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

The complex subject of climbers memories above 8000 meters.

Xu Jing©EverestNews.com

Q. I'm intrigued by the difference in the posture of the body believed to be that of Sandy Irvine as related by Mr Xu Jing and your (I think) unidentified other climber/source you used to help develop your intriguing theory of M&I's last day:

       Xu Jing described the scene thusly:  "The body was lying straight, facing up and the feet were pointing towards Everest."


      However, one of your others sources described the scene as: "In another interview he said the body was 'leaning like this' as he leaned to his left and put his hands up to the left side of his head and pulled his knees towards his chest. He also said that he was on 'lot of snow'. i.e., a snow slab, not on rock).


      Any explanation for the seeming disparity, do you think? Could

someone have changed the body's position at some point?

A. EverestNews.com: If you ever get 2 climbers at 8000 meters, even in 2004 to tell you the SAME story, be worried. Does that help?

Q. [follow up]: I hear you. I've spent most of my adult life interviewing people who have witnessed various crimes, accidents, public events and so on. There's always overlap but seldom to never is there agreement ... sometimes even on major details, never mind the minutiae.

      And that's at ground level.

      Anyway, I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying this. I still think you're theory is mostly, if not completely, right about what happened that day.

Q. First of all, let me tell you that I've been following your dispatches since last spring, when your team was still high on Everest looking for evidence.

The interview of Xu Jing is very interesting, but only if you believe him 100% I've been reading about the M&I mystery for 10 years now, and up until now, I had never heard of his story, In fact, the only Chinese report claiming to have found a body was the one of Wang in 1975.

Q. Ok, if they saw Irvine's body but the description of how it was laying doesn't agree with the description given previously reported?  So is there a third body that is an "old dead" or isn't it a matter of translation?  The accounting given by EverestNews.com was that the body was in a sitting position legs pulled up to the torso. Xu's account is that Irving was lying flat with his feet pointing to the summit.  I am confused.

A. EverestNews.com: We received probably around 5-6 emails on this issue, of why climbers stories vary. To your point about 100% of Xu statements. If you try to analyze 100% of any Everest climber's statement about minor details, you will certainly error many times. Look at the big picture and then the small details... Let's see if we can explain in simple terms which all can understand and using examples.

Let us tell you a story. A climber told us he summited alone on Everest. He saw lights ahead of him all the way to the summit. He wondered what the lights were, but he said never passed any climbers. No climbers ever passed him, he said. He said he was on the summit alone.

In his pictures, other climbers are in his summit pictures!!! Somewhere around 25 climbers passed him on the way down or were on the Summit with him. He never saw them. Ok, that is a bit of an extreme case. Let's look at other cases.

Another story, a few years back some climbers said these others climbers (Koreans) did not reach the summit of Everest. We politely asked the Koreans if they had some summit pictures, and they promptly sent them over, and Yes, you got it, the same climbers who were saying the Koreans lied, were on the summit with the Koreans in the summit pictures!!! We could tell you probably a 100 stories like that.

Let's look at this another way: While some rush to report when a climber posts a "death report" on a web site or tells someone, anyone it seems about it, some report it as FACT. What do we at EverestNews.com do? We call the mountain, we call people we can trust, and even then we want CONFIRMATION. What is normally released by many others is normally a rumor, because the climber does not "KNOW", that the other climber has died, he had just "heard" it. Hearing something does not make it true. The result in the last 3-4 years is that there have been around 20 FALSE deaths reported by others on 8000 meter peaks. EverestNews.com has never reported a FALSE death. This is not rocket science. In our opinion, rushing the news out, without confirmation and hoping to get a few visitors to your rag or sell a few newspapers is simply irresponsible! But it continues... Judge for yourself.

Let's look at another case just a few years ago. In this case, note climbers with oxygen, Sherpa support, fixed lines, etc. There is a rescue, some claim others did not help. However, they are not sure who these climbers were that did not help (FLAG ONE), they seem not to know how many climbers climbed by them (FLAG TWO), and yes all of them have different stories (FLAG THREE). The TRUTH is there, but not one of the climbers knew it correctly with all the details it appeared. For sure there was no agreement. What is really weird about that story is the guy who was rescued seemed to know more than the rescuers...

Some clearly don't get it why climbers tell different stories. We have talked to thousands of Everest climbers. The mind clearly does not function well above 8000 meters for many of these climbers. So why are climbers wrong, how can they report something wrong. They are human! Many are out of their element. Most are exhausted and at their mental and physical limit. For most it is their first and only time up there. They don't know where they are going. They make mistakes, and many do not always know the world is watching. Are climbers liars? No, not most anyways.... Do they recall things well from above 8000 meters? Generally no. Sherpas appear to recall things much better and are clearly on average much stronger than western climbers, but that is another story.

