According to CNBC, ASKfm, sponsored four “cryptocurrency enthusiasts” to hike Mount Everest. The hikers were asked to place a hard drive that contained $50,000 worth of ASKfm’s digital tokens which currently have no value on top of the mountain. The Mount Everest climb was part of an initial coin offering (ICO) marketing stunt.
As reported by the Financial Times, ASKfm mentioned that:
“Of course, there were issues…two guys were stuck at above 7,000 meters with no reserve oxygen for all of that time. Under extreme temperatures and unable to descend, they had during the second day to call for a helicopter squad to rescue. Now they’re both safe and receiving treatment. And strong have made such as move.”
Unfortunately, Lam Babu Sherpa, a local Nepalese Guide who assisted the ASKfm group, died on the dangerous hike. He had a lot of experience climbing and had reached the top of the mountain many times in the past. The Ministry of Tourism of Nepal stated that the sherpa had experienced snow blindness; when one experiences a temporary loss of vision due to the reflection from the sun’s UV rays from the snow.
Cryptocurrency hike leads to tragic death of a Sherpa
According to ASKfm’s promotional video, the Irish-based startup thought it would be an exciting marketing stint to launch an ICO on top of a high mountain. Unfortunately, the promotional stint led to a Sherpa initially going missing but now presumed to be dead, when the team was at the Everest peak in mid-May.
“At the top of Everest the weather was very bad, and then we were coming down,” said Pozdnii. “We were going down to Camp 4, which is at about 7900m, and one Sherpa was dying. That’s all we know. My Sherpa coming. The last time I saw Dima’s Sherpa was at the top of Everest. He [the Sherpa] was behind us so we don’t know what happened to him. We were going fast, and the Sherpa wasn’t coming with us. He was coming behind so we didn’t see him.”
Dima who Podnzii mentioned earlier is one of the climbers called Dmytro Semerenko. Irina Galay and Roman Gorodichny also joined them. Galay, however, did not climb the mountain for the event. That information was however excluded from ASKfm’s promotional video.
ASKfm provides conflicting information and encourages others to hike the mountain
When ASKfm initially spoke to the Financial Times, they mentioned that four Sherpas accompanied the climbers, one for each climber. However, when the news company spoke to the CEO Max Tsaryk, regarding Lam Babu Sherpa’s death, Tsaryk stated that:
“the team sponsored by ask.fm was assisted on their expedition (which included climbers from other groups and projects), by over 100 Sherpas….a Sherpa who successfully assisted one of our sponsored climbers on a part of their journey, prior to assisting other non-related groups of climbers, later became missing….the condition and location of the missing Sherpa was unknown.”
Unfortunately, there is a lot of contradicting and conflicting information between ASKfm’s statement, the details they initially provided, and the accounts of two of the climbers. It remains unclear when and where the Sherpa disappeared.
The Financial Times reported that despite the loss of life in the process of this marketing stunt, ASKfm is still encouraging climbers to search for the company’s digital tokens that currently have no proven value.