Born in Paris, she arrived in the French Alps at age five and started climbing at the age of 15. After several difficult routes in the Alps, she focused her attention on the Andes, and then the Himalayas, where she climbed K2 (1992; fourth woman overall, and solo climb), Shisha Pangma (1993), Cho Oyu (1993), Lhotse (1996; first woman solo), Manaslu (1996), and Gasherbrum II (1997), all without supplemental oxygen.
In honor of her generosity, her friends and family created a foundation to help needy Nepalese children, especially girls and those in need of schooling: The Association Chantal Mauduit Namasté. Created by the Association, the Chantal Mauduit School in Kathmandu now enrolls 200 children.
Mauduit needed to be rescued by Ed Viesturs and Scott Fischer on descent from K2 in 1992, Viesturs and Fischer gave up their own summit attempt of K2 at the time in order to get Mauduit, who had become snow blind, to safety. According to Viesturs, Mauduit never thanked them for the rescue. In fact, in his account of the 1996 Everest disaster Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer quotes Mauduit as grateful for the 1992 rescue and as mourning the death of Scott Fischer who she also deemed a friend.
After collapsing during a failed summit attempt on Mount Everest in 1995, Mauduit was carried off the mountain by other climbers. Some climbers, again including Viesturs, perceived her as ungrateful for never acknowledging the lifesaving assistance that she had been given. She was also accused of not pulling her weight on climbing expeditions, leaving it to others to fix ropes on difficult sections of mountain or stock higher camps with food and other provisions, and then taking advantage of their work.
Ed Viesturs also raised questions about the cause of Mauduit's death, suggesting either suffocation or carbon monoxide poisoning as other possible causes, thus implying that Mauduit and her sherpa set up their campsite wrong. Viesturs was on Dhaulagiri at the time of Mauduit's death, but had no first hand knowledge about how Mauduit died. The French autopsy concluded that the cause of death was a broken neck as a result of an ice or rock strike, and Viesturs does not formally question the autopsy's findings. Frederique Delrieu, a climbing companion of both Viesturs and Mauduit, saw Mauduit's body first-hand and confirmed that she had a broken neck.
- Homepage de l'Association Chantal Mauduit Namasté
- Viesturs, Ed (2006). No Shortcuts to the Top. Broadway Books.
- Jordan, Jennifer (2005). Savage Summit: The Life and Death of the First Women of K2. It Books.
- "Cause of Mauduit Death Confirmed". MountainZone.com. September 29, 1998. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
- Association Chantal Mauduit Namaste (in French)