Left: George Mallory and Andrew Irvine © RGS/The Sandy Irvine Trust, from "Ghosts of Everest" ; Right: 1924 North Face locations © Pete Poston
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"I'm quite doubtful if I shall be fit enough. But again I wonder if the monsoon will give us a chance. I don't want to get caught, but our three-day scheme from the Chang La will give the monsoon a good chance. We shall be going up again the day after tomorrow. Six days to the top from this camp!"
--from George Mallory's last letter to his wife prior to disappearing on Mt. Everest with his partner Andrew "Sandy" Irvine in 1924
"My face is in perfect agony. Have prepared two oxygen apparatus for our start tomorrow morning".
- Sandy Irvine's last diary entry
History of Mount Everest from 1903 - 1975 (copyright © 2005)
Reference: "Everest" 3rd ed, by Walt Unsworth
1903: The Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, concerned about possible Russian influence inside Tibet, sends Sir Francis Younghusband to ostensibly negotiate "frontiers and trade". The Tibetans refuse to enter negotiations, so Younghusband leads a British Army Expedition to Lhasa. A treaty is eventually signed in September, 1904, after the Dalai Lama flees to Mongolia.
1904: A member of Younghusband's staff, J. Claude White, photographs the Eastern side of Everest from Kampa Dzong, 94 miles away. While not the first photograph of Everest ever taken, it's the first to show any significant details of the mountain.
1907: Natha Singh, a member of the British Indian Survey, obtains permission to enter the Mount Everest region from the Nepalese side. He maps the Dudh Kosi valley - gateway to the southern route up the mountain - all the way to the end of the Khumbu Glacier.
1913: Captain John Noel, a British military officer, travels to Tibet in disguise (at the time foreigners were forbidden in Tibet) to find the best way to approach Everest. He comes to within 60 miles of Everest, only to find his way blocked by an unexpected mountain range that did not appear on his faulty maps. Noel is able to view the top 1000 feet (300 meters) of Everest when it appears out of the shifting mists, a "glittering spire of rock fluted with snow".
1920: The Dalai Lama opens Tibet to outsiders after the political situation involving China and Russia relaxes somewhat. The Royal Geographic Society and the Alpine Club hold a joint meeting to discuss how to proceed with an expedition to Mount Everest. Explorers had reached both the North and South Poles, so the next "feat" was Everest. The Mount Everest Committee is established by Younghusband, and a formal resolution is passed stating that an expedition would take place the following year with reconnaissance as the first priority, (although a summit attempt was not discouraged). A full-scale summit attempt was to be launched the following year in 1922.
1921: The First British Everest Reconnaissance Expedition to the mountain, led by Lt. Colonel Charles Howard-Bury. This is George Leigh Mallory's first trip to the mountain. After spending ten weeks exploring the northern and eastern reaches of the mountain, on September 24, 1921, Guy Bullock and George Mallory were the first climbers to reach the North Col of Everest at an altitude of around 23,000 feet (7000 meters). The northern route up the mountain had now been established.
1922: The Second British Everest Expedition to the mountain, led by Brigadier General C.G. Bruce, following the same route reconnoitered the previous year. George Mallory returns along with climbers George Finch, Geoffrey Bruce, Henry Morshead, Edward Norton, Howard Somervell, and John Noel as expedition filmmaker. On May 22nd, Mallory, Norton, Somervell and Morshead make the first assault, and climb to 26,800 feet (8170 m) on the North Ridge before retreating. On May 23rd, George Finch and Geoffrey Bruce climb up the North Ridge and Face to 27,300 (8320 meters) feet using oxygen. On June 7th, Mallory leads a third attempt on the summit that claims the lives of seven Sherpa climbers in an avalanche below the North Col, the first reported deaths on Everest.
1923: While on a lecture tour in the United States, a reporter asks Mallory why he wants to climb Everest, and Mallory immortally replies "Because it's there".
If you're a devoted Mallory and Irvine fan, please visit my Mallory and Irvine forum.
congratulations to the visitor from Seattle, WA who visited at 02:13:42 PM, Wed May 29. You are the 100,000th visitor to my webpage!
