After summiting Everest, it’s common for climbers to leave behind a memento to a loved one or perhaps a small religious offering. But last week, a team of climbers left something unusual: the equivalent of $50,000 in cryptocurrency.
The drop was part of a publicity stunt for California-based ASKfm, a social network with 215 million global users where people can ask and answer questions. The team of mostly Ukrainians were climbing with Seven Summits Treks outfitters and were invited to take part in the stunt by ASKfm through a mutual friend of the group’s leader, Taras Pozdnii.
Pozdnii told Outside that once he reached the summit, he buried a package containing a single ASKT token, which Byzantium, a cryptocurrency consultancy firm, valued at $50,000. The ploy was part of ASKfm’s new strategy to pay people (with its new cryptocurrency) to ask and answer questions on its site. Pozdnii didn’t say where the package was hidden, but it’s presumably fair game to anyone who reaches the top and has a few minutes to dig around. And with the window to summit likely closing in the next week or so, it might not be until next year that someone claims the money.
Despite successfully reaching the summit on May 14, the team ran into trouble as they descended. Pozdnii says that, out of nowhere, the wind picked up and became so strong that his snow goggles were torn from his face. The temperature decreased dramatically. Upon reaching Camp 4, the team hunkered down for the night. The next day, as the team descended, Pozdnii began to suffer from snow blindness, so they called for helicopter assistance.
By the time the helicopter came, the team had runout of reserve oxygen and Pozdnii had frostbite on his hands and feet. He and another teammate were airlifted to a hospital in Kathmandu, where they’re both recovering. “I have five frozen fingers on my hands and two on my feet,” Pozdnii says. “But not very seriously. Thankfully, every day I’m feeling better.”