Monday, April 30, 2007

Everest climber returns to mountain to bury woman he was forced to abandon 9 years ago

She was alone on a mountain shelf when they found her - a frozen, pathetic figure just 800ft below the summit of Everest.

When they eventually reached her she barely had the strength left to speak. But Francys Arsentiev's last words would stay with them for the rest of their lives: "Don't leave me," she begged. "Please don't leave me." In the treacherous terrain of the world's highest mountain, and in temperatures below minus 30C, they had little choice.

The dark-haired young mother still lies in the same, grotesquely distorted position she was in when the other climbers found her, secured by a rope and largely preserved by the sub-zero temperatures. But now - finally - she is about to be afforded some dignity. The British-born climber who had to leave her in May 1998 has gone back to Everest to bury her.

"It's fairly well documented where certain bodies are to be found on Everest
"There's an enormous lack of dignity in her circumstances. It's almost like a road sign on the mountain - when you get to Fran, turn left.

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