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  Mallory and Irvine The Final Chapter:  Q&A January 2005 Part Four


We have received hundreds of e-mails on the Mallory and Irvine Story. Many are very interesting. We think you will enjoy many of them.

There will not be any more Q&A's on M&I until after the Spring season... We have much to do.

©EverestNews.com

Q. I like your theories.  I have just one question. If Sandy would have waited while George went to the summit, wouldn't George be carrying the camera?  Or is there no camera?

A. EverestNews.com: One can only speculate and as we have discussed no one knows with any certainty if they had a camera with them.

Q. The eye-witnesses to the body have said that the skin was blackened.

A. EverestNews.com: None of them said that to us. But does it matter?

Q. [Question continued]: Would seem that Irvine died slowly and was not prepared for the cold.

A. EverestNews.com: ??? got us. He died, that is clear. Does how long it took him to die help us explain what happened?? Clearly no one knows how long it took him to die.

Q. Is it possible that someone could find artifacts on a fall line?

A. EverestNews.com: Sure it is possible. It might be possible to find the whole body on the fall line. If you determine where the fall line was. Certainly there are those trying to figure that out right now. But the fall line is not for those who are weak of heart. Getting climbers to search those falls line will be difficult. Some might go watch others try (as was the case in 2004), but we doubt you will see many try. As far as we know, we have been the only climbers up on the real steep area.

Q. I know the supposed location of Irvine's body will not be publicly

disclosed for quite some time, if ever... but by looking at the photos which were published here on this site you can infer that a lot of the

searching/looking took place on the Ridge route and off of it! That tells you indirectly where Irvine's body was last seen.

 

A. EverestNews.com: True.

 

Q. All of these points have ONE thing in common...Things were found on the mountain and removed by person or persons unknown. Not removed to hurt people but because of ignorance of the importance of the artifacts. Not knowing of the huge mystery that would 75 years later envelope Mallory & Irvine's last climb. So, what was found? What was removed? Where was it removed from? Where is it today? Are there pictures of these objects?

A. EverestNews.com: Xu told us the Chinese removed items from the mountain to study them.

Q. I have been following the mailbags and dispatches religiously. Have come to the conclusion that the e-news crew did find some new artifacts, at the very least.  

Q. Why would anybody "camp out" in an exposed position, on a snow bank-slab, when there should have been plenty of time to find a covered position supposedly waiting for Mallory to return?

A. EverestNews.com: Well when you are dieing and out of gas on a climb. You don’t always act like normal, not that many climbers act *normal* at 8000 meters. Most will tell you they are at their limit. For example, we could show you video this year of a climber who ran out of Oxygen. He is DEAD, right there, unless that Sherpa changes the bottle for him. He could not have unzipped his jacket by himself.  Other climbers, of course, are much stronger and can summit without oxygen, Sherpas, can now run up and down Everest....

And of course some climbers are going to react between the two ….

Now if anyone can tell you for sure how Sandy would have reacted, RUN….

But the evidence in the form of eyewitnesses says he died on the ridge…. If our physical evidence will turn out to be Sandy's is still a question.

You might note a few other dead bodies (with down suits) are on the Ridge. Sandy appears to be the first but certainly not the last to die on the ridge of Everest.

There are not "covered positions" up on the ridge.

Q. Where are Mallory's bottles? Where is Mallory's oxygen rack?

A. EverestNews.com: Yes! Now there are questions we would ask!

Those are questions that NEED answered. They don't appear to be anywhere close to where his body was found. There is no major damage to his body, as if he fell down the mountain and the bottles were ripped off. So where are they?

Q. Thanks for your reply.  When I sent my original email to you, my phone line went dead.  I did not know if you had gotten it.  And you did. After no phone service here for about 2 weeks, after new years I was able to get online last week.  I knew I would see another "readers mailbag" but I was blown away by the Xu Interviews and the End of the Search Updates..!!! That is something I did not expect.  What a story..!!  It never ends.

First thanks for the reply.  Now new questions:  What of the glass object found at the Irvine site? 

