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
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
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
If there is to be another
expedition to Everest for that possible evidence, what could I do to help? If
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.
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
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
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.
the theory more likely if the cylinder turns out to be
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
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?
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
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
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.
Thanks for all the e-mails and support. We will be posting more soon.
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