The CBS News report questioned, in particular, a central anecdote of the book that was as dramatic as it was inspirational: in 1993, Mr. Mortenson was retreating after failing to reach the summit of K2, the world’s second highest mountain, when, lost and dehydrated, he stumbled across the small village of Korphe in northeast Pakistan. After the villagers there nursed him back to health, he vowed to return and build a school.
The CBS report, broadcast on “60 Minutes” Sunday night and citing sources, said that Mr. Mortenson had actually visited Korphe nearly one year after his K2 attempt. Mr. Mortenson said on Sunday that he did reach Korphe after his climb in 1993, and that he visited again in 1994.
But he added a disclaimer in an interview with The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, saying that while he stood by the information in the book, “the time about our final days on K2 and ongoing journey to Korphe village and Skardu is a compressed version of events that took place in the fall of 1993.”
Viking has maintained near silence since the report trickled out on Friday, saying on Saturday that it relied on its authors “to tell the truth, and they are contractually obligated to do so.”
For the publisher, the situation with Mr. Mortenson was not as clear cut as it was with another of its authors, Margaret Seltzer, who wrote “Love and Consequences,” a memoir discovered to be fraudulent only days after it was published in 2008. Riverhead Books, the unit of Penguin that published “Love and Consequences,” immediately recalled all 19,000 copies, offered refunds to readers who had bought it and canceled Ms. Seltzer’s book tour.