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  Everest 2007:  Before David Sharp there was Fran...


Most of the below report was written in 1998 and 1999, but based on some new reports it seems like we should re-publish it. We attempted to clean it up just a little. It is a complex story of love, death and mystery...

They were called Romeo and Juliet of the Cold War. In 1998 they both summited and died on Everest. To give us an insight into what happened on Everest Spring 98, let’s first look at who these climbers were.…

You know her as Fran….

Francys Yarbro Distefano-Arsentiev was born Francys Yarbro on January 18th 1958 in Honolulu Hawaii to John Yarbro and his wife Marina Garrett. At six her father took her to the Colorado Mountains. She was forever hooked.

Growing up she attended school at TASIS, The American School in Switzerland as well as school in the US. Fran attended Stephens College before graduating from the University of Louisville. She then received a Master’s degree from the International School of Business Management in Phoenix. Fran found a way to return to Colorado in the mid 80’s and became a business accountant in Telluride, Colorado.

Her father was from Columbia. Her mother, we are told, now lives in Lexington KY. Fran had a son, Paul of Telluride Colorado. Paul now lives with his father in Telluride.

In 1992 she married Sergi (Serguei) Arsentiev.

Fran climbed many of the Russian peaks including the first ascent of Peak 5800m (with Sergi, they named it Peak Goodwill) as well as Denali via the West Buttress. Fran became the first US woman to ski down Elbrus. She reached the top of both the east and west summits of Elbrus.

Her mountaineering record continued to grow....

But she had a dream, to become the first American woman to Summit Everest without the use of supplemental oxygen. A goal which some thought impossible....

Her death was listed as May 23 in the obituaries in the US, stories in the local papers, and many other places. Suppose they know now she really died on May 24th ???

That is one of the many questions: "Why would the world not know when the first American woman to Summit Everest without the use of supplemental oxygen died?" This question will be answered ….

You know him as Sergi …. Serguei Anatolievich Arsentiev was born 1958 and was a native of St. Petersburg. He along with Fran would become the first husband and wife team to Summit Everest without the use of supplemental oxygen.

But who was Sergi? The Russians knew him well, but the world knew little. We asked Robert Link, American climber, who reached the Summit of Everest with Sergi on the 1990 Everest Peace Expedition. How good was Sergi? Robert, replied, "The Question is, Was he the best!". With question we paused. You mean in the likes of Messner? Recalling that Robert Link is a partner with Ed Viesturs. Robert replied, "Yes." We discussed Sergi at length with Robert. He recalled the Peace climb where Sergi was chosen to go to Everest to represent Russian over such climbers as Anatoli Boukreev. Where Sergi, along with Robert Link, was chosen for the first team to attempt the summit from the Peace Expedition, an indication of his strength and greatness. Robert told us of Sergi's great strength and endurance while summiting Everest without oxygen. Others had told us that Sergi was to use oxygen that day, and that some climbers were critical that Sergi was not doing so. Clearly, Robert Link was not critical of Sergi actions. Robert was clearly proud to have climbed with Sergi. In Robert Link's mind, the only Question was, Was he (Sergi) the best?

We discussed with Robert the issue of little press for many of the eastern European truly great climbers, and what a shame that was. The fact is that America was not aware of many of these climbers.

EverestNews.com then reviewed Sergi's history: We found a climber and a man. Sergi was an intellectual, a man of great intelligence, a man who was an electrical engineer who assisted in manufacturing spy satellites in Russia. No, this was not an ordinary man, nor an ordinary climber on Everest.

Sergi earned the Snow Leopard name for climbing the 5 highest mountains in what was then known as the USSR. Sergi summited all three tops on Kangchenjunga in a traverse, an achievement few men on this planet could accomplish, one that most experienced H.A. climbers would not even consider. Sergi was on the elite Russian climbs to Kangchenjunga, Everest and Annapurna. In 1991 he made quick work of Annapurna I, ascending the north face to the Summit in alpine style and of course without the use of supplemental oxygen. However, on Annapurna something happened that forever changed his life. He met a beautiful American woman. Sergi's first wife had been killed in an automobile accident. Fran and Sergi were clearly in love from the start. In 1992, Fran and Sergi were married and after their climb of Elbrus, where Fran skied down from the Summit. They soon moved to American. The love was strong. They earned the nickname of "Romeo and Juliet of the Cold War."

