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  Mallory and Irvine The Final Chapter: Mail Bag 2


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:  The scenario you suggest sounds most convincing. But wherever Mallory was at 2:00 pm when that squall came in, was the place that he would have called the summit bid off.

EverestNew.com: After you see video of this year's climb from Camp 6 when it appears the whole upper mountain was covered in a big storm, and then you note that in spite of it, numerous climbers summited, you might have a different opinion. More than a squall below.

May 19th 2004©EverestNews.com

Reader's Letter continued: If Odell saw both men and said that "The first then approached the great rock step and shortly emerged at the top. The second did likewise". This would have them both above the second step, instead of one below and one above. If you are correct, then Odell probably saw the pair on the First Step. This would put the two in dire straits at 2:00 pm. somewhere near the second step. On page 232 of "The Last Climb", it says that if this storm hit Odell on the mountainface, it will have blasted Mallory and Irvine on the ridge a 1000 feet higher. Odell may have hoped they were above it, but from all the fresh snow he saw up there afterward, that was clearly not so. Both without much oxygen left if they had discarded their first bottle below the First Step, tucked under a small outcrop. Even if Irvine did give Mallory his oxygen bottle at the second step, there would not have been enough oxygen in the bottle to get him much higher. They would have both been on the end of their 2nd bottle, and Mallory would be carrying two nearly depleted bottles and the rack after having been helped up by Irvine. It is very likely that Mallory was without Oxygen just above the second step when the storm came in. Mallory may have made some head way in that storm but probably turned around way before the summit. Mallory probably was near the third step still going up for the summit during the storm, when he started making his way back down in a race to survive. If not for the storm Mallory would have without question, summited somehow that day. If Mallory summited during that storm, and made his way all the way back to where he did, he is without a doubt the best climber of all time. I suppose its possible but doubtful, because of the storm and lack of oxygen, lack of vision, etc. I still want to believe he did summit however. I would bet that the oxygen rack never made it above the second step. You guys did one hell of a job. Take care.

Summation

1.      Probably on 1st step at 12:50 if both were seen emerging at top of rock step. If Odell did in fact see them.

2.      Somewhere near second step when storm came in for 2 hours.

3.      Even if at the second step they would be at the end of both bottles and Mallory will be without oxygen above second step when storm catches him. Irvine after having been sick was probably spent at the second step. Mallory starts to head down very shortly after having reached the top of the second step cursing out loud at the storm.

EverestNew.com:  If Mallory turns around at the second step then why is his body at the location we know it is at? Think about it.

Not to belittle summiting Mt. Everest, but we now have over 2200 summits and counting.... It is possible to make it up the hill...

Reader's Letter: I just wanted to pick up on a point raised in reader letters 5, 10 and 11 in connection with the camera, assuming of course that the pair had one at all which is more likely than not.

A few days earlier, Norton left Somervell with every intention of pushing ahead to the summit. It occurs to me that all the photographs of that day which I have seen are taken by Somervell, including shots of Norton receding into the distance across the slabs at 28,000 feet on his sole summit attempt. If Norton had a camera too, I can't recall seeing any photos which he took and one might have anticipated that he would at least have taken a shot of his high point. Did Norton forget to take the camera, or did he deliberately leave it behind because, say, he didn't want to carry it? 

I wonder whether people then were quite as concerned to collect evidence of having summited as we are now. If Mallory had descended successfully after having reached the summit, would anyone seriously have doubted his word if he had no photograph? Would the British public have thought that someone of his obvious integrity might be lying? Personally, I doubt it. Maybe he wanted to push on with as little equipment as possible to give the best chance of success. Maybe he was preoccupied with the challenge of the second step and forgot to take it from Sandy before he had his leg-up. Maybe he wasn't confident of his ability to use the camera properly if he did take it. Mallory was supposed to be a complete duffer with anything mechanical. I'm sure I read somewhere that on one of the previous expeditions he wasted most of his photographs because he discovered too late that he had put his plates in back to front. He was also hoping that Noel would be able to pick him out on the ridge anyway.

I think that if your theory is correct and Mallory did go it alone, his focus would have been totally on the mountain. I would not myself read anything into the lack of a camera on his body. 

Reader's Letter: Thanks again for your postings: the Theory is tantalizing.

A couple of questions about the ice ax, which is the part that is least convincing to me. If it was Mallory's (or was being used by Mallory) could it be connected any better to where his body was found, or is that still highly implausible? Is a fall from that point too far to account for his relatively uninjured body?

EverestNew.com: We believe the evidence points to the ice axe being Sandy's and that the fall from that high does not account for his relatively uninjured body...

Reader's Letter continued: If it was Irvine's, how far was it from where (according to the theory) he died? If its a reasonable distance, is it plausible to suggest that Sandy realized that he would not need it to get down and, exhausted, dropped it deliberately simply as it was one less thing to make his attempt to return easier? Would not a climber keep it anyway, especially if he needed something to lean on as he descended? Most importantly, is there a sensible route from where the ax was found to where Sandy apparently died, which he would have taken while trying to get back to camp, or does the location suggest he must have been disoriented or got lost?

It seems to me that if we knew why Sandy left his ax it might be the key to the story.

EverestNew.com: We believe Sandy would have been almost "gone" when he dropped the ice axe. We have seen 2 cases on Everest where climbers were declared "dead" by others, and then as the heat of the day warms the body the "declared dead climber" gets up and starts walking. In both cases we can think of, the climbers then either sits back down or falls and dies while walking back down the route. The human spirit is amazing...

