Elisabeth Revol is not one of those professional climber who constantly informs the public about their plans and then share their adventures in real time. When her sponsor Valandre announced on 23 May that the 39-year-old Frenchwoman had scaled Mount Everest without bottled oxygen, hardly anyone knew that she was on the highest mountain on earth. One day later she also reached the summit of Lhotse.
Last Saturday Valandre rowed back. Because Revol was already pre-acclimatized to an altitude of 8,400 meters, it had been “in error” assumed that she had not used bottled oxygen on Everest, the company said.
“As a pre-caution”
They had spread the news via the social networks without Revol having confirmed it, Valandre announced: “What we did not know and we and the world knows now, that the congestion on the last few hundred meters leading to the summit on that day was horrendous, and indeed, tragically fatal for some. Elisabeth had a choice either to renounce her bid or take some oxygen as a prudent pre-caution to fulfil her childhood dream. We value her strength of judgment of an experienced athlete and respect her choice. We are in awe of her spirit.”
Correction after press release
Why it took the company two weeks to admit their mistake and why Elisabeth did not correct the circumstances of her Everest climb herself remains an open question. Last Friday, the French website “Alpine Mag” reported that Revol had used bottled oxygen on Everest, referring to statement of the German climber David Göttler and the Himalayan Database. On the same day like Revol, Göttler had tried to ascend without breathing mask, but had turned around near the South Summit because of too many people on the summit ridge. “I knew that if I went on I would be incredibly dependent on how all the other people up here move (or don’t move). And I couldn’t control that fact,” David had written to me.
Already on the day of her summit success on Lhotse, first doubts had arisen as to whether Revol had really managed to comb Everest completely without breathing mask. “It is possible that due to the traffic on Everest she had to use bottled oxygen when descending from the summit. I am not able to confirm this right now,” Rishi Ram Bhandari of the Nepalese operator “Satori Adventures” had said and added that Revol had been accompanied by at least two Sherpas.
Also on 23 May, the Chilean Juan Pablo Mohr had, according to his own words, reached the summit of Everest without bottled oxygen. So far no one has contradicted him.
Tragedy after winter ascent
In 2018, Elisabeth Revol had become the first woman to scale the Nanga Parbat in winter. During the descent she had had to leave her Polish team partner Tomek Mackiewicz suffering severely from snow blindness and high altitude illness at 7,200 meters. She herself had been rescued, but had suffered from severe frostbite.