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
1963: American Expedition with Norman Dyhrenfurth as leader and including A. Auten, Barry Bishop, Jake Breitenbach, J. Corbet, D. Dingman, D. Doody, R. Emerson, Tom Hornbein, Lute Jerstad, J. Lester, Willi Unsoeld, and Jim Whittaker. A huge expedition, costing almost $400,000 and supported by the National Geographic Society, over 900 porters carry 29 tons of food and equipment to the base of the mountain. Base Camp is established at the foot of the Khumbu Icefall on Mar 21 and the route through the icefall prepared soon after. Jake Breitenbach is killed by collapsing seracs in the Icefall but the expedition continues. The expedition splits into two parties - the West Ridgers and the South Collers.
1965: Third Indian Expedition, with Commander M.S Kohli as leader. On May 20, 1965 they succeed when A.S. Cheema and Sherpa Nawang Gombu ascend the SE Ridge. Gombu becomes the first person to summit Everest twice (the 11th and 17th summit). Out of the first seventeen summits of Everest, Nawang had two of them! Additional summits were achieved by Sonam Gyatso, Sonam Wangyal, C.P. Vohra, Ang Kami, H.P.S. Ahluwalia, H.C.S. Rawat, and Phu Dorje.
1966-1969: Nepal is closed to mountaineering during this politically tense period involving antagonists India and China.
1969: Japanese SW Face Reconnaissance Expeditions. In the Spring, a party including Naomi Uemura enters the Western Cwm and probes the lower slopes. The Japanese return in the autumn with Uemura and Masatsugu Konishi, and the route is pushed up the Central Gully to the base of the Rock Band before the expedition returns home, convinced that a full-scale expedition could succeed.
1970: Japanese SW Face Expedition led by the seventy-year old veteran Saburo Matsukata. A massive expedition with 39 climbers, seventy-seven Sherpas and a woman, Setsuko Watanabe. Unable to improve on the previous year's reconnaissance efforts due to poor snow conditions and rockfall, the expedition switches to the standard South Col route. Teruo Matsuura and Naomi Uemura reach the summit on May 11, followed by K. Hirabayashi and Chottare Sherpa on the next day. Watanabe sets an altitude record for women by climbing to the South Col.
1970: Japanese Ski Expedition. Climbing along with the SW Face expedition, Yuichiro Miura skis from the South Col to the bottom of the Lhotse Face on May 6. Reaching speeds of 100 mph (160 kph), Miura slows himself with a parachute but loses control after hitting some rocks. He slides unconscious about 600 feet (200 meters) down the icy slopes, and fortunately stops just short of a huge crevasse.
1971: International Expedition. Norman Dyhrenfurth leads an expedition with thirty climbers from thirteen different countries including Don Whillans, Dougal Haston, Naomi Uemura, Pierre Mazeaud, and H. Bahuguna. This optimistic expedition hopes to simultaneously climb the SW Face and the West Ridge Direct, but is fraught with one- upsmanship, personality conflicts, and organizational problems. Bahuguna is caught out in a storm at Camp 3W. A rescue party climbs up to help him and he is found clipped onto the fixed ropes, missing a glove, his bare midriff exposed to the storm, and his face coated in ice. When it proves impossible to move him horizontally, they try to lower him vertically into the shelter of a crevasse, but the rope runs out before they can reach it a la Tony Kurtz on the Eiger Nordwald. Whillans utters his famous remark, "Sorry Harsh old son, you've had it." The expedition falters after his death, but Whillans and Haston push the SW Face route to 27,400 feet (8,350 meters) before lack of equipment forces an end to the expedition.
1971: Argentine Post-Monsoon Expedition. A post-monsoon expedition where J. Peterek and U. Vitale reach 26,600 feet (8,100 meters) before being defeated by high winds and an unfavorable weather forecast.
1972: European Expedition to the SW Face led by Dr. Karl Herrligkoffer and including climbers Don Whillans, Doug Scott, Hamish MacInnes, Felix Kuen, Adolf Huber, Werner Haim, and Leo Breitenberger. The expedition is plagued by personality conflicts and the withdrawal of many of the climbers, but the route is pushed as high as 27,200 feet (8,300 meters) before the attempt is abandoned.
