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
Photoanalysis in the Mystery of Mallory & Irvine
Here is an updated orthomap of the North Face of Mt. Everest where I have sketched in magenta where I think Xu Jing's descent route was based on his latest interview in Tatort Mount Everest: Der Fall Mallory. I have also included the original and updated locations of Irvine's body according to Tom Holzel's recent photoanalysis - the green line is Holzel's presumed Xu Jing descent route. The blue line is the modern route, and you can see on the left a red route. In the older literature this was called Longland's Traverse, and is the known ascent route of Chhiring Dorje Sherpa, who also saw an old body n 1995. So do the two body locations agree? Only where Xu Jing and Chhiring Dorje's routes coincided. This would be in the area I've labelled with a question mark, at the end of the my magenta descent route for Xu Jing.
In 2001 after the release of Detectives on Everest, I constructed an orthomap of the North Face of Mt. Everest where I have added the locations of all known artifacts and camps associated with the mystery (except for the 1924 Camp 6 which is off the map to the east - or left - at 26,700'). By tracing the fall line back up from Mallory's grave, the approximate location of his fall can be estimated, somewhere in the Yellow Band between 8300 and 8400 meters - the same area that Xu Jing in 1960 may have passed through while taking his direct line back from Camp 7 (see Detectives on Everest for more details). Please note that the orthomap that I used to mark the locations is from Alpine Research and you can purchase this map here.
Jochen Hemmleb displayed a 1:1000 scale orthomap of the North Face of Mt. Everest at the Detectives on Everest Exhibit at the Washington State Historical Museum in Tacoma, WA. Hemmleb meticlulously recorded on this map the locations of all search areas, camps, and artifacts located in 1999 and 2001. I took these somewhat blurry images with my digital camera that can be viewed here: map01, map02, map03, map04. Please note that the jpegs of Hemmleb's map are public domain because cameras were allowed at the exhibit. The 1:1000 scale map was obtained by Hemmleb from Alpine Research.
A reconstruction of Jochen Hemmleb's Photoanalysis used to help locate the 1975 Chinese Camp 6 (it turned out to predict a location that was too high but was good enough to find the "English Dead". Compare to Tom Holzel's analysis in the next paragraph). Please note that the orthomap that I used to recreate the analysis is from Alpine Research and you can purchase this map here. The photo of the Chinese Camp 6 was scanned from Ghosts of Everest
Tom Holzel has given his permission to display a jpeg of his search area for Sandy Irvine that he constructed back in 1999. Holzel's approach was to track the movements of a party of Chinese climbers in 1975 who were pinned down by a storm on their way to the final location of the 1975 Chinese Camp 6. Holzel calls this intermediate camp "5b", and he believes that this is the camp that Wang was in when he located the "English Dead". Comparison of this Camp 5b with Jochen's orthomap indicates that Camp 5b was probably at the same position as the 1960 Chinese Camp 6.
Is that an extra pair of goggles Mallory's holding in this famous North Col photo taken by Noel Odell, or is it a gauge used in the oxygen apparatus? I believe it's actually the gauge based on this quote from Odell's appendix on the use of oxygen in "Fight for Everest 1924":
Did this mitten found on the NE Ridge in 2001 belong to either Mallory or Irvine? Jochen Hemmleb of the 2001 Mallory & Irvine Research Expedition thinks it's likely. Compare it to this photo of 1924 porters scanned from Last Climb: The Legendary Everest Expeditions of George Mallory.
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.