According to the Huffington Post, super climbers Ueli Steck and Simon Moro, while attempting a new route on the SW Face of Everest, got into a fight with the Sherpas fixing ropes up the Lhotse Face. Here is Simon Moro's response given in an interview with Planet Mountain.
This is big news, indeed. In Graham Hoyland's new book (which you can pre-order on Amazon), he reveals that there was a sighting of Mallory in 1933, which has been kept a family secret all of these years. Check out this interview here
No news about any searches for Irvine this year, although there are always things brewing under the radar.
Jochen Hemmleb's documentary of his 2010 search for Irvine is now available with English translation.
The first fatality of the year - Everest icefall doctor Mingmar Sherpa was killed when he fell into a crevasse in the Western Cwn.
It was bound to happen. Using Google Earth, you can now trek to Mount Everest as viewed from street level. Google has also announced in the past that they plan to use climbers to photograph the way all the way to the summit.
Mark Horrell is an British climber who climbed the Northeast Ridge of Mount Everest in 2012. He has a great blog where he explains why he believes Mallory and Irvine summited in 1924. Horrell is also the author of numerous Kindle books about the history of the Himalaya which you can download from Amazon.com. Highly recommended reading.
The politics of Mallory and Irvine continues - the British climbing establishment is quiet about Hemmleb's search but Holzel's is roundly condemned.
Hemmleb has been spotted in Kathmandu, and will be searching again even though he says they won't be. He said the same thing last year, and we know how that turned out.
According to KSL.com, Graham Hoyland is searching this year as well.
UPDATE: Hemmleb is at Advanced Base Camp (ABC) on the North side with lots of heavy video cameras.
UPDATE: Hemmleb failed to find Irvine this year.
UPDATED - 4/19/11
The results of Hemmleb's 2010 search expedition were unsuccessful, and here is a map of where he looked (look for the Big and Little Cracks on the ridgecrest). Hemmleb also has posted his latest theories on his webpage, as well as some complaining about criticism.
Attention searchers! - Tom Holzel tells you how to handle the film
Harvey V. Lankford, MD, has written a paper documenting the origin of the term "Glacier Lassitude" as a diagnosis for the debilitating effect of altitude as experienced by members of the early British Everest expeditions.
My new theory about Mallory and Irvine's last climb, where I believe Odell's sighting was erroneous, and have them taking the Couloir route instead.
Warwick Pryce is a new researcher who has arrived on the scene, and he has a new theory about how Andrew Irvine could have been the first person to stand on the top of the world.
Wim Kohsiek has a new interpretation of what Mallory's altimeter can tell us based on scientific applications of meterology.
Mallory and Irvine researcher Wim Kohsiek has two new thought-provoking articles about Mallory's watch and Irvine's location:
1924 Oxygen by Richard McQuet and Pete Poston
Mystery of Mallory and Irvine's Fate Google Earth Tour - my own ideas in 3-D with audio!
Little Known Free-Solo Ascent of the Second Step in 2001 by Theo Fritsche - I should never have written this - Anker and Houlding deserve credit for the first free ascent
Criticisms of the 2004 EverestNews.com search for Irvine --
Conrad Anker's comments on the unlikeliness of a direct route up the prow of the 2nd Step
Articles about my heroes Walter Bonatti and Chris Bonington --
Celebrating my 50th birthday on pitch 3 of Prodigal Son, Zion National Park, Utah
In my free time, I love to photograph and hike the spectacular redrock wilderness of the Colorado Plateau - please visit my Colorado Plateau Homepage.
And for most of my life I've been fascinated with the history, people, and culture of the Himalayas and Karakoram - browse my Mount Everest Trek (1996), Overland Journey from Kathmandu to Lhasa (2000), and K2 Base Camp Trek (2007) webpages.
As for my employment, I work for Western Oregon University where I have been a Professor of Chemistry for the last 20 years. My research interests are in applications of Laser Raman Spectroscopy to such diverse fields as Nanotechnology, Analytical Chemistry, and even a bit of Achaeology through the study of rock art pigments found in the Colorado Plateau. You can access my academic webpage here.