Last week, attempting to address accusations that he’d fabricated large portions of his bestselling book Three Cups of Tea, author and Central Asia Institute founder Greg Mortenson revised his story about stumbling lost into the Pakistani town of Korphe on his way home from K2 in 1993. In an exclusive interview with Outside, Mortenson conceded that he hadn’t spent several days in the village nursing his wounds, as recounted in his bestselling memoir, but insisted that he had wandered into Korphe on that 1993 trip and not a year later, as Jon Krakauer alleges in his blistering exposé “Three Cups of Deceit.”
“I was there a few hours,” Mortenson told Outside’s Alex Heard, “probably two or three hours, had tea, and I said, ‘I gotta go to Askole.’ They took me to a cable-pulley bridge over the Braldu River ... Later, we rejoined Scott [Darsney] and the others, and we drove to Skardu.”
A few days after we posted our interview, Mortenson’s K2 climbing partner Scott Darsney weighed in on the controversy. In an e-mail published yesterday on Outside’s website, Darsney defended his friend’s record and appeared to bolster Mortenson’s revised Korphe story. Darsney confirmed that Mortenson had indeed gotten lost between the Korofong camp and Askole. “He’d ended up in a village on the wrong side of the Braldu River,” wrote Darsney. “It’s certainly plausible that this was Korphe.” Darsney also disputed Krakauer’s claim that Mortenson had never climbed in the Himalayas prior to their attempt on K2.
Today, however, Outside has learned that Mortenson’s revised Korphe account has serious problems. Even if Mortenson had got lost between Korofong and Askole, Outside now believes it would have been nearly impossible to end up in Korphe. What’s more, we’ve found a troubling lack of documentation regarding Mortenson’s climbing record in Nepal.