Perhaps, but i'm inclined to think that making it back to tell the tale is almost part of the deal.
EDIT: Slight addendum. I voted for option five but what i think is that as we can't be sure both Hillary and Tenzing should get the credit. Its pretty well believed that Hillary took the final steps first but they made the ascent together and deserve equal praise.
The FT story, didn't convince me, it just backed up my convictions, I've thought that mallory got to the summit first ever since they found his body a few years back without the photos of his wife he said he'd put at the sumit. he did have the rest of his papers on him, even recepts from Cathmandoo (definate spelling mistake there).
Yes he could have dropped them (although unlikly because the photos were stored with the rest of the documents all of which apeared to be present) but I think its entirly possible that if they're not still at the summet or blown away Hilary would have been very anoyed to have been beaten to the prize and 'got rid' while no one was looking
Perhaps its my liking for a good story clouding my judgement on this but I belive Mallory could, and did reach the top of the world first.
The article was split into two chunks, the first chunk the story of the attempt, background and about the people involved. Then halfway through the writer states his personal belief that Mallory was indeed successful (to the tune of a 500 quid bet at 50/1 that conclusive proof would be found by the end of the decade), and goes on to state the reasons. Which are:
1) Mallory and Irvine had good weather for the final push
2) They had oxygen
3) They were seen going strongly for the top by fellow climber Noel Odell at base camp.
It describes the route between base camp and the summit as three "steps" in the rock, walls of rock needing serious climbing. Common wisdom has it that Mallory and co. were seen at the first step and would have turned around at the second step due to its difficulty, as it is supposedly very difficult to free climb, a feat even modern climbers find in some cases impossible (though not all) and wasn't done until either 1960 or 1975 (accounts vary). Odell reckons he saw Mallory and Irvine beyond this point and not far from the summit before they were hidden by cloud and never seen again, though later was pressured into altering his statement. The article put forward a rubuttal of Odell being mistaken due to the good conditions, and the observational skills of Odell. There's a lot of detail in this hypothesis which only the article can do justice.
4) Free-climbing the second step - if anyone could do it, it was Mallory.
5) Snow goggles were found not on Mallory's head, but in his pocket, suggesting he died after the sun had set. Due to the timing, if Mallory had turned back, he would have made it in daylight as they would have known they couldn't have pushed for the summit and returned before sundown. The goggles in the pocket suggest he died during a night descent.
6) Mallory intended to place a photo of his wife on the summit and leave it there. No letters or photos of his wife were found on his body. He had letters from other people on him, but not his wife. Perhaps he left his wifes letters with the photo at the summit
7) He simply wouldn't have turned back. He was consumed with the challenge. At 38, it was probably his last chance. Mountaineers often suffer from "Summit Fever", an irrational drive to push on.
I hope I did the article justice above, as it's rather hurried, but you get the gist....
"no, it's all lies! I was there first !!!" as he burnt some photos on the stove under the sauspan of beans at base camp...
Well not really this is what he said in an interveiw about mallory
If it were discovered that Mallory had, in actual fact, set foot on the top of Everest, obviously it would make some difference to Tenzing and myself. For 33 years, we have been regarded as the heroic figures who first reached the summit of Everest. Well, now I guess we'd be just downgraded a little bit, to being the first two men who reached the summit and actually got safely down again. Which brings up a point, of course. If you climb a mountain for the first time and die on the descent, is it really a complete first ascent of the mountain? I'm rather inclined to think, personally, that maybe it's quite important, the getting down. And the complete climb of a mountain is reaching the summit and getting safely to the bottom again.
the interveiw in full is here along with an interveiw with Noel Odell from mallorys expedition (see point 3 of DD's summary post of the FT article) the site is a companion website to the TV documentory 'Lost on Everest: the search for Mallory and Irvine' which is shown everyso often on either the discovory channel or national geographic (can't remember which sorry) http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/everest/lost/
The only real proof we might find now would be on Irvine's body.
He had the camera and given the cold conditions on Everest, it still may be posssible to develop the film.
Mallory and Irvine were close to the summit before the weather turned nasty, after that there's no proof of anything. Given how quickly the weather at that altitude can change and how bad it can get (windchill of -100C) even if they were above the second step it doesn't mean they reached the summit.
Goggles in pocket - hypothermia affects judgement and causes people to behave irrationally. Mallory may have just taken them off. Conjecture and educated guesses are not proof.