EverestNews.com found a climber who made the first winter ascent of Peak Korzhenevkaya (7105m), peak Lenin (7134m). Sergi received the National Friendship Medal from President Gorbachev for Summiting Everest and was a national hero in his homeland. The greatest of these achievements were not known to the western world.

However, Sergi’s new wife had a dream, to become the first American woman to Summit Everest without the use of supplemental oxygen. This dream was not hidden. If Fran could become the first American woman to Summit Everest without the use of supplemental oxygen, she would be famous.

In the Spring on 1998, hundreds of climbers arrived at Everest BC on the Tibet side. Many climbers commented that they had never seen so many climbers on Everest before, or anywhere at one time before. The 1998 Everest season would turn out to be a very successful year on Everest for most climbers. But as usual some climbers would lose their lives. On Everest the question is never IF, but who and how many, on Everest.

In Base Camp, it was clear that Fran would attempt to become the first American woman to summit Everest without the use of supplemental oxygen. "Romeo and Juliet" were very popular with the other climbers as they could speak several languages.

To cut to the chase...

On May 17th, 1998 Sergi & Fran ascended from ABC to the North Col. On May 18th, they ascended to 7,700 meters as 21 other climbers (see below) reached the summit of Everest from the North.

On May 19, Sergi and Fran climbed to 8200 meters (Camp 6). Sergi reported by radio that they were in good shape and were going to start their summit attempt on May 20th at 1:00am. On May 19th numerous other climbers reached the Summit of Everest from the North Side. The bell was being rung. The weather was great (for Everest)...

On May 20th, after spending the night at 8200 meters (Camp 6), Sergi and Fran started their summit attempt but turned around at the first step when their headlamps failed. On May 21st, Sergi and Fran again stayed at Camp 6, after ascending only 50-100 meters before turning around.

On May 22nd, Sergi and Fran went again for the summit. Fran attempting to become the first American woman to Summit Everest without the use of supplemental oxygen. She would become for a few days the only woman still alive to have summited Everest without oxygen…

The weather was still good (for Everest)...

  • In hindsight, one can question the length of time they spent at Camp 6. EverestNews.com asked ... What we found, were that others had spent longer time at Camp 6 before, but time spend that high on Everest is never good, never recommended. Sadly, they would pay the price...
  • Next Summit day, and then confusion reigns...

Summit Day: May 22, 1998

Sergi and Fran started early for the Summit, estimated to be around 2-3 AM. Anatoli Shabanov, the leader of the Uzbekistan expedition, reported he watched them with a 60-fold telescope from the base camp. At 10:00 radio communication he told Moshnikov that he saw two person in the area of the First Step. He saw them at 14:00 right upon the Second Step (about 8,750 m). Rustam Radgapov (the member of the Uzbekistan expedition, who started his attempt at 8:00) passed them on the steep snow slope under the summit ridge (8,750 - 8,800 m) at about 15:30 - 16:00.  The pace of Fran's movement without oxygen was slower. Radgapov reported he was on the top at 16:45. About 17:45 during the descent from the top Radgapov met Sergi and Frances on the gentle slope near the rocks just 100 m from the top. .

Radgapov said he went together with them for about 50m back in direction of the top, trying to persuade them to turn back because it is quite late and they could not to come back before the darkness. Sergi told him that it was not necessary to be worried because they felt good and had a cache below (between the First and Second Steps) including one bottle of oxygen, the tent and some warm clothing. Radgapov on the descent saw the cache at about 8,630 m. It was an almost empty sack save the bottle of oxygen. Later the extra tent was found at 7,700 m that means there was no tent in the cache at the time Radgapov saw the cash. Radgapov descended to 8,200 m at 20:30. Pictures would later show up that would prove their summit.

The following climbers reached the Summit on May 22, 1998: Rustam Radgapov (40) Uzbekistan Expedition, Sergei Arsentiev (39) Russian/USA Russian Expedition, Francis Arsentiev-Distefano (40) USA Russian Expedition, Kazumi Kondo (56) Japan JWAF and Dawa Sherpa Nepal JWAF.

