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Austrian Mountaineer Admits Faking Climb

An Austrian mountain climber says he faked a widely-publicized claim last month to have scaled the world's second highest summit.

Climber Christian Stangl now says he did not reach the Himalayan peak known as K2, and says the picture he used to prove the climb was in fact taken 1,000 meters below the Himalayan peak.

The 44-year-old Stangl was seeking to become the first person to climb the two highest peaks on each continent. After his alleged K2 conquest, he said the only remaining summit on his list was 4,800 meter Mt. Tyree in Antarctica.

The climbing website Explorersweb says it was prepared to refute Stangl's claim this week with evidence that the picture Stangl used was actually taken elsewhere.

However, Stangl first confessed on Austrian state television that he faked the feat in what he described as a trance-like state brought on by fear of failure.

The case against Stangl also included statements from another climber who scaled K2 August 13, one day after the Austrian's purported feat. That climber, Romanian Zsolt Torok, said he saw no telltale footprints that should have been evident after Stangl's purported climb. Torok also told the Austrian daily Oesterreich that he believes Stangl never left base camp during the time of the purported feat.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.