The Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan has released a statement saying
Uzbekistan plans to return to Everest in Spring 2005. Uzbekistan's first
expedition was in 1998, when 11 members including one woman summited over a 3
day period. However, the expedition's summits were overshadowed by the death
of Fran Arsentiev, the American wife of the great Russian climber Sergi
Fran and her husband Sergi summited
Everest late in the day, without bottled oxygen. That made her the first
American woman to summit Everest without bottled oxygen: no other American
woman has to date. They planned to bivouac on the way down. However, when they
reached their bivouac site, they found their supplies had disappeared. Fran &
Sergi spent the night high on Everest without a tent. They survived the night,
but became separated.
As the story goes, the Uzbekistan
climbers found Fran. They gave her some assistance, and then went on to the
summit. Sergi had climbed down to high camp. When he arrived at high camp he
asked about Fran, assuming she was ahead of him. He learned there that his
wife was alive but still high on the mountain. He immediately went back up to
find her. We believe Sergi reached Fran, but fell looking for a way to get her
down the mountain. His body was found in 1999, on a direct fall line, but
much higher, with George Mallory according to
Conrad Anker in 1999. However,
Sergi's body was a mess of broken bones.
The Uzbekistan climbers had never been on
Everest before. They were not prepared to make a high rescue. Some of the
Uzbekistan climbers did manage to help Fran get below the first step.
Fran survived the next night in another
bivouac. More climbers found her. Some gave her assistance and then went on to
the summit. A few turned around and headed back down the mountain. Fran was
left at the base of the first step. When the climbers returned from the summit
that day, the birds were on her body.
Some thought it was impossible for Fran
to survive, or to rescue her. But many knew she was up there dying. Early
reports from the mountain contained incorrect information, reports were later
changed when they were questioned.
Fran's death was perhaps the most horrible death ever to
occur on Everest. While it will never be known if anyone could have helped her
down, some at high camp which others would have tried. Fran asked several
climbers, according to their own reports, to help her. She cried and asked
them not to leave her.
While the versions of the stories vary widely, on who helped
Fran and who did not. We believe Fran's death forever changed Everest climbing
on the North side. No one looked good in this story. No one. Many knew
Fran was up there dying; Many said a person could not be rescued, however, the
pain of Fran's death over a 3 day period marked an event few will talk about,
but that many will have in their memories forever. The woman who refused to
die on Everest.... As one expedition leader said on the radio, "it is none of
our business". While true, and while we are sure it will never be
published, he will need to live with that statement forever.
The whole story of Fran's death has never been published.
It should be pointed out, her husband
Sergi was an elite climber, he knew the risks. Fran was an experienced
climber, she should have known the risks. They made choices. They died doing
what they liked doing....
In 2005, the Uzbek alpinists along with climbers from Italy,
USA, Georgia and Russia will climb Everest according to the Embassy of the
Republic of Uzbekistan. They state, "Dilmurod Tillajodjaev, amateur alpinist
who climbed Everest several times, initiated the project." We can find no
record of Dilmurod Tillajodjaev on Everest, but maybe he went to base camp or
his record is incomplete... If you know please let us know... We hope the
Uzbekistans climbers have some boring
summits of Everest this time.
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