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  Mallory and Irvine The Final Chapter: The Second Attempt to Search for Mallory and Irvine

By Tom Holzel                                 Continuing on from...

In 1986, tired of exhorting others to search for the two climbers, I launched my own expedition. I devised a search plan based on Wang Hung-bao’s description of where, in 1975, he had discovered the “English dead.”  Wang’s description was relayed to me on Valentine’s day, 1980 by Hiroyuki Suzuki, Foreign Secretary of the Japanese Alpine Club:

On October 12 [1979] our reconnoitring party tried to reach North Col when an avalanche occurred at 2.12 p.m. at the height of 6850m [22,500 feet] under the North Col. It is regret to say that three Chinese were swept down by the avalanche and fell into a deep crevasse. Three Chinese died. Among them there was Mr Wang Kow Po who had climbed North Col five times and reached to 8000m [26,250 feet] high.

The day before Mr Wang's accident, Mr Wang told Mr R. Hasegawa, one of our Japanese members, that he had seen two deads in 1974 when he had participated as a member in Chinese Expedition to Mt. Everest.

He had seen one of them near side-moraine under C-3 [Camp III] in the East Rongbuk Glacier and another at 8100m [26,575 feet] high on the Northeast Ridge route. He could not speak English but he repeated a word just “English, English” to Mr Hasegawa.

The first one might be Wilson. Who was the second who had been at 8100m? When he touched the clothes of the dead at 8100m, the clothes had been broken to pieces and blown off by wind. Then he put snow on the dead and buried him. Mr Hasegawa asked Mr Wang if he [the body] might be a Russian. Mr Wang denied and told any Russians didn't come to such a high place.

Mr Hasegawa says Mr Wang was honest, native and rather taciturn. Mr Wang died. Mr Hasegawa rues he should ask more details from Mr Wang. In the last meeting of expedition members, they were asked to find not only cameras but a dead who slept at 8100m.[1]

Other research indicated that Wang’s bivouac tent site was a bit higher than 8100m, and it was also unlikely that anyone would go for a walk toward the Mallory fall-line across a cliff face. So I placed it at 8150 which would let him mosey out across the broad terrace which I called the 8200m Snow Terrace. The intersection of his probable tent site with the fall line gave the search zone.

Because the ice ax above the fall line had been identified as belonging to Andrew Irvine, everyone was expecting the body Wang discovered to be his. When Mallory was discovered at the site instead—to much astonishment—the next question out of everybody’s mouth was: “But where’s Irvine.”

[1] Hiroyuki Suzuki to Tom Holzel, February 7th, 1980.

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