Two Indian climbers who claimed to have summited Mount Everest, making them eligible for national awards, actually faked the ascent. That's according to authorities in Nepal, who began investigating after questions were raised about the pair's 2016 summit photo. At first glance, Narender Singh Yadav and Seema Rani Goswami appeared to be huddled at the top of the world. But one climber wore an oxygen mask unconnected to an oxygen tank and held flags that were completely straight, suggesting a lack of wind, per Everest Today. Plus there were shadows in opposite directions. Government investigators were pointed to these issues in August, after Yadav was selected to receive India's highest award for adventure sports, reports the New York Times. Yadar, who was 21 in 2016, now claims to have climbed the highest mountain on five of the seven continents.
Nepalese tourism officials had initially believed the evidence presented for Everest, awarding Yadav and Goswami official climbing certificates in 2016. However, the government now says the submitted photos were faked. "Their claims for Everest summit couldn't be established," an official tells the Times. This comes after two other Indian climbers, husband and wife police officers, were found to have doctored summit photos in 2016. The Times notes Indians who summit Everest "are often given national awards." Or, if they work for the government, they might receive "promotions and lifelong benefits." Yadav denies that this was his motive, however. He maintains the climb happened and has filed a police complaint against his Nepalese guide. Climbers found to have faked a summit climb may be banned from all of Nepal's mountains for 10 years. (Everest has a new official height.)