A file photo taken on April 29, 2018, showing mountaineers walking near camp two of Mount Everest, as they prepare to ascend on the south face from Nepal. Photo: AFP/ Phunjo Lama

A promotional stunt by an Irish-Latvian crypto startup to take $100,000 worth of its digital tokens to Everest’s summit has been linked to the death of a Sherpa guide.

Irish-based social networking startup Ask.fm, that bills itself as the “first Q&A social network with its own internal crypto-currency, where users can be rewarded for quality content,” sponsored a group of Ukrainian climbers to take two crypto wallets, both containing Ask’s “Ledger” crypto-currency, to the summit of Mount Everest.

The climbers summited the world’s highest mountain on May 14, guided by two Nepali Sherpas guides. One of the Nepali guides, Lama Babu Sherpa, has not been seen since the group descended from the mountain and is presumed dead, Nepal-based Seven Summit Treks, which organized the logistics for the expedition, told AFP.

“We are now aware that one of the Sherpas who assisted our group amongst others, went missing during the descent,” the company said in a statement.

One of the guide’s crampons and his backpack were found but his body has not been located.

Three of the sponsored climbers reached the summit of the 8,848-meter mountain carrying two smart cards loaded with one million tokens of the company’s yet-to-be released cryptocurrency. The group buried one of the smart cards, with climber Taras Pozdnii saying “you can come and take them if you can” in a video purportedly shot at the summit and posted on Youtube by Ask.fm.

Pozdnii told AFP that the missing guide was not always part of their team, but he had seen him at the summit. “He was behind us when coming back. I don’t know what happened with him,” Pozdnii said by phone. The team was hit by strong winds during their descent, with Pozdnii suffering frostbite on his hands and feet and eventually being airlifted to the capital Kathmandu.

Sherpas regard Everest as a sacred peak and believe that a powerful goddess called Miyolangsangma lives at the mountain’s summit. Reports of climbers – including Sherpas – pulling headline-grabbing stunts on Everest have in the past prompted complaints they were defiling the peak.

More than 400 people have reached Everest’s summit this month during the busy spring climbing season when warmer temperatures and calmer winds typically open the route to the top of the world.

Please contact us with feedback, news or stories: thechain@atimes.com

Asia Times Financial is now live. Linking accurate news, insightful analysis and local knowledge with the ATF China Bond 50 Index, the world's first benchmark cross sector Chinese Bond Indices. Read ATF now.