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  Mallory and Irvine The Final Chapter: The retrieval of the camera


In Spring 2004, EverestNews.com plans to lead an expedition to find "the camera"; the camera may hold photographs which could solve the mystery of Mallory and Irvine's summit attempt on Mt. Everest in 1924.

A Q&A to attempt to answer some of the questions....

Q.  How sure are you that there really is a camera up there?

A.  Expedition members all assert that Mallory & Irvine took at least two cameras. Somervell stated he loaned Mallory his own Kodak VPK camera.  Both climbers took many photographs, and Mallory in particular wanted more than anything to be photographed standing on the summit, showing his 30,000-ft altimeter.

Q. But even if its found, won’t the film be hopelessly fogged by cosmic rays at that altitude?

A. Modern film would be, but the B&W film Mallory & Irvine used was sensitive only to blue and green visible light.  Eastman Kodak scientists have researched the subject extensively and believe if the film is found intact, “printable images could result.”

Q. Is the camera in one of the locations many have speculated recently?

A. We believe the camera is high on Everest in an area never searched before. To our knowledge, there have been no theories as to this location where we believe the camera is located.

Q. What new evidence do you have?

A. We have collected much new evidence, as well as statements from a number of climbers over the last 2-3 years. We have studied the evidence and we feel that the location of Howard Somervell's camera is locatable with an expedition to Everest.

Q. What will you do with the camera?

A. We plan to put the camera in the hands of a museum. We do not plan to sell it...

Q. Who will go on the expedition?

A. Tom West of EverestNews.com, will be at base camp during the expedition. Tom Holzel and Thom Pollard are advisors to the expedition, however they do not plan to travel to Nepal.

Q. What if others want to join your team?

A. We would consider the help of others, however we do not want to be responsible for others. This expedition has a clear, single purpose and we want to keep it that way. We want no other agendas or goals for the expedition. We have a clear, defined direction and location for the search. We have no plans to go in other directions or search any other locations.

Q. Will you offer treks to base camp on the Expedition?

A. No, No and definitely No. We are NOT in the expedition business.

Q. Have you spoken to the family? Do they support your efforts.

A. We have spoken to John Irvine and informed him or our plans and brief findings; We even asked him for a recommendation of what to do. We will let John speak for himself.

Q. What about Sandy (Andrew “Sandy” Irvine)?

A. We plan to let Sandy rest in peace.

Q. Do you plan to photograph the body and bring back Sandy personal artifacts from the body?

A. No. We have no plans to bring back Sandy's personal artifacts from the body, nor do we currently plan to photograph the body. Our advisors are recommending we take photographs for purely forensic reasons—to help determine what happened to the pair, and the cause of death. However, at this point we don't plan to photograph the body.

Q. What if the family asks you to bring back his personal items?

A. We will deal with that then, but we have no plans to retrieve anything except Howard Somervell's camera.

Q. Have you spoken to Eric Simonson?

A. We speak to Eric and his wife regularly. We have the highest level of respect for Eric and Erin Simonson. They are aware of our plans.

Q. What about those who do not want the camera found?

A. Have they seen how many climbers are on Everest these days? With the huge numbers of climbers on mountain each season, it is only a matter of time before, someone finds it.  We feel it is better for it to be found by those who will deal with the issues respectfully, than by someone who is only interested in making a lurid fast buck.

Q. What about the "other cameras"?

A. What is the count up to now?  We believe the best evidence is that Howard Somervell's camera is lost on Mount Everest... Could they have been carrying as many as 3 cameras?  They were very weight conscious, leaving much gear behind at their last camp.  While possible, it seems very unlikely.

Q. What about any possible picture?

A. That’s what it’s all about.  What if the last picture shows the third step of Everest, much like the Chinese film of 1960? Then what? Did they make it or not?  Maybe that is what is meant to be...

Q. What are the chances you will find the camera?

A. We are quite confident in finding the location of Sandy Irvine. We believe the camera is near.

Q. Why EverestNews.com?

A. We have turned over much evidence that we have uncovered over the years to others, usually with strange reactions. There is something about this mystery that seems to cause rational people to act strangely. We discussed the idea of EverestNews.com leading the search with several people we respect over the last several months. They supported the idea and thought we were the right people to do the job.... So here we go...

Q. Will you reveal the location of Sandy Irvine to others?

A. No, we hope to respect the family's wishes to let Sandy rest in peace. We will say, if Sandy is where we believe he is, he won't have many visitors....

Q. Would finding the camera "critically alter the history of exploration and mountaineering"?

A. Yes and no. Clearly, they did not come down alive... Any photographs could very well still be equivocal.  But they should show the highest point they reached.  Even if that isn’t the summit, the photos will be like a momentary time machine, giving us a view of a glorious and tragic moment in mountaineering history.

Q. Do you think they made it to the top?

A. We don't know... That’s why we are searching. The evidence today is they were last seen “going strong for the top.”

Q. How will you be funded?

A. We do need additional funding. Today we are a privately funded expedition.  Several corporate sponsors have expressed interest.

Q. What if others find the camera first?

A. Then the mystery will be solved sooner. We are not in a race, nor will we be. The safety of our climbers comes first, Everest is a very dangerous place. People die every year climbing Everest. Anyone attempting to race will demonstrate that their interest lies in dollars, not in history.  But they won’t know where to look.

Q. Would you sell the rights to the camera in order to get money to fund the expedition?

A. It is not ours to sell...

 
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