 

Could not Irvine be the first to die of HAPE, HACE, etc. on Everest?  If the Chinese took the M & I O2 bottles from M & I's camp VI, I wonder if anybody bothered to count them?  (Did the English take an inventory in 1933 when they returned?)

 

These comments come to mind after reading the last postings:  1.)  Did Wang have the ice axe on him?  This is really a magic bullet to the theories.  2.) It seems that with two bottles only found on the

north face ridge leading to the steps, then they might be only the bottles Irvine carried up.  Where are Mallory's?  He could really

have made the summit now.  3.) Tom Hotzel must be really

happy now that his theory is verified by Xu.  (He stated that Wang really found Mallory.) 

 

Please keep up the continued updates.  They are great reading.

"You have all done very well" as Mr. Grace would say.

 

Do not pick up any stray jaw bones.

A. EverestNews.com: The above question is multi faceted, let us break it down into bite sized pieces.

a.) The glass object.

A. EverestNews.com: It is a piece of glass that looks round. We wish we knew more.

b.) Could not Irvine be the first to die of HAPE, HACE, etc. on Everest?

A. EverestNews.com: Yes, but he could have died from other reasons too.

c.) To: did Wang have the ice axe on him?  This is really a magic bullet to the theories.

A. EverestNews.com: WOW! We have no idea, but we certainly don't have any information that he did at this point.

c.) To: It seems that with two bottles only found on the north face ridge leading to the steps, then they might be only the bottles Irvine carried up.  Where are Mallory's?

A. EverestNews.com: Interesting. Where are Mallory's?  Suppose they might have been left higher up or on a different way down? Suppose?

d. ) To: He could really have made the summit now. 

 

A. EverestNews.com: It is possible.

 

e.) To Tom Hotzel must be really happy now that his theory is verified by Xu.  (He stated that Wang really found Mallory.) 

A. EverestNews.com: Tom, Happy? He gets really pissed when you misspell his name, so now you have done it!

Q. I absolutely agree with you that exact numbers of altitude are of secondary importance (and matters of posture minor at best). They and their differences should not dim the exciting perception that the evolution of theories is in a phase of major changes. Learning that Mr. Xu confirmed your source's information that Irvine had died high on the northeast ridge, I knew that the theory of "falling roped together" once and for all was dead and done. No need of fussing about precise numbers. The big picture is surprisingly clear.

A. EverestNews.com: The big picture does look clear. And now it is time to zoom in on George's route.

Q. Having now read Q&A 3 (for which many thanks) I'm happy to let Sandy and the axe rest in peace for now. One day I expect you will be able to be more precise about the location, but I'm satisfied if your people think the locations of the body and the axe are consistent with the theory.

I agree on the big picture - but I always have! I said in an email months back that the location of George's body, the lack of damage and the goggles were very strong evidence to the theory that the only way he could have got there was via the summit, and that the thing to look for now was some Mallory artefacts.

The extraordinary thing about the whole story is that it has become more compelling with each new discovery - your "final chapter" has just proved to be a cliff-hanger for the next. One day, when your researches are more conclusive - which I'm betting they will be in time - someone will make a great Hollywood movie of this. I should make sure you have (c) notices on all your published material!

When will the next climbing be, and do you still have a lot of work to do on the film you took?

A. EverestNews.com: We will be supporting climbers on the mountain again this Spring in search of answers. Do you want to help too?

Q. I just wanted to share a thought with you on the ice axe location. As you rightly say, it's location is not proven. However, the account of Hugh Ruttledge in 'Everest 1933', which was published in October 1934, puts the location 'about 60 feet below the crest of the ridge and 250 yards east of the first step'. This is probably as close to a contemporaneous witness statement which is available since one would hope that Ruttledge consulted with Wager and Wyn Harris in indicating this location.

A. EverestNews.com: Yes, but most probably Sandy’s…. 

Q. You have five different reports of a body on the ridge, albeit not all in the same location which is perhaps understandable. 

The real curiosity for me, though, is why Wager and Wyn Harris didn't find Irvine's body too.