Well, if Mallory and Irvine HAD got to the top, they would still have been the first human beings ever to set their feet on the top of that mountain. The evidence that they did is fairly reasonable.
I disagree with what Hillary said about the first proper ascent, although I can understand why he said it!
We have all seen the footprints on the moon (assuming they are real blah, blah!) If Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had died on the trip back, which I have heard they may have, without Micheal Collins level-headedness, and we were then the second set of people to go to the moon, even though we got back alive, the first thing we would have seen when we landed would have been those footprints. Not quite the same is it?
I also would like to think that Mallory and Irvine made it to the top, nae disrespect to Hillary and Tenzing, but I don't like the thought of them dying so close to the top. Its as bad as the Scott expedition. I'm waffling now. I'll stop.
The results of a unique experiment on Mount Everest confirm that the clothing of the 1924 climbers George Mallory and Sandy Irvine would not have prevented them from reaching the summit, as many had believed.
The findings are a step closer to proving the men could have reached the top, 29 years before Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary.
Over the past few weeks, climber Graham Hoyland has been putting the old-style clothing worn on the fateful Mallory expedition to the ultimate field test on the world's highest mountain.
Wearing replica gear made from gabardine, wool, cotton and silk, he wanted to disprove the common myth that the 1920s climbers were ill-equipped to reach the summit.
"This is just another brick in my wall of evidence," Hoyland said.
Following the discovery of Mallory's body on the north face of Everest in 1999, a team of forensic textile experts from Lancaster, Leeds, Southampton and Derby universities embarked on an experiment to recreate the outfit from samples of Mallory's clothing which had been preserved in ice.
The three-year project, lead by Professor Mary Rose and Mike Parsons, revealed that Mallory's clothing was highly effective at providing protection at high altitude.
The layered natural materials used to construct the garments were found to be excellent at trapping air next to the skin.
The outer layer of gabardine was hardwearing and water-resistant yet breathable. But the clothing was also lighter than modern gear - the lightest ever to be used on Everest.
Parsons said: "The results stand out as a challenge for future outdoor innovators because Mallory's clothing and footwear was 20% and 40% lighter respectively."
The results of Hoyland's in-the-field experiment have now confirmed the experts' investigations.
Wearing the replica clothing for two days on Everest, Hoyland tested the suit alongside the expedition leader who was wearing a typical modern down suit.
"I immediately found the underclothes warm to put on, whereas the modern polypropylene underwear feels cold and clammy," said Hoyland.
"When exposed to a cutting wind blowing off the main Rongbuk glacier, I found the true value of the Gabardine outer layers. These resisted the wind and allowed the eight layers beneath to trap warmed air between them and my skin.
"We both got too hot working on the glacier so we felt that Mallory's clothing would have been more than adequate to climb to the top in, although it would be hard to survive a bivouac near the summit."
Hoyland also discovered that the clothes were more comfortable to wear than modern day gear.
"Like most mountaineers, I am used to synthetic outdoor clothing: polypropylene underclothes and outer fleeces which are bought pre-sized, off the shelf and never quite fit properly.
"They are unforgiving in stretch, and begin to smell unpleasant if worn for more than a couple of days. There is a harsh synthetic sensation next to your skin. By contrast, the Mallory clothing was made to fit me.
"This meant that the shirts didn't ride up, exposing my kidneys when I stretched, and the whole ensemble felt of a piece when walking. Instead of feeling bulky, the layers fitted very well."
But the main difference for Hoyland was the level of movement the clothing allowed - which can mean the difference between life and death when at high altitude.
"The patented Pivot sleeve of the jacket enabled me to lift my arm to full extent when cutting steps with an ice axe without displacing the warm layers of air. If you can reach above your head and climb faster, you could get to the summit before nightfall."
Mallory's clothing did have one major drawback, as Hoyland discovered.
"The immediate problem was fastening buttons with cold fingers. I suspect Mallory and Irvine would have put the clothes on at Advanced Base Camp and left them on for the duration. Fly buttons may have been left undone as there are enough layers to interleave."
But Hoyland says: "All the other climbers thought the jacket was stylish and wanted to know where they could buy their own versions of the clothes!"
The summit attempt and subsequent deaths of Mallory and Irvine sparked the biggest mountaineering mystery, which continues to puzzle the climbing world today.
Norgay and Hillary are credited with the first successful summit, in 1953. But a few, like Hoyland, still believe Mallory could have reached the top and are gradually piecing together the evidence to prove it.
