Charlotte Fox, who survived a harrowing storm on Mount Everest in 1996 famously chronicled in Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, has died after an apparent fall in her home. Friends of the 61-year-old climber found her on the floor and believe she slipped on the hardwood stairs of her four-story home in Telluride, Colo., reports Rock and Ice magazine. The coroner hasn’t released the cause of death but told the Post that the death was not suspicious. Fox, a native of Greensboro, NC, was the first US woman to climb three 8,000-meter peaks, according to EverestHistory, and she was the first American woman to reach the summit of Gasherbrum II on the Pakistan-China border. She has climbed Mt Vinson in Antarctica, Kilimanjaro, Mont Blanc, and all of Colorado’s “14ers," or peaks above 14,000 feet.
According to the Washington Post, Fox worked as a ski patroller in Colorado for 30 years. She was a “fixture in the Aspen climbing and skiing community from the early 1980s until she moved to Telluride in 2007,” reports the Aspen Times. Friends were especially dismayed that such an accomplished climber would die from a simple household slip. "It made me think, 'Jeez, it's just so wrong,'" says longtime friend and climbing partner Andrea Cutter. Another friend, Amy Denicke, understands how Fox survived so many climbs, including the Everest disaster, which took eight lives. Denicke tells the Times that Fox had the unusual characteristic of getting stronger as she climbed higher in altitude. "She was almost like a freak of nature." (Read more Mount Everest stories.)