They must have been looking for signs of Mallory and Irvine as they went. Having found the axe, it would be surprising if they had not conducted at least a cursory search of the environs, looking around them to see if they could spot anything else which might explain the reason for the axe being there. They did not have time to carry out a more detailed search of the area, having their own priorities. In 'Everest 1933', it simply says 'the climbers left the axe lying where they found it, and proceeded upwards to the foot of the first step.....'

I wondered if you had any thoughts on why Wager and Wyn Harris might have found the axe but not the body.

A. EverestNews.com: Because they were not on the Ridge of Everest which is where the body was according to at least 5 climbers.

Q. Greetings. I am very new to the whole mountain  climbing/adventure thing. I'm very interested in the George Mallory mystery, and I've done some reading on the subject. I wanted to comment on one of the theories I read on this fine site. One thing that makes me wonder: If George Mallory was boosted by Irvine up the 2nd step, leaving Irvine behind to dutifully wait, wouldn't George Mallory have had a camera on his body when it was found? I know it's possible that it dislodged from his pocket during his fatal fall, but from what I understand about the condition of his body, there's no way he fell a great body-mangling distance. So the chances of the camera being dropped would be lessened considerably.

From everything I've read about what they say about George Mallory's temperament, there's not much chance he would have gone on to the summit without a camera to show Britain and the world in general. I understand Irvine had his own camera as well for his fatal ascent. If so, there's no reason to think Mallory would have given his friend's borrowed camera to Irvine, leaving Irvine with two cameras and a nice view of the wall of the second step. I don't think there's a clear line of sight to the summit when faced with the rock wall of the second step. I could easily be wrong though.

This is a fascinating mystery that I pray will be resolved during my lifetime. I personally believe Mallory did in fact summit the world that day. Maybe I just want to believe it, as it's a poignant thought. His courage makes one almost forced to believe it.

It's a great mystery. With how carefully he had his personal letters wrapped in his cloth I find it impossible to believe he wouldn't have treated his camera, with summit photo inside to develop, with with extreme care. With the short distance his body fell, it's hard to believe his camera tore loose yet his altimeter, sungoggles, meat lozenges, personal letters, all remained in place. Anyways thanks for reading. truly yours,

A. EverestNews.com: Rather than try to explain climbers again! Let's look at Xu. Xu had a Leica. Xu was attempting to be the first to summit the North side just like George. Xu had more help and much greater supplies. What did he do to with it?

“By this stage we had ditched a lot of stuff, including my camera, which was a good one, a Leica – something I regret because we should have taken pictures up there to prove we were there. I’ll know the next time!” Xu

Another interesting point. Our interviewer wondered about this Leica question. You see a Leica was a very costly camera. Would Xu had ditched it? Did he really had a Leica, our interviewed wondered.

We have found a picture with Xu and the Leica on Everest. So yes Xu had a Leica. Checking facts, rechecking facts, it takes time....

The man still has the fever! "I’ll know the next time!” Xu

Q. I have little doubt, after reading nearly all the books on this subject, that George Mallory did summit on the June 8, 1924 day.

There are some that question his climbing ability, yet his peers judge him as one of the best climbers of that time. George was a veteran of the mountain and would have been well acclimated. When his body was found there was no picture of his wife on him. This is a key piece of evidence. The Picture was well documented and he would have had it in a place the would have been safe until he summited. After reading nearly everything on the subject and have no doubt that he summited

 

Q. Some has stated that your theory has Sandy perishing near the ridge between the 1st and 2nd steps. I have read (several times) most all of the information on your site and only see the reference to Sandy's former location (assuming the snow slab gave way) as being above 8400 meters on or very near the ridge.

Is there a place on your site where you state this or they simply wrong, with their understanding of English not good?

A. EverestNews.com: You are reading our site correctly. They are simply wrong.

Q. One guy claims there is not snow on the Kangshung face side of the ridge of Everest... Can you explain?

A. EverestNews.com: Maybe they are drinking too much Tang?

Are these the same people who were spreading the rumors that Xu was almost dead in a hospital when we asked for questions from our readers? Well you figure out if Xu is dead or in the hospital.