To put Fran's summit in history, let's look at the facts:

Fran became only the 8th woman to Summit the North Side of Everest.

Fran became the first woman from the United States to Summit the North Side of Everest.

Fran reached the Summit without the use of supplemental oxygen.

Fran became the first woman from America to summit without the use of supplemental oxygen.

Both of the other two women to have done so were dead. Therefore, she became the only woman still alive to have summited Everest without oxygen…

  • The reports that confused everyone... (reports that  turned out to be somewhat false)

May 24, 1998

Information based on Anatoli Shabanov's report from base camp on 24/05/98:

21/05/98 the member of Uzbekistan expedition Rustam Radgapov climbed up from 6,400 to 8,200 meters in a day.

22/05/98 Radgapov summited the top of Everest. Later in a day at about 13:30 two Czechs climbed a top also.

Sergei Arsentiev and Frensis Distefano, spent three nights at 8,200 m, started the climb and summited at 18:15. They summits without supplemental oxygen. Thus Fran became the first American woman to do so, and only the second verifiable female ascent without oxygen.

23/05/98 the members of Uzbekistan expedition Oleg Grigoriev, Andrei Fedorov, Sergei Sokolov, Svetlana Baskakova (female) and Marat Usaev started from 8,200 m for the summit attempt. Just came from the tents they met coming down Arsentiev who exams them did they see Fran. They gave him the tea and he went to the tents, the guys continue the ascent. Apparently Arsentiev and his wife spent the night on Everest without tents.

After climb the Step I climbers found Fran lying without movement but still alive. They decided that Sokolov, Baskakova and Usaev will continue the attempt. Grigoriev and Fedorov stayed with Fran for help. After medical consultation with base camp doctor they gave her oxygen with maximum expenditure (totally they spent three bottles) and carried out all the another medical prescriptions. Later some South African climbers and 3 or 4 Sherpas climbed to them. Together they could transport her down 100 m, but in spite of the rendering aid Frensis dead at about 11:00.

When Arsentiev heard on radio what happens to Fran, he took the oxygen and went upstairs to them. On descent Uzbekistanian climbers did not met Arsentiev. They just found his ice axe and rope. Till that moment (evening May 24th) he still did not came t o 8,200-m camp and nobody knows where he is.

Sokolov, Baskakova and Usaev summited the top of Everest.

24/05/98 the members of Uzbekistan expedition Tukhvatullin Ilias, Zaikin Andrei and Dokukin Alexei made the ascent to the top.

The members of Uzbekistan expedition Balmagametov Khanif + 1 person (unknown name - the poor audibility) ascended to 8,200 m plan the summit attempt on 25/05/98. They found lost 5 bottles of oxygen and now trying to make up for the loss.

All the members of Russian expeditions left the base camp except Moshnikov and Slepikovsky awaiting at ABC (6,400 m) for any news about Arsentiev.

The members of Uzbekistan expedition are going to leave ABC on May 27th by yaks and to leave base camp to Kathmandu on May 28th by Jeeps.

Some details on Kulbachenko ascent. He climbed the summit tower on the right side by rocks while four another Russians ascended and descended on the left side by snow-and-ice couloir. He had been on the top at 16:35. There are some photos he made on the top. (Information received from Shataev who met Kulbachenko in Moscow airport on May 24th). By the way Kulbachenko became the first climber from Belorussia to be climb Mt. Everest.

Second report: May 27, 1998

Information based on Anatoli Shabanov's report from base camp on 27/05/98:

No results in searching Arsentiev. It is supposed that he is dead. 26/05/98. It is confirmed that 3 Sherpas from South African team and 3 Chinese summited.

27/05/98 3 Americans reached the top and also Grigoriev and Fedorov from the Uzbek team, which had to stop their ascent on 23/05/98 to help Frencis Destifano-Arsentiev. Balmagambekov Hanif and Maz Roman, summited on 24/05/98 are now in ABC at 6 400 m. They have some problems with eye burns.

Confusion continues...

