Mount Everest Cryptocurrency Publicity Stunt Goes Awry

Jordana Sacks
  • A publicity stunt organised by Ukrainian social media network ASKfm had a group of ‘crypto enthusiasts’ climb Mount Everest to bury a hard drive worth $50,000.
  • One of the Nepalese Sherpas accompanying the group become separated during the descent and is now presumed dead.

A publicity stunt that had a group scale Mount Everest to bury a hard drive with 1 million tokens of a soon to be launched cryptocurrency at the summit saw a local man go missing, and now being presumed dead.

The venture, which was sponsored by Ukrainian social network ASKfm, encouraged those involved to climb the mountain and deposit $50,000 worth of digital tokens at its peak. Sadly, reports suggest that the trek resulted in the death of a local Nepalese Sherpa who was accompanying the group.

ASKfm planned to raise funds through an initial coin offering (ICO), which means that the tokens buried there have no proven value yet, with the $50,000 figure based on an “estimate of their value once the pre-sale and ICO launch.”

The local man is said to have died after successfully leading the group of four to the top, with Colorado climber Alan Arnette featuring his untimely passing on a blog that covers Everest events under the heading ‘preventable deaths’. According to one of the crypto enthusiasts who made the climb, Taras Pozdnii, they “lost track of the Sherpa after he accompanied them to the summit”.

A promo poster for the stunt, posted earlier in May, had encouraged crypto enthusiasts to go in search of the digital tokens “if [they were] brave enough.” A promotional video the company posted revealed the company was looking to make the token sale “exciting” through its marketing stunt.

In response to what happened, ASKfm revealed it was, as a sponsor, “saddened and horrified by the tragic event.” Speaking to Fox Business, Dash Pay CEO Ryan Taylor noted that the stunt was an “act of stupidity” that doesn’t do the cryptocurrency industry any favors. He said:

“Any company that would put forward a promotion that endangers their customers I think just speaks to the lack of business maturity that is inherent in an industry this young.”

Ryan Taylor

The move, according to Taylor, could discredit some of the industry’s other projects who are doing “amazing things,” and who “work really hard to put forward a professional product.”