Veteran mountain climber Charlotte Fox's obituary begins by mentioning her most famous climb, the one in 1996 when she survived a disastrous climb on Mount Everest that left eight people dead and became the subject of a book.
Then it tells how she died last week: Fox fell down a set of stairs at her home in Telluride, Colorado. Two friends found her at the bottom of the steps.
Fox had just turned 61 on May 10.
The North Carolina native was well-known in the Aspen-Telluride community, according to the Aspen Times. An accomplished skier and climber — the first American woman to climb three 8,000-meter peaks — and former member of the ski patrol team at the Snowmass resort, she had completed seven summits in her lifetime, the Times reported.
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After finishing college in the mid 1970s she decided to spend a year in the Rocky Mountains to contemplate her next steps in life, and that was that. She didn't go back to North Carolina, her mother once said.
She started to climb mountains.
"Charlotte had survived so much up high, it was stunning and profoundly sad that she died that evening of May 24 in a household accident," Alison Osius, executive editor of Rock and Ice magazine and a friend of Fox's, wrote online this week.
"Charlotte had apparently fallen on one of the steep flights of hardwood stairs in her 4.5-story, 77-stair house (she never took the elevator, even when rehabbing a knee injury), which is entered via the top floor; sustained injuries; and apparently died immediately."
San Miguel County Coroner Emil Sante told the Telluride Daily Planet that it was "too early to speculate on (the) cause and manner of her death,” but that foul play is not suspected.
The friends who found her were staying with Fox during Telluride's annual Mountainfilm festival. They had a long holiday weekend of fun planned, according to Osius.
"Kim and Peter came home at perhaps 10:45 p.m. to the house, and in descending found their friend. Somehow the scene, sorrowful as it was, was indicative of her life," she wrote.
"Her house was full, with three friends already staying and two more soon to arrive, because she was a giver: generous and open-hearted. She loved Mountainfilm and the mountain community. Beyond those, she encouraged others to have confidence as climbers or people."
Fox's escape from death on Mount Everest was described in the book "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer, who was with Fox and several climbing teams when they became stranded in a blizzard during their descent to base camp.
"The cold was so painful, I didn't think I could endure it anymore," Fox said in the book. "I just curled up in a ball and hoped death would come quickly."
Back home in North Carolina, Fox's mother, Ann Black, received a devastating call from her son on Mother's Day: "I think Charlotte is in trouble." It would be two days before Black learned that her daughter was alive, the Greensboro News & Record reported at the time.
Eight others died.
Friends say Fox didn't like talking about what happened on Everest and avoided media interviews. She described the climb once in great detail for The American Alpine Journal.
Tragedy found her again in 2004 when her husband, Reese Martin, died in a paragliding accident.
In an email to the Daily Planet, Krakauer called Fox “a beloved member of our strange tribe.”
“With Charlotte, you always know exactly what she thought,” the author wrote. “She wasn’t shy about expressing her displeasure if you did something that annoyed her, but she was always quick to forgive. I am just one of many who will miss her a lot.”
At the Mountainfilm festival over the weekend people set up an impromptu memorial of skis, poles and notes in a Telluride park. Friends spent the weekend swapping stories, recalling Fox's "Southern charm," her deep belly laugh and loyalty.
One friend described her to Osius as a woman who loved her dogs, her friends and her Chardonnay.
And oh, the irony of her death.
When word spread of how she died, longtime friend Andrea Cutter told the Aspen Times, people couldn't believe it.
"It made me think, 'Jeez, it's just so wrong,'" she said.