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

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1933: The Fourth British Expedition. A new generation of climbers attempts Everest under the Leadership of Hugh Ruttledge. These new climbers include Jack Longland, Frank Smythe, Eric Shipton, P. Wyn Harris, and L.R. Wager. Along with a powerful and spirited team of Sherpa "Tigers", Camp 6 is established on a ledge half-way up the Yellow Band at a height of 27,300 feet (8320 meters) - the Sherpas wanted to continue higher to a campsite at the base of the First Step, but it is wisely decided that they would not get back to the North Col before dark. Longland leads the Sherpas back down, but they are caught in a fierce and unexpected storm. Longland manages to keep his bearings and keeps the party en route down the spine of the North Arete. During the descent they discover the remains of the 1924 Camp 6, and even find a working battery-operated torch in the debris.

May 30th: The first oxygenless summit attempt by Wyn Harris and Wager. Their plan is to reconnoiter Mallory's ridge route, and if not feasible, attempt Norton's Great Couloir route instead. Early in the ascent they find Andrew Irvine's ice ax at 27,690 feet (8440 meters), some 250 yards (meters) east of the First Step. The pair continues traversing below the NE Ridge, but are unable to gain the Ridge via a shallow gully below the Second Step, having missed their only chance to gain the Ridge by ascending a 4th class gully on the north side of the First Step. They continue traversing into and across the Great Couloir, and manage to reach Norton's high point before admitting defeat.

June 1st: A second oxygenless attempt is made by Eric Shipton and Frank Smythe. In a truly superhuman effort, they make an attempt after spending two nights in the Death Zone without oxygen waiting for good weather. They follow essentially the same ascending line taken by Wyn Harris and Wager to the base of the First Step, but continue along Norton's traversing Great Couloir route. Shipton is forced to give up a little past the First Step, and Smythe continues alone, crossing the Great Couloir somewhat lower down than his predecessors where the ledges were more favorable. Smythe too gives up at Norton's high point, so the 1933 Expedition ends up unsuccessful.

1934: The eccentric Maurice Wilson attempts to solo Everest, having no mountaineering experience but possessing an inner faith to succeed. Camped at the base of the North Col, Wilson asks his Sherpas to wait ten days for him to return, after which they would be free to leave. He doesn't return, so the Sherpas return to Darjeeling, where Tenzing Norgay reports seeing them with large amounts of money. Wilson's body is later found at approximately 21,000 feet (6400 meters) below the North Col by members of the 1935 Reconnaissance Expedition. He was found in the remains of his tent; apparently he had died while in the act of taking off his boots. How far did he get? No one knows... His body was buried in a crevasse and it periodically resurfaces over the years as the East Rongbuk Glacier continues its steady advance downhill.

1935: Fifth British Expedition (Reconnaissance). A small post-monsoon expedition led by Eric Shipton, that was Tenzing Norgay's first trip to the mountain as a young porter. Expedition members include Bill Tilman, Dr. C.B.M. Warren, E.G.H. Kempson, L.V. Bryant, and E.H.L. Wigram. The expedition concentrates on exploring, surveying, and climbing in the Everest region (where off in the distance they can see that Everest is in perfect condition to climb). The party doesn't reach Rongbuk until early July, where coated in monsoon snow, the mountain is out of condition to climb. Nevertheless, since investigating the possibility of a post-monsoon attempt is one of the charges of the reconnaissance, they establish Camp III at the base of the North Col, where they find the remains of Maurice Wilson. On July 12 they reach the North Col with enough supplies for two weeks. Continuous monsoon snows prevent any further advance up the mountain, so the expedition splits into several groups that engage in an orgy of climbing and exploring in the region before returning to Darjeeling.

1936: Sixth British Expedition with Hugh Ruttledge returning as Leader. Also returning to Everest are Frank Smythe, Eric Shipton, P. Wyn Harris, E.G.H. Kempson, Dr. C.B.M. Warren, and E.H.L. Wigram along with two newcomers, P.R. Oliver and J.M.L. Gavin. Tenzing Norgay returns for his second expedition as a porter. For the first time, lightweight radio sets are taken to Everest. A large, strong, and experienced expedition with many hopes of reaching the top, it failed because of the early onset of the monsoon on May 25th. Interestingly enough, the only two expeditions to Everest that had a late monsoon were the '21 and '35 Reconnaissance!