Reader's Letter continued: For me the three most convincing arguments in favour of his summiting are (a) that Mallory did not fall far because of the lack of injury  (b) that, to get to where he was, Mallory would in all probability have summitted, because there is no other route half as plausible to get him from the ridge to the snow terrace and (c) the goggles in his pocket.  Are there no other plausible scenarios which get him/them from high on the ridge at 12.50 to dead on the snow terrace after dark?

EverestNew.com: Yes agree and the goggles are a good point. We would be interested in hearing other theories based on the evidence known and those assumptions.

Reader's Letter continued: I'm intrigued by the "corroboration" you think might be possible of the "old dead" sighting - can you say any more? Best regards

EverestNew.com:  There is much to do; we made a mental to do list yesterday. We hope to publish it for you. Some items maybe readers could help with, i.e. research. Our average reader is of high intellectual ability.

Reader's Letter: Hello, LOL!  I am reader #1 in the mail bag. People need to put the issues of the camera or cameras to rest. There is no proof they had one with them, no proof they took it with them.

As for Mallory taking it, you are assuming a great deal about the functionality of the human body and brain at those extreme altitudes. You literally have the thought capacity of about a 5 year old when you are climbing. I am a climber and is is perfectly normal to think of what they "forgot" and didn't forget. If Mallory DID take a camera with him, it obviously is NOT on or near his body. They had metal detectors up there. I think the camera (if it was even there) is long gone. End of that subject.

One reader apparently doesn't understand that Irvine's axe was found BELOW the First Step. That is the spot where he would have died. (give or take) So, he descended a long ways by himself before the lack of oxygen, his exhaustion and the weather caught up with him and he sat down to "rest". Just think how strong a climber that makes George Mallory!! To descend Everest in poor light to darkness, along a strange route, with no oxygen, and he almost made it back!! Absolutely incredible.

I, too, have heard that story of an old oxygen apparatus being found, but I always assumed it was a rumor. Until it IS relocated (not likely) I guess it will remain a rumor. I think you have taken this almost to the end of what you can do. It is obvious that you have something of interest yet and you haven't shared it publicly at this point. I hope you will and I hope it puts one more little nail on the barrel that you guys have put together. Jim 

Reader's Letter: What is the route like after the second step?

EverestNew.com: Stu Peacock produced a great video of climbing the North side of Everest with a ton of real footage up high. We recommend it highly for anyone looking to see what it is like up high.

http://store.everestgear.com/aaa103.html VHS

Reader's Letter: Thanks for your hard work on the mountain and the theory you have carefully put together.  My son and I have put a lot of study into the whole Mallory / Irving mystery and the mountain and its terrain.  One feel that we could never figure out is the steepness of the different areas of the mountain.  Some photos make it look impossible while others make it look as if anyone could stroll along up there. [EverestNew.com: see above video, it will help!]

I have tried to find where I read about a wooden pole sticking up out of the rocks and a rope tied to this pole.  I thought it was during one of the Chinese expeditions but I can't seem to locate it. 

Could this possible be Mallory's pick axe and the rope tied to it be a piece that he used to climb down...possibly the couloir?  If this could be located it might be a piece of the puzzle.  This would explain why Mallory doesn't have a pick axe near him.  Or maybe it fell way further down and is lost forever.

EverestNew.com:  No ideas, maybe can you send us a source for the information....

Reader's Letter continued: I can find no fault with your theory.  The only thing that still puzzles me is the actual oxygen apparatus's and the fact that neither Mallory's or Irving's was ever found.  We're also puzzled by the fact that nothing was ever found on the summit.......or even near the summit.  I would think that Mallory would leave something there some how that could be found later.  But, maybe he thought he would tell people when he got down what he left on the summit as proof.  I'll bet there is something up there..........it just needs to be found.  Has anyone ever used a metal detector on the summit........or is there too much junk up there.

I really would like to see more terrain photos of the mountain, especially the area from the second step on up.  Hopefully you can release more of the photos you have taken up there as they seem to give us the best feel of the terrain and the harshness of the mountain.

We feel, as you do, that there is no way Mallory ended up where he was in, relation to Irvine (likely location),  without making the summit.  We feel that Mallory, being Mallory, though and more than likely was right,  he could climb faster and further by his self than with a partner.  I can see them separating on the mountain.

We believe Mallory to the only course that would allow him to summit and both climbers come back alive.  This is what he would do and Irving would not stand in the way.  You have to give both men a lot of credit as they focused on the goal and both gave it there all.  We will keep believing they were successful and I believe that you will prove this out.  You seem to be as persistent as the two climber when it comes to achieving a goal.

We sincerely hope that everything you need to pursue the Mystery of Mallory and Irving keeps coming to you and your brave crew. Safe travels to you.

EverestNew.com:  We hope to release more pictures and video at some point, but we are not video editors yet, so it is going slow... We also sold part of the rights, so it is a little complex... But more will be released over time...

Reader's Letter:  Hoping that my email will be read among hundreds of others, my remark is as follows:

Your theory doesn't explain why the camera was not found on Mallory. If they separated, then they must have assumed that Sandy Irvine would go nowhere and there was no point for him to keep the camera. In that case the camera should go naturally to Mallory, who was just heading straight for the summit. Unless they forgot about it, which is also possible....

EverestNew.com:  Our point of view/opinion is really easy on this: We don't know who had a camera or if they carried one for sure. People can't even agree on what camera they would have been carrying. So it is still to be determined in our opinion.

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.

Dispatches

 
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