A Chinese woman has denied accusations that she used a helicopter to advance up the world's highest mountain, according to a senior official of the Nepalese tourism authorities.
Wang Jing, 40, co-founder of the domestic outdoor sportswear manufacturer Toread, was questioned, criticised and mocked by many netizens after she was reportedly investigated by the Nepalese government for allegedly using a helicopter to climb Qomolangma, also known as Mount Everest, from the Nepalese side.
A Reuters report said Nepalese tourism authorities were looking into reports that Wang took a helicopter and flew over the route damaged by an avalanche on April 18 that led to the death of 16 Nepalese guides.
She would have been the only climber to have ascended the mountain on that side since the accident, Reuters reported.
Using a helicopter would constitute a serious moral violation of tradition in climbing the world's highest peak, the report said.
Wang has not responded to the report, and China Daily's phone calls to her secretary went unanswered.
On May 26, Wang said on her micro blog that she managed to climb the mountain from the Nepalese side at about 6:30 pm on May 23 after "experiencing tens of thousands of hardships".
The post, with a photo of Wang and two men on the top of a snowy mountain, drew numerous comments on Thursday, with many netizens criticising her for cheating the public by hiding the fact that she used a helicopter during the climb.
"It only proves that you have purchasing capacity rather than that you are super," said a comment, adding that climbing has become a game for the rich in China, since climbers always hire a large group of people including guides and cooks while climbing high mountains.
Some netizens said that they would not buy any products made by Wang's company if she failed to give an explanation.
A China News Service report quoted Wang's secretary surnamed Cai as saying that Wang climbed Qomolangma in 2010 and 2012, and that she had climbed eight mountains taller than 8,000 meters. The report did not say whether Wang had used helicopters or not.
An official from the Nepalese embassy to China told China Daily on Thursday that if the accusation was confirmed, Wang could face punishment, such as a fine.