Continuing on from...
Now that Mallory had been
found, where is
Irvine? The question
seems simple enough. Some 30 feet of rope remaining on Mallory showed the two
were roped together—as would be expected when crossing the treacherous
slopes. Irvine’s body—and presumably the camera(s) the two are presumed to
have taken—should be either on Irvine or somewhere on Mallory’s fall line.
The clues to
Irvine’s location were
scouted out by Eric Simonson and Jochen Hemmleb. Simonson was the leader of
the 1999 expedition that discovered Mallory’s body. In an interview with
Everester Xu Jing, they learned that he had discovered a body during his 1960
climb. “The body was lying in a concave hollow or gully running down from the
ridge crest. Again, he mentioned that the body was in a sleeping bag, but
most of the bag was rotted away. The altitude, he now said, was 8300 meters
Simonson and Hemmleb put
Irvine’s body in an area
along his assumed descent path, but much higher than Mallory. (As it is
assumed Mallory was leading with some 100 feet of rope between them, from a
purely topographic viewpoint Irvine should be about that much more to the
right of Mallory’s fall line.
If correct, this location
gives rise to some interesting speculation. It means, first of all, that the
rope between the two climbers broke moments after the fall occurred. This
means it is possible that, unlike Mallory whose severe head injury killed him
Irvine was stopped much
earlier in the fall and may have survived. Because the location for Irvine
suggested by Xu is 100 to 200 yards to the left of Mallory’s fall line, it
further indicates that Irvine was able to struggle on towards their high
camp. If, as is supposed, the fall occurred because of the two-hour snow
squall, Irvine may still have been crawling towards his high camp during that
storm. When it blew over, Odell scanned the slopes for signs of his friends.
But by now, the stricken climber may have already sought shelter from the
paralyzing wind in a cleft in the rocks, a spot from which he never got up.
Irvine is found closer to
Mallory’s fall line, it would suggest that, like Mallory, he was incapacitated
by the fall over bare rocks. Indeed, stopping so high up indicates a sudden
slam into a rock ledge. He would have died where he fell to a stop.
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