Hoyland is a great nephew of Howard Somervell, one of Mallory's climbing companions who lent Mallory his camera and was one of the last to see him heading for the summit.
Hoyland believes the Kodak camera, which is still to be found, could also hold vital clues about Mallory's ill-fated climb.
An international team of climbers has scaled Everest by retracing the steps of two British men who disappeared just short of the summit in 1924.
The team says its success shows that George Mallory and Andrew Irvine may have been the first to climb the peak.
They say that it adds weight to the theory that the pair may have made it to the top in 1924, 29 years before Hillary and Tenzing's historic feat.
"Early this morning (Thursday) the expedition team removed the ladder which was bolted to the Second Step [a 40m-high, near-vertical rock face], allowing two climbers to free-climb this 100ft rock wall, the last obstacle blocking their route to the summit," a statement released by the Altitude Everest Expedition said.
"In this way the climbers confronted the Second Step very much as Mallory and Irvine might have done 83 years ago.
"Their success at the summit, without the use of the ladder, adds weight to the theory that George Mallory and Sandy Irvine may have made it to the summit in 1924, 29 years before Hillary and Tenzing."
The team was led by American Conrad Anker and Briton Leo Houlding, who have been on Everest since early May.
The latter-day mountaineers used replica 1920s clothing until the final ascent, when for health and safety reasons they used modern equipment.
They braved the extreme conditions wearing clothes made from wool, silk and cotton.
A team spokeswoman told the BBC website that the Second Step is the most dangerous part of the climb.
It is so dangerous that permanent ladders have been fixed to the rock to help exhausted climbers.
But for this expedition, the team obtained special permission from the Chinese authorities to remove the ladders.
This effort is one of the last attempted climbs of Everest before the monsoon rains hit Nepal.
A record number of climbers - 514 - have scaled the mountain this year.
Mallory and Irvine were last sighted a few hundred metres short of the summit before bad weather closed in.
The poll option about the yeti reminded me of a comic. I think it was called Johnny Hazard, and one issue takes place at Mount Everest where they attempt to catch the yeti. But one of the people on the expedition wants to kill it, as he says it beat him to being the first on everests top.
I like to think that mallory & Irvine got to the top, Irvine is a local boy here on the Wirral, my grandad lived next door to his family as a child.
The thing is, have there been any earlier successful climbs, perhaps by non- European climbers, are there any legends of locals getting to the summit? What are the local legends about Everest, did they avoid going there for some reason? Perhaps they considered climbing it was a waste of effort?
Mount Everest's greatest mystery is whether the peak was conquered in 1924, 29 years earlier than previously thought
An Australian adventurer will set out to solve Mount Everest's greatest mystery this week by searching for long-lost evidence that the peak was conquered in 1924, 29 years earlier than previously thought.
An Australian adventurer will set out to solve Mount Everest's greatest mystery this week by searching for long-lost evidence that the peak was conquered in 1924, 29 years earlier than previously thought.
Mountaineer Duncan Chessell said conditions were the best in decades to find the missing body of Andrew "Sandy" Irvine and perhaps photographic evidence that he reached the world's highest peak with fellow Briton George Mallory.
Mallory and Irvine perished near the summit during their expedition, leaving many wondering whether they had successfully scaled Everest. Mallory's body was recovered in 1999 but not the camera equipment he was believed to be carrying.
"I was at North Col last week and the wind was 150 kilometres (90 miles) per hour and it was stripping snow off the mountain which has been there for many years," Chessell said in a message from base camp, according to AAP news agency.
"There is now bare rock exposed which has been deeply covered for decades in the most likely areas where Andrew Irvine's body may be.
"It is my intention to search those areas en route to the summit and take this rare opportunity to find him and, perhaps, the missing cameras."
New Zealand's Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay are acknowledged as the first to conquer Everest in 1953, but Mallory and Irvine's unexplained story has continued to fascinate the mountaineering world.
"I have studied this matter very closely and am now very familiar with Mount Everest," Chessell said. "I believe we have a good chance of finding something."
Chessell, who is also bidding to become the first Australian to summit Everest three times, was due to begin his final ascent on Tuesday and should reach the peak by Sunday or Monday.
