A court in the Netherlands on Wednesday heard the tape of a walkie talkie conversation in which Dutch climber Bart Vos admits he never reached the summit on 8 October 1984.
After his climb, Vos had become a national hero and was offered a job by IBM. But his success was always in doubt and became a full-blown controversy when his climbing colleague, Mariska Mourik, wrote a book called One Meter Everest in 1999 saying Vos never reached the summit. The controversy was taken to court, and a long-lost tape of the radio appears to have finally clinched the issue.
Vos is clearly heard saying on the tape: "We reached the south summit, but the saddle to the main summit was partly collapsed, so we went down in a hurry because time was running out." Vos' later ascent of Dhaulagiri in 1996 is also doubted.
In an investigative piece titled "Deceit of a mountaineer" published three years ago, journalist Milja de Zwart wrote that accounts of other mountaineers proved that Vos never made it to the top of Mt Everest in 1984. She also investigated the 1996 Dhaulagiri expedition and pieced together evidence from Austrian and Russian climbers who were also on the mountain with the account of the Nepali liaison officer to conclude that Dhaulagiri was also a hoax. "In fact Austrian Edi Koblmuller is quoted as saying, "The Netherland- man got a new nickname among climbers on Dhaulagiri as Neverland-man."
Vos always stuck to his story, saying Mourik was making up her allegations so her book would sell more copies. Mourik says she had suspicions all along about Vos' Everest climb, but she started investigating it after similar allegations surfaced after the Dhaulagiri expedition. The Russians on Dhaulagiri, which included climber Anatoly Moshnikov, apparently declared Vos a "persona non-grata".
On Everest, Vos says his guide, Ganesh Gurung, waved at him from the South Summit when he was on the main summit. But many climbers later said this was nonsense because the main summit is not visible from the south summit. Vos also claims he did not see a teddy bear and a blue oxygen cylinder left by an earlier expedition even though climbers the next day saw it there. He did say that the Chinese tripod was gone, but he could have got this information from earlier expeditions.