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April 18, 2011 – Climber’s Asian Charity Under Fire from Krakauer

Climber-philanthropist Greg Mortenson's best-selling book Three Cups of Tea describes how he became separated from his team on the walk out from a 1993 attempt on K2, was captured by the Taliban and spent time convalescing in the small village of Korphe, Pakistan.

Climber-philanthropist Greg Mortenson’s best-selling book Three Cups of Tea describes how he became separated from his team on the walk out from a 1993 attempt on K2, was captured by the Taliban and spent time convalescing in the small village of  Korphe, Pakistan. On his recovery, he vowed to return and build a school, went back to the States and founded the Central Asia Institute, now an organization that collects more than twenty million dollars a year to support a purported 171 children’s schools in central Asia. Climbing’s most famous author, Jon Krakauer, once said  “I have been blown away by how much of a real difference one guy with a little money has been able to make in that part of the world.”

Now, however, after researching Mortenson’s story, Krakauer has come to the conclusion that it is a “beautiful story, and it’s a lie.”  Research by Krakauer and interviews by CBS have questioned several of the facts in Mortenson’s book, showing that that he only visited Korphe a year after the K2 climb and that the men who he claimed kidnapped him were not members of the Taliban and even let him handle their rifles. The story also questioned financial practices and showed that the schools are often poorly built, unattended, or used for other purposes than school.  “Nobody is overseeing what goes on,” claims Krakauer. Mortenson, he says, “doesn’t know how many schools he’s built. Nobody knows how much these schools cost.”