Like a lot of people I love the idea that Mallory–Irvine made it to the summit, though I don’t think it’s likely. They would have had to do some difficult climbing up there, at extreme altitude, that 99% of climbers don’t do today since there are fixed ropes and ladders they can use. Few have done it. Some have, though. It’s obviously not entirely impossible.
Like a lot of people, I also love the idea that Tenzing summited before Hillary, but that’s simply not true, Tenzing himself said that Hillary went first, so I don’t see why that’s an option in the poll.
But let’s not feel bad for the Sherpas in terms of Mount Everest records, they practically own the field. Pemba Dorjie made the fastest summit, taking just about 8 hours to do what normally takes days. Many doubt this record, but if it’s not true, Sherpa Lhakpa Gelu did it in under 11 hours, which seems undisputed, and is also absolutely insane. ”Super Sherpa” Apa holds the record for most summits: 19 or 20. It’s insane. And Babu Sherpa spent a whole night on the summit (!!!), without oxygen, and not because he had to but simply to be the first to do it.
Weather Data Sheds New Light on Greatest Mount Everest Mystery
An old, washed-out photograph shows two men at the edge of a snowy abyss, clad in rudimentary mountaineering gear. Those men are George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, and the photo is the last known photo ever taken of them. It was snapped before they disappeared into the clouds of Mount Everest on June 8, 1924.
The British climbers were on a mission. They wanted to become the first people to stand atop the world's tallest mountain — three decades before Sir. Edmund Hillary made his landmark climb. But after they set out, no one knows exactly what happened to them.
Kent Moore might have found the answer. Moore is an atmospheric physicist at the University of Toronto, and he's also a mountaineer —which means he loves to read about mountaineering. "In a variety of books about the 1924 expedition, there were ... clauses saying they [collected] some kind of meteorological data," he tells NPR's Guy Raz.
Moore studies climate change, so he knows that getting your hands on Tibetan climate data from the 1920s is like digging up meteorological gold. And he set out to track down those measurements from the Mallory trek.
"I had a layover in London and a few hours to kill," Moore says. "And so I decided to go to the library of the Royal Geographical Society, which has all the Everest records."
They brought out the old, torn records, and that's when Moore saw it.
"I remember I started reading the numbers and going, 'Oh, gee, there's this huge [barometric] pressure drop! I hope this is the day they were summiting on!'"
A severe drop in barometric pressure on summit day would mean a storm had blown in. Moore checked the dates of the pressure readings against the dates of the summit attempt and they lined up: June 8, 1924, the day Mallory and Irvine disappeared.
A storm, of course, means even more treacherous conditions than usual — wind, snow, little or no visibility. But there's another physical problem: When air pressure drops six miles above sea level, oxygen becomes so scarce that the body can barely function. Climbers in that situation often go into hypoxic shock — and that can induce high altitude cerebral edema, which makes people do crazy things.
"There have been many recorded instances of very experienced climbers becoming disoriented at high altitude and refusing to come down," says Moore. "And on occasion they've been left there and eventually have died, most likely from hypothermia."
Moore's work doesn't answer the question of exactly what happened to Mallory and Irvine that day. Nor does it prove if they made it to the summit.
But Moore's findings do make it highly improbable that the climbers could have reached the top — especially considering the rudimentary gear and limited supply of oxygen the two were carrying.
One hope remains, however, for those who believe the duo beat Hillary: Mallory's camera is still missing. If he and Irvine actually stood on top of the world that day, Mallory is likely to have recorded the moment.
Irvine is the fly in the ointment here. Mallory was a superb climber, perhaps the best of his generation. It's just about possible to believe he could have surmounted all the mountain's challenges. He was also deeply in love with his rather remarkable wife (and himself – "I am profoundly interested in the nude me," he told one friend) ... so the absence of her letters and photos on his body is certainly suggestive. That said, there's no contemporary evidence there was any such agreement with his wife. The idea that Mallory had promised to leave a letter or photo of Ruth Mallory at the summit came later, from his daughter Clare, who just "grew up believing it." [P+L Gillman, The Wildest Dream: Mallory, His Life and Conflicting Passions p.275]
However, Irvine was not a talented climber at all and lacked Himalayas experience. His selection for the expedition, much less the final assault, was a surprise to almost everyone at the time, and was mostly based on his sunny disposition and brute strength. More than that is needed at 28,000 feet.
According to Conrad Anker, who climbed the second step in 1999, there is a 15ft vertical rock face on that route grade hard very severe (5.8), which is at the limit of Mallory's known abilities and way beyond Irvine's. So, while Mallory could have got himself to the top - perhaps - but it's almost impossible to believe he could have got Irvine there too.
