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  Mallory and Irvine The Final Chapter: Mail Bag 1

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. Note we cannot answer all the e-mail/questions, but you will see some comments below...

Reader's Letter 1. Gentlemen, I think you have almost hit the nail right on the head. My biggest question was "why did George descend a different route than the one he took up"?

EverestNew.com: The theory assumes because he could not get down the way he went up.

Reader's letter 1 continued: I think he DID summit and realize that Sandy must have gone back to camp by now and he couldn't get down the Second Step by himself. That is why the different route down and that is why his body lies where it is at. I can see no other reason for that. Still there is more evidence to be found high on Everest. For instance, George's oxygen rig. He clearly had to have run out of O's. So, he naturally would have taken off and discarded his entire rig. If that is found someday above the Second Step or higher, then we can assume he DID make it. That would virtually be the clincher for me that he made the summit.

What other evidence is "possibly" being developed? Was there something on a photo or film that was taken that shows an artifact close to where the "old dead" was supposed to have been? And if so, then you are right because only another trip to Everest to recover the object, (if still there) could definitively answer that.

EverestNew.com: There is much work to do. We hope to expand on the work to be done soon.

Reader's letter 1 continued:  As for the rope around George's body when found, I have always doubted the assumption that Sandy and George were roped together. I mean, where is the slightest evidence that they were? None. It makes sense, however, if George had the rope to help descend the Second Step.

All this means is there is no camera with a photo of M&I on Everest, as Irvine did not go. The camera was not found on George, (which doesn't mean he didn't have it and it separated from the body during his short fall) I think that there are NO pictures whatsoever of George on the summit. So, we have to go with the preponderance of evidence. What makes sense and what doesn't. Your theory makes the most sense and answers virtually all of the questions that aligns with what evidence we have. You have done a fantastic job and all of the team is to be congratulated. 

If there is to be another expedition to Everest for that possible evidence, what could I do to help? If anything.

Reader's Letter 2. I realize this is not a likely scenario, due to the dynamics of leadership and their relative experience, but what is against the following scenario:

Mallory is struggling by the time they reach the second step, either general fatigue or some minor muscular injury. For this, or some other reason (Irvine's youthful vigor?) Mallory decides that Irvine might just be able to make it on his own and give Irvine the step up. Irvine does make it but falls on his descent to the point where he is found by the Chinese climber.

Mallory, as in your theory but with roles reversed, waits for Irvine then heads back for camp.

Against this I assume would be the axe, but for it would be the relative likelihood of their distance from camp - i.e. Mallory's position would appear to be more consistent with someone returning from waiting. Hard to believe that Irvine waited till he was totally exhausted then sat down and died without getting part way back to camp. 

I'm sure there are good reasons, other than just 'he was a better/senior climber' for your theory being more plausible. You have obviously researched

Mallory's character more than me and would be able to put some psychological depth to the likelihood or otherwise of this being correct.

Thanks for all the fascinating reports on this, one of the great unsolved mysteries of our time.

EverestNews.com: If Mallory's body was up high and Irvine was down low, we would agree with you. But of course, we now all know where Mallory's body is and if we assume that Irvine's body was up high based on the climbers statements and possibly the location of the oxygen bottle, then we think that Sandy did not go up.....

Reader's letter 3. Dear Sirs, I am mailing from Germany ...

I read your theory with a fascinating mixture of excitement and reason's attempt to follow each detail as watchful as possible. Your theory sounds excellent and gives much food for thinking. By all means, try to corroborate that the site IS the place where Irvine died, by getting in touch with Xu Jing - and by trying to date the oxygen bottle.

Moving within the frame of your theory, I ponder over three points:

1. If Irvine gave his oxygen to Mallory, one wouldn't expect an oxygen bottle at the place where he died.

EverestNews.com: But the bottle we found was NOT the standard bottle used in 1924 on the oxygen system, therefore one assumes it was on George's or Sandy's back going up. The shape and size points more to the 30's as we discussed earlier. However, we don't know for sure what year the bottle was from. We need to find the answer to the bottle's origin.

Reader's letter continued:  2. If Mallory DID summit alone, one WOULD expect a camera with him.

EverestNews.com: Who knows... We don't know for sure, that he even had one with him.

