Being as familiar with the mystery as I am there wasn’t much history I wasn’t already aware of. Most people watching this film, however, probably don’t have any background on Mallory and his three attempts to be the first to stand on the top of Mount Everest. The film did a fine job of painting Mallory as the driven, talented, and conflicted person he was. The film was part historical documentary, part cinematic re-enactment, and part modern-day replication. It alternates between Mallory’s summit bids and Conrad Anker and Leo Holding’s summit attempt under the same conditions and (mostly) using the 1924 era equipment Mallory and Irvine used.
There are a number of theories as to exactly what happened on that day in 1924, as many of them include Mallory and Irvine reaching the summit as do not, and Anker also has his own opinions. He’s convinced that Mallory survived the fall and placed his good leg over his bad leg, expiring shortly thereafter from exposure. There are competing theories as to the actual cause of death (Mallory had a hole in his head which might have been caused by a kickback from his ice axe or an impact on a rock) and whether or not he was even conscious when he came to rest on the north face of Everest. Anker is an experienced climber who’s summited Everest and, don’t forget, he found Mallory. His opinion is as good or better than any. Anker stops short of claiming he believes the pair successfully summited the mountain but he entertains that it’s definitely possible they had the ability to, given they retained their strength and frame of mind. Continue reading →
On June 8, 1924 British mountain climber George Mallory, along with his young climbing partner Andrew “Sandy” Irvine, disappeared during their attempt to be the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Twenty nine years later Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay successfully conquered the summit of Everest and are considered to be the first to have scaled the peak of the world’s tallest mountain.
There is, however, rampant speculation that George Mallory and Sandy Irvine were actually the first to reach the summit, although no conclusive evidence has been discovered to prove it. They carried with them a camera that some believe might hold the proof of their ascent to the top of the world but it has yet to be recovered. This story remains to this day one of mountaineering’s greatest mysteries, still hotly debated amongst mountaineering circles some eighty years later.
An expedition was mounted in 1999 to search for Mallory and Irvine’s remains and to hopefully recover the camera that might solve this mystery. They were unable to locate Irvine’s body but they did locate George Mallory. He was discovered face down at about 27,500 feet on the North Face of Everest. He’d fallen at some point during the descent, severely breaking his right leg in two places, injuring his shoulder, breaking an arm, and suffering what appeared to be a fatal blow to the forehead. A broken length of rope was found tied around his torso and his ribs were fractured and his torso bruised beneath the rope. As he fell it appears the rope caught on something solid before it broke, subsequently sealing his fate. It’s assumed he was roped to Irvine when he fell but it’s virtually impossible to know for sure.
He didn’t fall far though; his body did not show the severe and significant injury that others had who’d fallen long distances on Everest did. Regardless of distance his fall was, nonetheless, fatal. Although Irvine’s remains were not found in 1999 it is believed that someone from a Chinese expedition may have spotted him in 1960 lying on his back between two large rocks. However, even recent attempts to find Irvine’s body and recover any artifacts and/or proof of a summit have been unsuccessful. It’s not impossible that the two fell together; Mallory coming to a stop and Irvine continuing to fall much, much further. Continue reading →