According to Conrad Anker, who climbed the second step in 1999, there is a 15ft vertical rock face on that route grade hard very severe (5.8), which is at the limit of Mallory's known abilities and way beyond Irvine's.
Mallory and Irvine: Should we solve Everest's mystery?
By Jon Kelly, BBC News Magazine
The mystery of whether two British adventurers were the first to reach Everest's summit has long intrigued the public. But do we really want to know the truth?
As a tale of doomed, romantic endeavour, it has endured for decades.
It is also Everest's most persistent mystery - did George Mallory and Andrew "Sandy" Irvine make it to the top in 1924, almost 30 years before it was officially conquered?
The pair, equipped with primitive climbing gear, were last sighted a few hundred metres away from the summit before bad weather closed in around them.
Wearing Burberry gabardine jackets and hobnail boots, and carrying a rudimentary oxygen supply, their gear was a far cry from the hi-tech protective clothing worn by modern mountaineers.
And historians have long argued whether or not they made it to the peak before succumbing to the freezing conditions.
A forthcoming expedition to Everest aiming to establish what exactly happened is just the latest in a series of attempts to solve the puzzle. But despite the continued speculation, many of those with a stake in the mystery hope it will never be resolved, fearing the prosaic truth could never match the legend.
Successive expeditions have been staged to try to piece together their movements. The discovery of Mallory's body in 1999 fuelled interest in the mystery but failed to resolve it.
Those who believe the duo did reach the summit believe a camera carried by them could finally settle the controversy. If the two men did reach the top, it is reasoned, they would have taken a photograph.
When Mallory's remains were found, no camera was recovered. Now the new US-led hunt in December will seek Irvine's body and the missing film.
Julie Summers, Irvine's great-niece and biographer, who is undertaking a lecture tour about him, is one of those who hopes the mountain will retain its secret.
"I like the idea of it being one of our great enduring mysteries," she says.
"There's something about the romance of it - there's an otherworldliness to the story."
Certainly, few would doubt that the tale of Mallory and Irvine has come to represent more than just a single, doomed climb.
The persistence of the story has much to do with its protagonists' contemporary fame. The attempt to conquer Everest was closely followed by the public and the subject of regular breathless dispatches in the Times prior to their disappearance.
But the historical context ensured their disappearance symbolised more than simply the tragic deaths of two young men. The recent memory of World War I - in which most of the expeditionists, with the notable exception of 22-year-old Irvine, had served - added an additional dimension of poignancy to their loss.
Subsequently, too, the noble failure of this ill-equipped, Boys' Own-like adventure has come to be seen as a symbolic portent of the British empire's demise.
The personal dynamic of the pair has added much to their continued mystique.
Mallory was an aesthete and Cambridge lecturer who had consorted with members of the avant-garde Bloomsbury Group. In one of the most famous statements ever made about mountaineering, when asked why he wanted to climb Everest, Mallory replied: "Because it's there."
Irvine, 15 years his junior, was a taciturn engineering student whose physical strength and uncomplaining hard work meant he was chosen by Mallory to be his companion during the ascent, despite the younger man being the least experienced climber in the 13-strong expedition team.
The tragedy of two individuals - one consumed by a desire to overcome the summit, the other bolstered by youthful fearlessness - driving themselves on towards their fate is what makes the story compelling, believes Rebecca Stephens, the first British woman to climb Everest.
"If you have that burning desire inside to do something like that, it's very difficult to let go," she says.
"With Mallory, there's no question that climbing Everest was everything to him. Irvine was so young, I think he just got carried along."
And while this compelling personal narrative leads some to protect the myth, it also inspires among others a drive to attempt to find out exactly what happened to them.
Film-maker Graham Hoyland was part of the 1999 expedition which found Mallory's body and has written a book which, he says, will settle the mystery.
Hoyland says he recognises the saga's allure. But he believes that uncovering the men's fate is the only way to truly appreciate their achievements.
"I think we should historicise it rather than mythologise it," he says.
"I do understand the appeal of the myth - as a boy I was besotted by the story. But I do think there's more value in getting the truth out. That's the only way we can really assess the circumstances."
Whether these two remarkable men reached the summit may never be resolved. But whatever the outcome of the next expedition, the fascination their story inspires is unlikely to fade.