Reader's letter continued: 3. If they separated at the 2nd Step, Odell must have seen them at the 1st Step. But then the time is worrying me. 12:50 would indicate difficulties of some sort in coming up so far. Would Mallory have chanced a summit attempt beyond the 2nd Step, if they were already "terribly" late? Let us remember that Norton turned back at 1 p.m and that Mallory wanted to reach the ridge in the morning. 

One question concerning the posture of the "old dead": Your source said, the "old dead" lay on a snow slab on his left side, knees to his chest. In that case the man would have faced West. On the other hand, I understand that strong winds on Everest BLOW from the West. Was this snow slab between rocks?

EverestNews.com: We asked Tom West about this, since he was the person who interviewed the source of that statement, face to face. Tom told us that, yes, as he understood the climber the "old dead" was laying on his left side. Therefore, facing the Summit of Mt Everest. We do not know if this snow slab was between rocks.

Reader's letter continued: Let's look at a scenario of separation WITHOUT a solo attempt. I wonder IF a strong snow squall high up on the North Face could be sufficient to explain that Irvine, by then completely exhausted (?) by lack of oxygen, would have refused to go any farther on the way back to Camp VI. Did he die between 2 and 4 p.m.? Where would this place Mallory? In an attempt to reach lower zones with more oxygen as soon as possible, would he have left the diagonal route and climbed down through the Yellow Band (hoping to find more "shelter" within the gullies)? Or did he lose his way in the storm?

This is a field of speculation as vast as the North Face itself ... But build up your points of evidence, and speculation will look out the windows, from a better vantage point! Cordial greetings

EverestNews.com: If we understand your theory correctly: then George would of left Sandy alone to die and then instead of coming back to camp; George would of had to had went down pass 8300 meters and then turned the wrong way, got lost and then fell or got hit in the head with a rock. Seems unlikely to us...

Reader's letter 4 . Thanks for publishing your theory. It seems VERY plausible and I hope that one day it is proved correct. One aspect bothers me. If the cylinder found by Sandy's body turns out to have been his, then he couldn't have given it to George. That would mean that 2 of the (probable) 4 cylinders are accounted for. That leaves George with only 2 cylinders to summit with which probably isn't enough.

Isn't the theory more likely if the cylinder turns out to be Chinese?

Thanks again for your dispatches and theory. You are making a huge contribution to history !

EverestNews.com: This cylinder is very English. We are told E.O.C. stands for Everest Oxygen Cylinder. The 1924 bottles were stamped E.O.C. Were the 1930's bottles? We would like to know. Much to do, much to learn...


Reader's letter 5: I have a few questions and comments regarding Your Theory.

English is not my mother tongue, so I'll try to do my best.

It is very difficult to understand your theory 100%, as you never revealed more precisely Irvine's location. I understand that this location was above 8400 m, but below the ice axe position. Am I right?  Your theory is almost flawless, and I'm happy cause I had a very similar one. However, if we assume this theory, we can't explain some facts:

First of all, you are saying that Mallory made a summit attempt alone, and Irvine stayed behind. If so, Mallory would obviously have taken the camera, but no camera was found on Mallory's body...

EverestNews.com: No one knows the answer to that question today....

Reader's letter continued: Secondly, you are mentioning that Chinese climbers also found in 1960 an old body high on Everest. I've been reading about the M&I mystery for years, but I had never heard of this story. So where does it come from? When did the Chinese say something about that body? If we assume that Irvine gave his O2 bottles to Mallory, why no O2 apparatus or more bottles were ever found on the ridge?

A few years ago, I read at EverestNews.com that a polish climber had seen years ago something that looked like an old O2 apparatus at the bottom of the Kangshung face. Have you ever heard of that rumor too?

EverestNews.com: We have heard the RUMOR, but we did not include it in the theory because it is still a rumor at this point. It does need to be research and followed up on. We do not recall publishing that story. But our family of sites have around a half million pages now, so it is hard to recall all the stories. We would be interested in a link and source.

Reader's letter continued: Why do you think that Mallory attempted the second step on the ridge? It has tremendous exposure and the open book looks much easier...

The first step was never mentioned in your statements. It is very easy to put M&I near the 2nd step without explaining how they managed the first one, considering that the ´33 climbers, when they got to that point, thought it was not climbable in those days.  

I have an old Everest picture showing routes and key places of the ´24 and ´33 expeditions.

Thanks for everything again. Your effort is invaluable.

Reader's letter 6: Hey Guys, Great stuff.

