Melissa Arnot Becomes First American Woman to Summit Everest Without Oxygen

melissa arnot 2010 summit of Everest

Amongst the very busy Everest climbing season that just wrapped up there were a number of impressive individual accomplishments. For instance, on May 23 alpinist Melissa Arnot reached the summit of the world’s highest peak for the sixth time in her illustrious career. But what set this particular summit apart from the others, is that it was accomplished without the use of supplemental oxygen, giving Arnot the distinction of being the first American woman to successfully accomplish that feat.

One of the most accomplished female mountaineers in the world, Melissa has been climbing and guiding on Everest for years. She had hoped to summit without oxygen last year, but that attempt was brought to an abrupt end due to the massive earthquake that occurred on April 25. She has been training and planning for a second attempt ever since.

When asked about her accomplishment, Arnot said “Climbing Everest without supplemental oxygen has been a goal of mine for a long time. When you succeed at reaching your goal, it makes you reflect on the hard days, the work, and lessons I’ve learned along the way. I’m incredibly fortunate to have this experience.”

Her sixth summit of the world’s tallest mountain breaks her own record for the most by a non-Sherpa female climber as well. And since she is just 32 years old, it seems likely that she’ll at least attempt to climb the mountain a few more times before she’s done. But her next project will be an attempt at reaching the highest points in all 50 U.S. states in just 50 days, which will get underway later this summer.

There is some question about whether or not Arnot is actually the first American woman to climb Everest without the use of oxygen however. As National Geographic Adventure points out, Hawaiian born climber Francys Assentive accomplished the same feat back in 1998, but she – along with her husband Sergei – both died on the descent. For many, a successful climb requires the mountaineer to safely get up and down the mountain. Arnot is definitely the first American woman to do that.

Congrats to Melissa on this amazing accomplishment. We’re looking forward to following her on that 50 in 50 adventure, which gets underway in just a few weeks.

Kraig Becker