1938: Seventh British Expedition. Led by Bill Tilman who advocated smaller, less expensive expeditions (although he is convinced to bring four oxygen sets along). Accompanying Tilman are Eric Shipton, Frank Smythe, C.B.M. Warren, P. Floyd, P.R. Oliver, and Noel Odell from the tragic 1924 expedition. Odell is now 47 years old, but extremely fit after climbing Nanda Devi in 1936 with Tilman. Returning yet again as a porter is the persistent Tenzing Norgay. Remembering the early onset of the monsoon suffered by the 1936 expedition, they arrive at Rongbuk early on April 6th and surprisingly find the mountain already clear of winter snow. Three weeks later Camp III is established below the North Col, but the weather is too cold and the party too ill to continue. They retreat to the Kharta Valley to recuperate at the lower altitude. When they returned to Everest a week later, the monsoon had unbelievably broken on May 5th and the mountain was covered in snow. Nevertheless a camp is placed on the North Col, and then Camp 6 is established on a scree slope below the Yellow Band at 27,200 feet (8290 meters). In back-to-back assaults, Smythe and Shipton are turned back by the deep snow, as are Tilman and Lloyd the next day. The expedition fails, but it had proved that a small expedition could place climbers in position for a serious summit bid.

1947: A successor to the old Everest Committee is formed - the Himalayan Committee of the Alpine Club and Royal Geographical Society.

1947: Canadian-born Brit Earl Denman attempts to illegally climb Everest from the North along with Sherpas Ang Dawa and Tenzing Norgay, the latter back after nine years for his fourth attempt on the mountain. After nearly being arrested by a Tibetan patrol en route, the trio reach the Rongbuk Monastery. Using Denman's woefully inadequate equipment, and suffering terribly from the cold, they reach the foot of the North Col but in a terribly weakened condition. After a feeble attempt on the lower slopes of the Col, they admit defeat and turn back. Denman is forced to walk part of the way back to Darjeeling in bare feet after his boots wear out. Amazingly the whole 600-plus mile (1000 km) roundtrip from Darjeeling to Everest and back took only five weeks by foot.

1950: In October the Communist Chinese invade Tibet, and Tibet falls under Chinese rule. Everest expeditions from the North are prohibited.

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News

If you're a devoted Mallory and Irvine fan, please visit my Mallory and Irvine forum.

New articles!

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!

Spring 2013

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.

Fall 2011

The politics of Mallory and Irvine continues - the British climbing establishment is quiet about Hemmleb's search but Holzel's is roundly condemned.

Spring 2011

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.

Fall 2010

Who owns the camera? Who has the copyright to any images? Read these great articles on Tom Holzel's website.

Attention searchers! - Tom Holzel tells you how to handle the film

Did bad weather seal M&I's Fate? A recent article based on the actual weather conditions on June 8th, 1924, and Graham Hoyland's involvement with it.

Jake Norton - outstanding M&I theorist and historian. Read his blog here, and his three part theory of how M&I could have made the summit!

>> Spring 2004
>> Spring 2006
>> Fall 2006
>> Spring 2007
>> Summer 2008
>> Spring 2009
>> Summer 2009
>> Fall 2009
>> Winter 2010
>> Spring 2010
>> Fall 2010


 

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Articles and Editorials

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.

Part 1: the ascent
Part 2: the descent

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:

Mallory's Watch - Does it Really Point to 12:50 PM?

1924 Oxygen by Richard McQuet and Pete Poston

Why the Camera and Film are not Doomed to Destruction!

The Politics of Mallory and Irvine

Why Andrew Irvine Will Not be Found in a Sleeping Bag! Part 1 and Part 2 on ExplorersWeb

Chomolungma Nirvana: The Routes of Mount Everest

Rust Marks on Mallory's Altimeter

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 --

The Mystery of Mallory and Irvine's Fate (with J. Hemmleb): Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

Mallory and Irvine - Comments on the 'real Second Step' route: Part 1 and Part 2

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 --

Spilling the Beans - Lino Lacedelli's Book "Price of Conquest: Confessions from the First Ascent of K2" Part 1 and Part 2

The Life and Climbs of Chris Bonington, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 final - interview

About Me

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.