Weird History

The Tragic Story Of Mount Everest Climber Francys Arsentiev

Mount Everest – and the nearly 30,000-foot trek to its summit – is a global paragon of adventure, an ambition that reflects humanity's hunger for Earth's most impressive wonders. People around the world make a lifetime pursuit out of scaling the infamous mountain, and over 4,000 of those have achieved the ultimate dream of reaching its peak. Some climbers, however, were not so fortunate. Over 200 bodies of those who couldn't complete the climb remain on the mountain, left out of necessity due to the hazardous conditions that prevent rescue teams from retrieving their remains.

One of the most well-known of these unfortunate hikers is Francys Arsentiev, popularly known by her posthumous title, "Sleeping Beauty." In May of 1998, the 40-year-old, American-born hiker was encouraged by her son, Paul Distefano, to scale the mountain. Eager to be the first American woman to reach the peak without a supplemental oxygen bag, Arsentiev made her trek alongside her husband, famous mountaineer Sergei Arsentiev. Tragically, while Francys and her husband did reach Everest's summit, they never descended – both succumbed to frostbite on their trek down the mountain.