Eric Simonson filed this report

" Had a good conversation with Dave Hahn this morning (leader of my North side trip this past spring).  He made the following points/notes: Dave spoke to Ian and Kathy at the site of "high 5" on the afternoon of the 24th.  I and K were on their way down from their aborted summit attempt.  Dave related how Ian was weeping as he told the story of that very morning.  There was no question in Dave's mind that they were shattered by the experience and that they had "given up" their summit bid.  Dave had no reason to think that the story they told him was anything other than the truth.

Ian reported to Dave: I and K and their Sherpas had been climbing up near the first step, when he looked down and saw Fran's body.  He said he thought she was dead, until Fran raised an arm and tried to wave.  At that time they descended to Fran (maybe these are the mysterious footprints). Ian said that he and K and the SA Sherpas, and the Usbeks, worked for 2 full hours to drag Fran back up to below the 1st step. At that point the Uzbeks said they were going on.  The SA Sherpas asked if they could go on too. Ian gave them permission to continue.  Ian and Kathy stayed with Fran for a while, but realized they could do nothing.  Ian said that Fran was mumbling "don't let me die"  over and over.  Not very coherent.  Said her face, limbs, etc, were all frozen at this point.

Ian said they decided they couldn't do anything further, stayed with her for a while, then decided to go down.

Dave said Kathy had lots of video cameras, etc, with her and was doing a lot of shooting.

Dave said that there is no question about the fact that the Uzbeks  summitted on the 27th (except for Sloezen, Alpert, and their Sherpa). [Meaning the Uzbeks did NOT summit on the 27th, only Sloezen, Alpert, and their Sherpa summited on the 27th from the north] " Eric Simonson

This information was learned by EverestNews.com on August 29th, 1998. Several months after the death of Fran and Sergi... EverestNews.com interviewed Heather MacDonald, and Dave Hahn was interviewed by our writer. Both confirmed the above story was what was told to them...

  • The Uzbeks reports were sent to the Russian web site Risk, along with numerous others web sites, wire services, and news source across the world which repeated part of these stories. These stories were also told to the climbers on the mountain. But others knew this was not what have happened. EverestNews.com soon after learning these reports were not correct published information telling our readers there was problems with these reports. The real problem was: What did happen ?
  • Sadly, these reports however were repeated over and over, and still are stated on chat sites and by some climbers that were not there as what they believe happened...
  • The May 27 report that Grigoriev and Fedorov summited on May 27th basically "spilled the beans", in that they were not close to the top on the 27th.
  • The Uzeths would soon change their story. EverestNews.com would remove Grigoriev and Fedorov summits for several weeks in protest. We asked for proof ! The Russians were quick to smell that something was wrong, more quickly than we were...

After the initial reports the Uzbekistan expedition changed their story to a story more consistent with the evidence. But how does anyone know what really happened?

Next, a break. In December of 1998, the Sherpas climbers talk... When will the Sherpas say Fran was moved ?

Things become clearer ...

The big question for EverestNews.com became: When was Fran assisted down the mountain, by whom, and at what time. Or was she assisted at all ?

There were the initial reports.

Then there was what the Americans were told.

Then the Uzbekistan revised story.

In simple terms did someone try to help Fran down on the 23rd or on the 24th as others had reported ??? EverestNews.com attempted to contact the Sherpa climbers and the one Tibetan climber who were making summit attempts on those days to see what they knew.

Finally in December 1998, this reply was received:  

"I now have finally spoken with our Sherpas who were with the South Africans. Regarding the death of Fran, the Sherpas tell me that she was moved on 23rd (not 24th as was initially reported).  According to the Sherpas, she was not moved at all on 24th while our Sherpas were there. I hope this information is of help to you. " Thanks. Sincerely, Ang Tshering Sherpa Managing Director Asian-Trekking

  • The Sherpas statement to Mr. Ang Tshering Sherpa, for whom they worked, supported the revised Uzbekistan revised story to be show below.
  • As you can see, this is complex...

One of these Sherpas has now become somewhat famous, Lakpa Gelu Sherpa, who set the speed record on Everest and is now with Apa as the Super Sherpa expedition on Everest in 2007. We discussed with Lakpa Gelu in 2006, 8 years after Fran died,  the events of 1998. Yes he still recalled Fran. He said they did not move her...

