60 minutes casts doubts on Greg Mortenson K2 story

60 minutes in the USA has run an in depth look at the claims of Greg Mortenson. They looked at 3 key claims about his expedition to K2 and where the funds were going from his book ‘Three Cups of Tea’.

A little background first. Greg Mortenson claimed in his book that he made an attempt on K2 but abandoned it after trying to rescue another climber. Exhausted he and a porter headed away from the mountain, got lost and ended up at a small village called Korphe. He claimed in his book that the local villagers looked after him because his health was poor after an attempt on K2. He vowed that he would return and start a school at this village to help them back. Since then he has written a book about his experiences on K2 and the setting up of schools in the region. There has been a foundation setup to raise money for this program. He regularly gives lectures about his experiences.

The first claim by 60 minutes is that he never actually went to this village after coming down from K2. Reporters from 60 minutes went to this village to investigate the claims. What they found was that he certainly never went there after coming down from K2 in 1993.

Instead 60 minutes found the porters who accompanied him and they said that he did not get lost after coming down from K2. Instead he went there a year later and before that had never heard of the village.

A donor and author called Krakauer  told 60 minutes that the story in ‘Three Cups of Tea’ is a beautiful story but it is not true. One of Krakauer’s close friends hiked out of K2 with Mortenson and he told Krakauer that the story was a fabrication. Mortenson did end up building a school in this village but according to Krakauer the real reason for doing so was different to what was in the book.

The next claim that 60 minutes tries to debunk in the abduction of Mortenson by the Taliban in 1996. In his book, Mortenson has a picture of his abductors. But when 60 minutes went to investigate, they found that the people in the photo were not terrorists or Taliban. Mansur Khan Mahsud was one of the men in the photo and he said that they were not kidnappers rather they were there to protect him. Asked why Mortenson would make this up Mahsud replied that he did it to sell his book.

60 minutes also investigated where all of the funding has gone from the foundation Mortenson setup to raise money for schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They found that there had only been one audit of the books in 14 years.

A charity group is concerned that the donors of money to these schools might not be going where they intend it to. They think that some of this money might be going to promote Mortenson’s books rather than to the schools. 60 minutes found that some of the schools claimed to have been built were empty, were built by someone else, or were never built in the first place.

They asked Greg Mortenson to appear on their show but he did not respond.

Source: CBS 60 minutes

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