Xu Jing©EverestNews.com

For the snow, you can clearly see in the many pictures we have published where the snow piles. In speaking with veteran climber and Expedition leader Gary Pfisterer one day (his teams has summited Everest, K2, Makalu, Kangchenjunga, etc.), he gave us this explanation on why it piles there.

"The snow settles to the east of the ridge because the prevailing winds blow from the west.  This is the same reason it settles heavily on the Kangchang face as this face is in the lee (the side the wind does not hit) of the mountain. If you ever notice in photos of Everest, when the mountain has a plume on it it is always blowing out to the east.  The jet stream also blows from the west in the higher elevations (mostly above 8000m)." Gary Pfisterer

Q Stiff Upper Lips and the British Bulldog

The M&I mystery is just great stuff!  It is difficult to imagine anything so tantalizing as this story.

My position is now as it always has been, Mallory summated the mountain.  I am basing this on few facts, some reasoned deduction for experts and on the simple fact that he was British.  That is was 1924 adds some weight to the Britishness angle. 

Consider this.  The British have long held a reputation for being, well, conservative with a small ‘c’.  There is a certain modesty, a restraint to our conduct.  In the 1930’s, this code was still rigidly adhered to and things like honour, which we too readily dismiss today, were vitally important and had a certain currency.  In short, what a gentlemen sportsman said was generally what he would do.  George Leigh Mallory was clearly a man of repute, a worthy gentleman and supreme athlete.  As such, sportsman’s honour would have mattered a great deal to him.  To Sandy too.  They were both from the north of England, like me, and there is undoubtedly a stubbornness that characterized northern spirit, allied to a sense of fair play and a preparedness for hard ‘graft’ (work).

If Mallory had said he was intending to leave a picture of his wife on the summit, he would have done exactly that.  I think there is no doubt that he would have done this.  That there is no picture of his wife anywhere in his remains points heavily to him having left it somewhere.  There is only one place he would have left it.  If we afford Mallory the character traits described in the previous chapter (and why not?), it is totally reasonable to assume that he achieved his goal.  Clearing the second step, he went for it and, digging deep into his northern, British, sportsman’s reserves, he ploughed on and deposited the image of his sweetheart on the summit.

The camera?  It’s with Sandy.  Mallory did not take it with him as he went alone.  With no tripod, how could he take a picture of himself?  No, there was no need for the camera; people would just have to believe him.  Do not dismiss this important point; it was acceptable at that time that if a gentlemen gave his word, it was as good as fact.  Mallory did not think twice about the need to evidence his achievement, he knew instinctively that others would believe him – it was the way things were done!

So, there it is.  Little more to add to the mystery, but what I argue here makes sense to me.  In a way, it is the idiosyncrasies of the British that goes a little way to explaining the ‘emotional’ side of the mystery.  If that sound winsome, fine.  I see no reason for Mallory not having an image of his wife on his person unless he unloaded it somewhere.  Other papers were in tact, the photo would have been as well.  Furthermore, it would have been safely tucked away, no doubt on an inner breast pocket and so could not have fluttered away in the winds. 

It seems plausible that Sandy played the ‘good soldier’, absolutely, and plausible that Mallory went for it and got there.  I concur with the view that they separated and Mallory came down through the couloir where he slipped and fell.  I once suffered a broken leg when I fell on some ice.  I simply fell awkwardly and landed on my leg which had folded beneath me.  It would have been easy to have belted my head off a rock as I fell.  This worries me as I fear the great man may have suffered, of that I am certain.

I make no apologies for sounding like some crazy old English nutter.  I hope nothing could be futher from the truth.  I am a middle-aged northerner with a passing interest in this mystery.  Being British and understanding a little about our strange ways, what I have said here will ring true to many Britons, whether they concur or not with my emotional angle.  Whatever!

A. EverestNews.com:

Sandy Irvine did his job, may he rest in peace.

As we stated before, the search for Sandy Irvine's body appears to be over.

It is now time to look for evidence of a Summit of Mt Everest by George Leigh Mallory.

Time to cut to the chase....

EverestNews.com: Thanks for all the e-mails and support. Feel free to submit your comments to and thank you for your support.

Dispatches

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