Below is what is believed to have happened on May 22 & 23, 1998. We should add that the below is based largely on statements of the what the Uzbekistan climbers said to the staff of Risk and some information obtained by the staff of EverestNews.com. Neither the staff of Risk nor EverestNews.com were on the mountain on these days therefore we can only take the information given by the climbers and compare the information to the evidence. The statements of the Sherpas who do not speak the same language as the Uzbekistan climbers are considered strong evidence by the Staff.

This is what the staff of EverestNews.com believes based on that work…

On May 22nd 1998 Fran became only the 8th woman to Summit the North Side of Everest.

Fran became the first woman from the United States to Summit the North Side of Everest.  Fran reached the Summit without the use of supplemental oxygen. Fran became the first woman from America to summit without the use of supplemental oxygen.

Both of the other two women to have reached the Summit of Everest without the use of supplemental oxygen in the past were dead. Therefore, she became the only woman still alive to have summited Everest without oxygen…

Fran stood on the top of the world as a great woman climber. She stood with her husband, Sergi. Fran had made history on a low profile expedition. However, if she could get down she would soon become famous.

Fran was "late" in getting to the top, but it is common for a climber who attempts Everest from the North without the use of supplemental oxygen to arrive at the Summit "late".

Radgapov tells that Sergi told him that it was not necessary to be worried because they felt good and had a cache below (between the First and Second Steps) including one bottle of oxygen, a tent and some warm clothing. Radgapov on the descent saw the cache that Sergi described at about 8,630 m; The cache described by Radgapov, was an almost empty sack with a bottle of oxygen (no tent). The extra tent was later found lower on the mountain.

Therefore, it appears from the evidence that Sergi and Fran spent the night on Everest without a tent. It is believed they descended to their cash at 8,630 meters as planned.

May 23rd 1998

Five members of the Uzbekistan expedition, Oleg Grigoriev, Andrei Fedorov, Sergei Sokolov, Svetlana Baskakova and Marat Usaev, started from 8,200 meters for their summit attempt at 6:00. The climbers were carrying 10 bottles of oxygen with them. At about 9:35 on 8,450 m they met Sergi who asked them: "Where is my wife? Did not she came down?" They answered negative.

Sergi then descended to the Camp 6. Sergi was alive and safe. The climbers continued their ascent of the mountain.

At 10:40 after the First Step (about 100 meters from the 8,630 meters bivouac) the Uzbekistan climbers came to Fran. She was leaning on to a rock, in half-conscious condition (but standing). There was no harness on her.

The climbers state they consulted doctors about Fran condition. The details of these discussions are confusing and not confirmed, but the climbers say they gave her some a few tablets of trental and oxygen with 4 liters per minute (Fedorov gave her his mask), but she tore the mask off, mumbling something. Fran feet, we are told are beginning to freeze as would be expected after spending the night out on Everest without a tent.

The climbers sat her down, and attempted to massage of the legs and hands. At 11:40 Grigoriev decided that Sokolov, Baskakova and Usaev would continue the attempt. Grigoriev and Fedorov stayed with Fran. At 13:00 Fedorov also continued his attempt. He came without oxygen (he left his mask and oxygen for Fran). Grigoriev then left for the summit at 13:30 (with oxygen). Before going away he fixed Frances to the rope and fixed the oxygen mask. After 100 m at 8,630 meters he found the place of Sergi cash, where he found an empty sack, an empty oxygen bottle, a mask with reducer, a headlamp and a flask. He took the mask with reducer for Fedorov. Before the Second Step he found the harness of Fran.

After the Second Step, Grigoriev passed Fedorov, gave him his half-used oxygen bottle and the mask with reducer he found on 8,630 m. When he met the three descending climbers, he gave Usaev will give his half-used bottle to Fedorov. All three climbers are already using their second oxygen bottle.

Sokolov, Baskakova and Usaev were on the top at 14:30. On descent under the top ridge Usaev gave his oxygen to ascending Fedorov. Baskakova was the first who returned to Frances at 15:50, she connected her the bottle with the rest of the oxygen. Sokolov, Baskakova and Usaev stayed with Fran till the Grigoriev's return. Grigoriev was on the top at 16:00. At 16:10 on descent he met Fedorov whom summited at 16:30.

