Francys Arsentiev is also known as Mt. Everest sleeping beauty. She is one of the climbers who perished on Mt. Everest during the time of ascent in the year 1998. Despite the fact that no sleeping beauty pictures are available, sleeping beauty Everest is one of the most popular figures who died on Everest. Of course, Francys Arsentiev gained this popularity posthumously.
On May 22, 1998, Francys Arsentiev became the first American woman to reach the summit of Everest without the help of supplemental oxygen. She had embarked on the expedition along with her husband Sergei Arsentiev. Back in the US, when the idea of climbing Everest crossed her mind, she was reluctant to do it. However, her son was very much positive that she would be able to achieve this feat. He motivated and convinced her to give this challenging idea of climbing the peak without bottled oxygen a try. And of course, if she’s able to do it, she’ll make history, if not in the world, then at least in the US. Joining her in this venture was her husband. The couple had climbed numerous Russian peaks before this, together. As a matter of fact, Francys Arsentiev was the first American woman to ski down Mount Elbrus.
Everything was fine until they reached Camp 6 at 8200 m. The weather got terrible, which forced them to spend almost 3 nights above 8000 m. They would try to reach the top every day, but failed because of the weather. Finally, they decided to go down and return to the main base camp. Francys Arsentiev took one way, whereas her husband took a different one. After reaching the camp nearest to their location, Sergei realized that Francys Arsentiev hadn’t returned, so he went back with oxygen and medicines to help his wife, realizing that she must have been stuck somewhere. All this happened on May 22. The following morning, i.e. on May 23, a team from Uzbekistan found her on the peak. Due to lack of oxygen she was almost unconscious, and her body was badly frostbitten. She was not even able to move.
The team had to attend to her with oxygen, and carry her. They took her body down, as far as they could, and left her, as it was getting too tiring for them, and they were running out of oxygen. All this occured on May 23. On May 24, several climbers from Britain, Switzerland and Uzbekistan spotted her on the same spot she was left a day ago. Her husband’s ice axe was rope was beside her. So, turns out, he was able to find her, but couldn’t help her much. Ian Woodall and Cathy O’Dowd tried to help her for over an hour, putting their own Everest Expedition mission at risk. But her condition was so bad that it didn’t seem that she would make it. Also, the location and weather forced both of them to return to the camp, and leaving her as it is to die. These were the circumstances that caused the death of Francys Arsentiev.
Almost a year later, her husband’s body was found. It seemed as if he fell to his death in terms of saving his wife. Now, the reason why Francys Arsentiev is called Sleeping Beauty is based on her physical description as made by Woodall and O’Dowd. The frostbite and the weather had made the skin on her face so white and waxy, and despite the fact, she looked so beautiful. She wasn’t completely unconscious, so it felt as if she was about to fall into a deep sleep. That’s where the phrase, Francys Arsentiev sleeping beauty comes from. She could speak a little, so, when the two mountaineers were about to leave her, she pleaded to them to save her. But since they were running out of options, they had to take this cruel step, else their life would have also been at risk. The climbers later explained this entire experience to be troubling, and moreover, haunting for them. Seeing her fair face begging, as they had to let her go was devastating.
Now, though it is documented that medical conditions like Hypothermia, Cerebral Edema, Frostbite, and so many others caused Francys Arsentiev sleeping beauty to succumb to her death. But it is to be noticed that her death wasn’t instant, it was more like a process, or chain reaction, that started with her spending several nights above 8000 m, without the necessary amount of oxygen. When your body lacks oxygen, you tend to get tired, and you’re not able to think clearly. This causes you to act slow and make mistakes on the mountain. And we all know how deadly a simple mistake can prove to be on Everest.
This is probably how everything started in case of Francys Arsentiev. Climbing Everest without Oxygen is possible, and that is why so many people have been able to do it. But a mountaineer needs to understand his/ her physical capabilities, and they should be able to open up their minds to the uncertainties that could occur on the peak. Francys Arsentiev was resilient, which caused her to spend 3 nights at that altitude without oxygen. Probably, this was her not thinking straight. Because if she was, she would have decided to drop down, or use supplemental oxygen to help herself recover.from the tiredness.
Now, there is a section on Mount Everest called Everest Graveyard. It is also known as Mount Everest Rainbow Valley. The reason why it’s called Everest Graveyard is because the area is full of bodies of climbers who succumbed to their deaths, either in terms of climbing the peak or in terms of descending. The reason why it’s called Rainbow Valley is because those bodies are covered in colorful jackets that the climbers wore during their expedition. The entire area looks like a part of a rainbow from a far off distance. Everest Graveyard lies at an altitude above 8000 m. This part of the mountain is known as Everest Death Zone, as maximum deaths that happen on the mountain happens on this section. Needless to say, this is the deadliest part of the mountain for any climber to cross, whether he’s a novice or an expert. Even when it comes to Francys Arsentiev, things started getting worse after she crossed 8000 m. What played a pivotal role in her death is her stay in that region for so many days. If she had gotten stuck at a lower elevation, her chances of survival would have been higher. Everest Graveyard and Everest Death Zone altogether pose a threat to every climber ascending the peak.
Everest Expedition is associated with so many different feelings – pride, joy, enthusiasm, hardship, pain, achievement, resilience, and so on. A climber experiences all of them throughout the journey, from the bottom of the peak till the time he reaches the top. It’s every climber’s dream to one day reach the top of the peak. It is for a reason that so many people embark on Everest Expedition journey every year. In the May of 2019, there was a traffic jam on the peak of Everest. During the jam, around 200 climbers lined up to reach the top of the peak and have their moment. The traffic jam lasted for a duration of a couple of days. It was the first time in history that something like this happened, probably due to the high number of climbers.
Altogether, Everest Climb is a 65 days long journey, and during this time, the core climbing occurs for a duration of around 45 days. The climbers spend a major part of their journey trekking from Lukla to Everest Base Camp before the ascent, and the same way back after the descent. The rest of the time is spent acclimatizing on the trekking route, travelling from Kathmandu to Lukla, or sightseeing around Kathmandu Valley.
Mt. Everest sleeping beauty gives us this lesson that resilience is necessary when it comes to scaling a mountain. But you need to be careful about taking your next step when you’re on such a high altitude. What happened to Francys Arsentiev was tragic, and it is for the same reason that her legend will always be in the history books.
Earthbound Expeditions is one of the most reliable, experienced and affordable travel and tour operators in Nepal. Their itineraries feature exciting tourist destinations in places like Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. What makes their services stand apart from that of others is that it focuses on client satisfaction. They specialize in trekking and expedition, but if you don’t like challenges, you could also go for luxury tours. They even allow their clients to make changes to the itinerary so that the journeys are personal and close to their heart. If you’re looking to travel to any of these places during your upcoming holidays, make sure to contact Earthbound Expeditions. With them by your side, your journey is going to be unforgettable.