Why is it hard to commit to the idea that the bottle you found, in the area you went to look for Irvine, is not his? I understand that maybe the bottle is a different shape than the known bottles on their expedition, but isn't it possible that they each had a different set up? I believe I read that Irvine spent time making adjustments, or repairs, in the high camp on their final ascent. Maybe they had patchwork equipment that was operable for their final push.

Also, If Mallory came down through the couloir, why do not more expeditions take this route these days, up or down? 

Looking very forward to see your route map.

Thanks for everything.

EverestNews.com: Because we don't KNOW the bottle was his or not. It would be more interesting if climbers did more harder routes today...

Reader's letter 7: Well done guys. It all makes sense and I would love it to be true but sadly we will never know.

Reader's letter 8: Let me say, I appreciate the efforts put forth by "EverestNews.com".  I have been fascinated by M&I for several years and reading your findings has only sparked my interests even more.  I appreciate the approach you have taken in protecting the families wishes, while satisfying our desire to learn more about these two courageous gentlemen.  Please keep up the hard work and maybe soon the theories will be put to fact by your efforts.

Reader's letter 9: Thank you so much for the Mallory & Irvine series. It has been engaging, educational and the performance of your team and the priorities that governed your decisions exemplify the highest ideals of this sport. Thank you for sharing it all - including your reasoning.

I am a non-climber, who has been "climbing" with you each May since 1996. I especially appreciate the pictures I see on many of your site entries. 

I would surely appreciate an M&I photo gallery that interspersed some of your old photos of M&I with new photos from this expedition or others to the area, that helped a novice like me visualize what you think George and Sandy saw and the climbing challenges they faced when they were together and individually after they separated. A map showing the postulated routes in a general way would also help. I'm more familiar with the South side summit route than the north side one, so even fundamental stuff, like placement of the steps and couloir would help put the photos into context. I realize this might primarily be a matter of pulling photos you have shown before into a cohesive, consecutive slide show or photo gallery. Thanks again,

Reader's letter 10: What a mystery!! It was very interesting to read your theory subsequent to your recent expedition. In reading your explanations it struck me that, if Mallory and Irvine separated at the second step with Mallory being chosen to push for the summit, then it would be logical that he would have taken Irvine's camera with him for summit shots. Of course there are many ways in which the camera could have been lost on Mallory's decent, however, I wondered if you had any thoughts on this?

Reader's letter 11: Hi, I've been following your quest for years,  one thing you do not address is the question of the Cameras, surely if Mallory was going to "go it alone" after the second step, he would have taken the camera  to record his historic event and not left it with Sandy? You're thoughts would be appreciated. Regards

Reader's letter 12: OH MY!!!!!  I just love your evaluation and theory. I read your account and this is my impression. Prior to your revelations I never thought Mallory summited.  But when you stated the theory that Sandy helped Mallory up the second step, it all made sense. They certainly could have gotten to the second step. No-one doubts that.  And yes, Sandy would have helped Mallory get over it.  Sandy would most certainly wait for Mallory.  I have read numerous accounts of people waiting and actually dying while waiting. I believe Sandy was in awe of Mallory.  He knew he was second to Mallory.  He certainly would lend Mallory his shoulders and wait . I have no doubt. I also know, if Mallory got above the second step, he summited. He would not know, as we do today, that is further away that it looks. He would not know the deadlines of time and daylight. Even if he did,  he would still go for the summit.  He could not help himself. HE COULD NOT RESIST. Even today, when climbers know the dangers, risks, and their chances they still go for the summit. The lure is too great. Does anyone really think if Mallory got above the second step he did not summit?  It also makes perfect sense that Mallory did not choose the ridge route on return. He was late, Sandy would probably not be there, he knew of a possible different route. It all fits.......There has to be something we are missing.  Something that proves his summit. I also don't get the missing "old dead" or "old English".  I am not convinced they he) is gone forever. I think there is still something there left to be discovered.

I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed your "latest news!"

ps  I was of the belief that Mallory and Sandy did not summit.  I read everything and felt confident. When I read you account and you stated, "Sandy Irvine, being the good soldier, volunteers to stay behind, and helps George up! George, with the Summit seeming to be "right there", jumps at the chance, and with a boost ..."  that gave me chills and I felt at that moment I knew Mallory summited.

EverestNews.com: Thanks for all the e-mails and support. We will be posting more soon. Submit your questions and or comments to .

We went to Mount Everest in search of an answer.


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