Charlotte Fox, a survivor of the deadly 1996 Mount Everest expedition, died last week after an apparent fall down the stairs at her Telluride, Colo., home.
Fox, who was 61, was found dead on May 24 by friends who were staying with the climber for a “Mountainfilm” weekend.
One of them, Kim Reynolds, told the Telluride Daily Planet that “finding her body was a very shocking and difficult thing.”
“She gave me a gift when I arrived,” Reynolds said. “She recently had a birthday, and she told me, ‘I’m happy to be 61.’ … Those words, ‘I’m happy,’ might have gone right in and out of my ears if this hadn’t happened. … To be the last person with her, with my hands on her heart, and to remember those last words she said to me, I have to look at it as a privilege rather than a horror. … I got to send her off, with love.”
San Miguel County Coroner Emil Sante said Tuesday he is waiting for results of a toxicology report and hasn’t yet released the cause and manner of death. Foul play is not suspected.
Fox endured several tragedies over the course of her life. Her longtime boyfriend died in an avalanche in 1993 and her husband, Reese Martin, died in a paragliding accident in 2004, Rock and Ice reported.
Fox, a North Carolina native, made headlines after the tragedy on Mount Everest in 1996. She was one of the many climbers – in large groups, small groups and even some solo mountaineers – attempting to descend from the summit of Everest when they became caught in a blizzard.
Eight climbers died and Fox told Jon Krakauer, who wrote “Into Thin Air” based on the incident, that she did not think she was going to survive, the Washington Post reported.
“I didn’t see how we were going to get out of it alive,” Fox told Krakauer. “The cold was so painful, I didn’t think I could endure it anymore. I just curled up in a ball and hoped death would come quickly.”
Fox was the first woman to climb three mountains “at altitudes of 8,000 meters or higher” after she reached Mount Everest’s summit. She continued climbing and even trekked up two more 8,000-meter mountains two years before her death.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.