This season, American mountaineer Melissa Arnot is attempting to become the first North American women to climb Mount Everest without bottled oxygen.
Arnot has already summited Mount Everest five times and is attempting the South Col route with a team of four.
In 1976, Italian Reinhold Messner and Austrian Peter Habeler were the first people to climb Everest without supplementary oxygen.
While Sharon Wood was the first North American woman to climb Everest in 1986, no woman from North America has managed to climb the peak without supplementary oxygen.
The first woman to climb Everest without bottled oxygen was Alison Hargreaves, an English climber from Derbyshire, who did it solo in 1995. She also soloed all the great north faces of the Alps in one season, a first for any climber.
Due to the low levels of oxygen and the high altitude, the majority of people who climb Everest use supplementary oxygen. Arnot has climbed Mount Rainier ninety-two times, and describes her expedition as being one of the most challenging things she has ever attempted. Arnot states, “It is the most difficult thing I have attempted in my climbing career.” Arnot attempted this climb last year but was unsuccessful due to the tragic avalanche that killed sixteen Sherpas.
This year Arnot and her team will make three to four acclimatization climbs up Everest to Camp two, three and four to acclimatize.
When the weather permits and the team feels ready, Arnot will make the final push to the summit, in late May. Arnot’s friend Cory Richards says, “Right now, Melissa is at base camp attempting, yet again, a life-long goal. Having already climbed Everest five times, with any luck, her sixth will be the most impressive.”
Canadian Nancy Hansen is also attempting to become the first North American woman to climb Everest without bottled O2.
-Written by Gripped’s intern Sophia Vlahos.