KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Nepal mountaineering authorities have determined that an Indian couple faked a Mount Everest ascent earlier this year by altering photographs to make it appear they were on the summit, officials said Tuesday.
Mountaineering Department official Gyanendra Shrestha said the government has canceled the climbing certificates issued to Indian citizens Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod and banned them from climbing any mountain in the Himalayan nation for 10 years.
They had claimed they scaled the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak in May and the government issued them climbing certificates based on the photographs. Their declaration was disputed by fellow climbers and an investigation was launched.
Another Indian climber, Satyarup Sidhantha from Bangalore, said it was his photograph that the couple altered to make it appear they were on the summit.
The couple, who are both police officers from Pune in the Indian state of Maharastra, also claimed they were the first Indian couple to scale Everest.
They were not available for comment Tuesday.
This year, 454 people scaled Everest during the busy March-May climbing season, following two years of disasters on the mountain.
Last year's season was scrapped after 19 climbers were killed and 61 injured by an avalanche at the base camp triggered by a massive earthquake. In 2014, an avalanche at the Khumbu Icefall killed 16 Sherpa guides.