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
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
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
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
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
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
- 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
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
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
22/05/98 Radgapov summited
the top of Everest. Later in a day at about 13:30 two Czechs climbed a top
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
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.
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
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.
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
Then there was what the
Americans were told.
Then the Uzbekistan revised
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
But in 1998, as in 2006 no one looked good
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..
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