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  Mt. Everest 2005: Uzbekistan


Copyright©Everestnews.com

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 Arsentiev.

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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