Grigoriev sent Sokolov and Usaev down. (Usaev after he gave his oxygen to Fedorov who felt unwell.) They descended to the tents on 8,200 m and Sokolov. They told Sergi what was going on with Fran. By all accounts, Sergi immediately started climbing up without oxygen but they persuaded him to return and he took 1 bottle of oxygen, tea and medicines with him.

At 18:20 Grigoriev with a help of Baskakova they started to lower Fran from the First Step, after they had helped put her with the found harness on her. The descent had been done with carabiner and UIAA knot, plus PETZL ascender. Baskakova drew off the feet of Fran in order that they not get caught on the rock. They got her vertically down with two connected ropes (about 80 m) and pulled her 15 m traverse to the path under the small rock. That time Fedorov descended to them, his oxygen was over on 8,750 m and he felt unwell. The climbers then state that Fran started into convulsion. Grigoriev sent Sokolova down. Then at 20:15 he fixed Fran to the rope where she would die, connected her the last bottle of oxygen, set her gloves, hat and cowl straight and came down himself.

At 20:00 Grigoriev said by radio that he saw Sergi ascending. On descent at 20:40 Grigoriev met Sergi. Sergi asked, "Is Fran here?" he answered: "She is still alive". Grigoriev came down to 8,200 m at 21:15.

Sergi never returned to Camp 6. Five Uzbekistan climbers had summited Everest on that day.

May 24th 1998

Fran is still alive. Somehow she has lived for two nights out on Everest above 8,000 meters without a tent.

Four members of Uzbekistan expedition, Tukhvatullin Ilias, Zaikin Andrei and Dokukin Alexei, leave Camp 6 (8,200 m) at 4:55. At 7:50 Tukhvatullin was the first climber who came to Fran, then the two South African climbers, the Sherpas from South African expedition (this included Lakpa Gelu Sherpa), followed by the rest of the Uzbekistan team.

Fran was still alive. All the time she repeats: "Help, help!"

Her hands were out of sleeves inside of the goose jacket, without gloves, her hat was off. Fran was fixed to the end of the rope as she had been left the day before.

At the distance of 50-60 m from her, climbers saw the ice axe and the rope of Sergi.

The Uzbekistan climbers stated to Risk that, the mountaineers from South Africa gave Frances the tea. They checked her legs and made the massage, and certain that she could not go herself. Tukhvatullin offered to give the injection of adrenaline and even warmed the ampoule, but South Africans declined. Then the South Africans went down. According to the Uzbekistans, the South Africans did not say any words to the Uzbekistan climbers and returned to camp 6.

The climbers from the Uzbekistan expedition continued their summit attempt. After 20-30 minutes three Sherpas overtook the Uzbekistan climbers. Until the top ridge the Sherpas climbed up together with Tukhvatullin. Then Tukhvatullin stopped to wait dropped behind for  Zaikin and Dokukin. At that time the Sherpas went ahead and were on the top at 12:30, then Tukhvatullin at 13:20, Zaikin and Dokukin at 13:50. They started the descent at 14:00.

When the climbers passed Fran on the way back from the Summit at 18:00, Sergi’s ice axe was not seen.

The birds were on Fran's body.

Sergi: His attempt.

On May 22nd Sergi reached the Summit of Everest with his wife Fran. Based on Sergi’s statements to Radgapov, Sergi felt good and said he had a cache below between the First and Second Steps including one bottle of oxygen, a tent and some warm clothing.

One of the mysteries is why the tent was not in the cash when Fran and Sergi descended from the Summit. Clearly, Sergi was planning on the tent being there, with the assumption that if they needed to stay above Camp 6 they would have a tent to sleep in. Instead they had to bivouac in the open. Why the tent was not where Sergi said it was, will probably remain a mystery forever.

We know Sergi met the five members of the Uzbekistan expedition, Oleg Grigoriev, Andrei Fedorov, Sergei Sokolov, Svetlana Baskakova and Marat Usaev, at about 9:35 on May 23rd at approx. 8,450 m. Sergi asked them: "Where is my wife? Did not she came down?" They answered negative.