1972: British SW Face Expedition led by Chris Bonington including climbers Mick Burke, Nick Estcourt, Dougal Haston, K. Kent, Hamish MacInnes, Tony Tighe, and Doug Scott. A post-monsoon expedition confronted with terrible weather, an elevation of 27,200 feet (8,300 meters) is reached below the Rock Band before retreating. Tragically, Tony Tighe is killed in the Icefall during the descent.
1973: Italian Expedition. Another huge expedition with sixty-four members led by Guido Monzino. Helicopters are used to shuttle equipment past the Khumbu Icefall and one hundred Sherpas are also employed. Eight climbers succeed via the South Col Route, including 16 year old Sambhu Tamang of Nepal. It is later revealed that Sambhu was actually 18. Italian Summiters were Rinaldo Carrel, Mirko Minuzzo, Fabrizio Innamorati, Virginio Epis, and Claudio Benedetti.
1973: Japanese Expedition. Led by Michio Yuasa, this large forty- eight man expedition attempted both the SW Face and South Col route. The SW Face party reaches 27,200 feet (8,300 meters) before giving up. Success is achieved on the South Col route when Hisahi Ishiguro and Yasuo Kato reach the summit, the first post-monsoon success on the mountain.
1974: Spanish Expedition attempts the South Col route. A high camp is placed on the SE Ridge, and twice teams were in position for a summit attempt, but both times are defeated by high winds. The second summit team manages to reach 27,900 feet (8,500 meters) before retreating.
1974: French West Ridge Expedition. Led by Gerald Devouassoux, a post- monsoon attempt to climb the West Ridge Direct starting from the Lho La. Because of political considerations, they don't climb the slopes leading up to the Lho La directly, but start from the base of the Khumbu Icefall; the expedition eventually reaches the West Shoulder by September 9. A major lapse in monitoring weather reports prevents them from learning that an unexpected return of warm monsoon weather is about to occur. The tragic result is that Gerald Devouassoux and five Sherpas are swept away in an immense avalanche, after which the expedition is called off.
1975: Japanese Ladies Expedition led by Mrs Eiko Hisana. On May 16 Junko Tabei of Japan became the first woman to reach the summit via the South-East Ridge.
1975: Chinese Expedition led
by Shih Chan-chun, leader of the 1960 Chinese ascent, and organized by a "Party
Committee" that included Wang Fu-chou, one of the 1960 summiters. A military-style
expedition that uses soldiers to carry supplies to the North Col and siege tactics
to progressively reposition camps higher and higher up the mountain. A final
assault camp is established between the First and Second Steps at 28,500 feet
(8,680 meters) by the Mushroom Rock, and the Second Step is prepared with an
aluminum ladder to overcome the final vertical headwall pitch. A team of nine
climbers - eight
1975: British SW Face Expedition (post-monsoon). Leader Chris Bonington and including H. MacInnes, Peter Boardman, Martin Boysen, P. Braithwaite, Micke Burke, M. Cheney, C. Clarke, Nick Estcourt, Dougal Haston, and Doug Scott. Base Camp is reached on August 22 and Advance Base is established on September 2. The expedition is blessed with good weather and smooth logistics, resulting in the steady placement of camps up the Central Gully to Camp 5 at 25,500 feet (7800 meters). The Rock Band is ascended via a gully on the left side by Estcourt and Braithwaite, who have some sporty moments when their oxygen runs out on dicey pitches at 27,000 feet (8200 meters). The upper icefield is reached via an awkward outward-sloping ramp; Haston and Scott establish Camp 6 a few days later at an elevation of 27,300 feet (8300 meters). The next day they fix 1,500 feet of rope on the upper snowfield, extending the route towards a gully leading up to the South Summit.
If you're a devoted Mallory and Irvine fan, please visit my Mallory and Irvine forum.
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
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.