first image showing the altimeter also doctored? The second image is clearly a cut from Kashif’s image. Besides ophthalmia, the doctors might want to test Marco for Christian Stangl Syndrome.

Shivering Yeti
Shivering Yeti
1 month ago

Oh come on, these are minor differences. We are living in now very modern times. Like jumars all over the place and if there is no fixed rope it can not be the summit. Congrats to Marco.

Yeti
Yeti
1 month ago

If he showed a fake “summit pic”, it means he must have downloaded it while coming down. An altimeter can simply be adjusted manually for the pic. Seems to me that Wilco van Rooijen is stabbing his old 2008 acquaintance in the back?!?!?!? Anyway, I simply don’t understand how a, especially, PROFESSIONAL climber can lie about his summit. But there are so many now who seem to be lying. It’s disgusting. Nims would not do that… You can lie to the entire world, but you can’t cheat yourself: Live with a lie? No thanks! Rodlphe Popier will certainly have a… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Yeti
Yeti
Yeti
1 month ago
Reply to  Yeti

(edit is not working) Congratulations to NAMJA! mero saathi!

damiengildea
1 month ago
Reply to  Yeti

“Nims would not do that…” In Sept 2019 Nims had a meeting in KTM with a member of the HDB team before he went to Manaslu, in which he was informed that where people were stopping on Manaslu was not the summit. But he stopped there anyway and afterwards still claimed to have summited even though he knew it was not the summit. Then he very quietly went back last year and traversed to the summit after MingmaG had fixed a rope for him. It’s neither wise nor fair to hold anyone up as a paragon of virtue. Everyone has… Read more »

Yeti
Yeti
1 month ago
Reply to  damiengildea

That debate re. is so boring. And really upsetting!
In 2019, the summit debate was not an issue. Nims summited Manaslu half an hour before me, last September… Have you climbed it?

Praeriepanther
Praeriepanther
1 month ago
Reply to  Yeti

Nims had also lied after Dhaulagiri during 14 Peaks. He was openly asked on Twitter whether he used oxygen and he clearly answered, no, they weren’t. Then he was shown a video segment of that very climb, published by one of his sherpas. He was climbing on oxygen, mask and bottle clearly visible. When confronted with the information he never replied. Later, he “only” claimed to have finished the 14 Peaks on O’s. So there you go, even self proclaimed heroes can lie once in a while…. Majority of his fans will never get to know this.

Hussain
Hussain
10 days ago
Reply to  Praeriepanther

Someone should ask Nims to see the metadata on his ‘viral photo’ of the queue on Everest in 2019 that he told the world he took that he capitalized on. It is rumoured to have been taken by a Sherpa with him and he took all the credit (and the money!) lying to the world in his Netflix movie and the international media. He did that without even flinching. Everyone on the inside knows who he really is. They’re all too afraid to speak up, including the locals.

Last edited 10 days ago by Hussain
damiengildea
1 month ago
Reply to  Yeti

No. The Manaslu issue had been out there and discussed for years, just ignored by those with a vested interest. This article was started in 2019 and came out in 2020 because the issue had been building since at least 2013.

Have I climbed it? No. And anyone who jumars ropes they didn’t fix, sucking bottled O2 hasn’t ‘climbed’ it either.

I stay right away from the 8000m dumpster fire. I’ve been on an 8000er and seen it with my own eyes. And I post under my own name.

Last edited 1 month ago by damiengildea
Peter Flynn
Peter Flynn
1 month ago
Reply to  damiengildea

He also claims he climbed K2 without huffing from an O2 tank, which is also highly suspect.

No comment
No comment
28 days ago
Reply to  damiengildea

A swiss climbing magazine recently published an article about his questionable credibility and asked him for details of some of his very questionable heroic stories. They have a whitness that said his version is “completely fake and false[…] Nirmal Purja made up the whole story to make a hero of himself.” The magazine’s questions have never been answered:
https://www.lacrux.com/alpinismus/nirmal-purja-zweifel-an-der-glaubwuerdigkeit-recherche/

OldHikerDude
OldHikerDude
1 month ago

Let’s put the whole Nims thing aside for now. He’s always going to cause controversy. I don’t really think he cares. The spotlight shines on him too brightly for him to see outside of it. Marco is a whole different situation. He’s been around for a while. He’s had issues with being truthful in the past. Most of us who have followed big time mountaineering for a while find it extremely disappointing that Marco would pull a stunt like this. I have faith that he will “come clean” soon.

Violet Squire-Veen
Violet Squire-Veen
29 days ago

If you are THAT near the summit, is it even an issue that you didn’t go another few yards? Especially since it’s still considered a successful summit if you don’t reach the extreme pinnacle out of respect for local religious beliefs? He has to have a great deal of integrity to have pushed himself to achieve so many difficult summits in the past. For whatever reason he may not have made it to the last step, he seems to feel he made a successful attempt. I am believing him.

Francesco
Francesco
27 days ago

The photo posted by Confortola is extracted from Kashif’s one. Recently he said (https://www.montagna.tv/202521/kanchenjunga-dubbi-sulla-vetta-di-marco-confortola/) that was a “mistake” by the guy who manages all his social media. In Italy, where I live, Confortola is not very popular and is less considered in the climber community (Messner, Simone Moro, Herve Barmasse, Matteo della Bordella etc) mainly for the K2 events and all the suspects on his behaviour. He has never give a complete report about that and prefers often to post photos of his feet without toes. I think that this is not the only Confortola’s summit under investigation.

Dr. Leo Montejo
Dr. Leo Montejo
15 days ago

Once again, I implore those who keep thinking it’s a feat to go above 8000m without oxygen as total BS. Nobody in the planet has control over the chemical reactions in their Krebs cycle which uses oxygen as a way to unload its trash hydrogen ions. Nobody has control over their oxygen-hemoglobin dissociation curve, nor of their genetics which may favor them at high altitude. So if this is the case, you are not any better for surviving a no-O2 climb above 8000m. You’re just lucky that your genes allowed for this. This discussion is no smarter than claiming that… Read more »