Sergi then descended to the Camp 6. Sergi was alive and safe. The climbers continued their ascent of the mountain.

By all accounts when Sergi heard that Fran was still alive, Sergi immediately started climbing up without oxygen but other climbers persuaded him to return and he took one bottle of oxygen, tea and medicines with him. Grigoriev states that when he met Sergi. Sergi asked," Is Fran here?" he answered "She is still alive".

We know Sergi reached Fran once again because his ice axe and rope were found approx. 50 meters from Fran. So with some pleasure it is known that Fran and Sergi got to spend some more time together.

On May 24th 1998, the members of Uzbekistan expedition, state that at a distance of 50-60 meters from Fran, climbers saw the ice axe and the rope of Sergi.

When they descended from the Summit the ice axe was missing. Another mystery is was the ice axe missing because someone took it or did Sergi had it ?

What EverestNews.com believes is:

Sergi was a very smart man. He was an experienced climber. Sergi knew no one was going to save his wife when he left camp 6 to attempt to save her. It is unclear if Sergi had overheard radio calls from other climbers on these days. We know a radio was in the Camp with him. Climbers have told EverestNews.com that some wanted to go. The weather was fine, there was no snowstorm. Fran did not die because of a storm like many on Everest. Fran died because she could not make it down. She froze to death on Everest. For example, one climber was reported to have said, "For God’s sake it is an American" to which his expedition leader replied, "it is none of our business"...

Sergi it seems had to know, that the only chance to save Fran was by himself. What EverestNews.com believes is that Sergi reached Fran and sometime between that night and the time that the climbers on the 23rd reached Fran, Sergi was trying climb down the area below the first step, basically straight down to the yellow band. We believe this because climbers on the 25th told EverestNews.com they saw one set of footprints going down in their area below where Sergi rope was.

Therefore, Sergi must have faced the thought on how can I get my Fran down. The only other way would have been to somehow move her down this slope to the yellow band and then pull her from the yellow band to Camp 6. This is considered a reasonable thought from those climbers we discussed this with. Not saying it is possible, but probably his only option by himself.

A body, believed to be Sergi’s was seen by at least two climbers in Spring Everest 99. The location of the body is actually in the area below where the Americans were looking for Irvine. The pain that Sergi must have felt, knowing that his wife was freezing to death on Everest must have been horrible, knowing that he had helped Fran live her dream, only for her to die for her dream.

Sergi will always be a hero in our hearts for attempting to do everything he could to save his dear wife… He could have stayed in Camp 6. He went back to get his Fran...

What is also interesting is: Was Sergi still alive on the 24th? Was Sergi’s ice axe gone because he had the ice axe? Most believe someone must have took it, that Sergi could not have survived a second night "out" on Everest. But we know Fran did! If Sergi survived the Second night then maybe he spent the night with his wife and climbed down on May 24th which would explain why the climbers on the 24th does not mention the one set of footprints but the climbers on the 25th do. Or maybe the climbers on the 24th simply had not seen the footprints. 

Why were reports filed that did not turn out to be true? We will let you judge. But as you can see, before David Sharp there was Fran. Several climbers were rescued after Fran on the North side of Everest, some believe Fran's death in 1998 saved lives after her. Is it very hard to tell....

But in 1998, as in 2006 no one looked good here.

This is a very dangerous sport, as we look to Everest 2007. People will die, the only question is how many and who… Will climbers stop to help those who fail, or will they go on to a summit that has now been summited about 3000 times? Only time will tell..


A cold weather, high altitude double boot for extreme conditions The Olympus Mons is the perfect choice for 8000-meter peaks. This super lightweight double boot has a PE thermal insulating inner boot that is coupled with a thermo-reflective outer boot with an integrated gaiter. We used a super insulating lightweight PE outsole to keep the weight down and the TPU midsole is excellent for crampon compatibility and stability on steep terrain. WEIGHT: 39.86 oz • 1130 g LAST: Olympus Mons CONSTRUCTION: Inner: Slip lasted Outer: Board Lasted OUTER BOOT: Cordura® upper lined with dual-density PE micro-cellular thermal insulating closed cell foam and thermo-reflective aluminium facing/ Insulated removable footbed/ Vibram® rubber rand See more here.




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