Does this mean all climbers stories are this bad, no. So what does it all mean? Again, we suggest you look at the big picture. If you look at the rescue we mentioned above. The man was rescued. Climbers went by him, did they help or not? Need to check to see. Need to figure out who all was there (always a good place to start). Get as many stories as possible and compare. See what the big picture says. Sometimes even then not everything adds up. We still have questions about that rescue.

Let's look at written reports of Wu's death. They vary all over the place. Wu died in 1975. We found his body in 2004. If you look at the various reports over the years, these stories of where Wu died and was found range all over the North face of Everest. Hundreds of meters differences. When our guys found Wu and we were looking at these earlier reports, these reports frankly had us very confused along with the English writing in his boot. We even wondered aloud, could history be wrong about who all died up there? No, history was not wrong. Climbers and/or writers of climbers stories were wrong. We have Wu on film. Wu is where Wu is, not somewhere else. He was not covered with rocks, nor was he in a crevasse. Did Wu's body move to that location? No one knows. But that still would not account for the various stories on Wu that are just plain wrong. Who else found Wu over the years? Who knows. It is very hard to tell from their stories. However we would guess that some saw Wu's body from a distance and they got the story wrong; or the writer of the story got it wrong.

To the big picture, back to Sandy Irvine. Are there any other climbers dead up there? History say no. No evidence to date has shown unknown dead climbers up there. All of the eyewitnesses to date put Sandy on the ridge on Mt Everest. It seems certain to us that Sandy died on the ridge. We can't believe all of these climbers are wrong. We see no evidence that he died elsewhere. 5 men say Sandy's body and/or an "old dead" climber was on the ridge of Everest. Bingo! None say this climber was in a down suit, etc. We believe them, if others don't it is a free world, well most of the world...

You have heard 2 accounts on our web site, and they vary somewhat. If we gave you 5 accounts, you would have 5 accounts that vary somewhat. If you had 5 accounts that were the same, then run!

What is interesting in our opinion is that the Chinese "name" the bodies… They don’t say ”old dead”, they say "Mallory" and "Irvine". They studied the British expeditions and actually give credit to the Brits..

We could have given you more details on Xu; yes the interview was much longer than those brief statements we released. We could give you much more detail on the others. But our goal is to move forward. We are moving forward. New information is coming in weekly.

To the question of Chinese reports: Actually if you dig deep and look you will find there are a few Chinese reports out there. For example, in 1996, Samdrup the leader of the Chinese expedition to summit the 14 8000 meter peaks and an Everest Summiter himself in 1975, reported that Wang found a body at 8100 meter in 1975. Much of what the Chinese said over the years, has not been widely reported.

Did Xu find Sandy Irvine? Yes we believe he did. Can he recall every single detail correctly from over 40 years ago, of course not. Does he know the basics, yes. We believe Xu is a good man, a man who has been through a lot, a man who did not become famous because he did not make it up the final meters. A man with little to lose now and a man ready to tell the truth. The question is, can some handle the truth?

Q. [Question continued] Secondly, if Jing indeed found a body between the first and second step, why has nobody else found it again in all of these years, in a so well known route?

A. EverestNews.com: Others did find the body, believed to be Sandy Irvine, later. Others saw a body up there. There is no question as to this fact.

Q. [Question continued] As you have quoted many times, people can get easily confused at high places... 

A. EverestNews.com: People recall things differently, all the time on Everest....

Q. [Question continued]: In your theory, your source found the body below the first step, in an off route location.

A. EverestNews.com: We never said that. We said he said he found "old dead" on or near the northeast ridge, above 8400 meters quite far from where George Mallory's body was found.

And that is really what is important here in our opinion.

While those wanting to find the camera and the potential riches that it may hold, surely want to know exactly where this location is, what does it really mean?

If Sandy died this way or that way 50 meters or 100 meters?? The big picture is, that these climbers are stating Sandy died on the ridge very high up on Everest and George Mallory's body is NOT at "on or near the northeast ridge, above 8400 meters" nor is George Mallory's body on the ridge of Everest or anywhere near the ridge of Mt Everest, nor do we believe there is even a chance George fell all the way down from the ridge to where his body was found by the Chinese in 1975. The evidence clearly shows George Mallory did not fall from the ridge on Mt Everest. We see that, as what is important in all of this. These climbers clearly died very far apart. Why?

We understand those who have been selling their fall theory might not like this. But we can't change the fact, George Mallory did not fall from the ridge of Mt Everest. It did not happen.

Q. Did any of the people you interviewed mention finding anything above the 2nd step?  I would think there would have to be something up there if anyone went beyond this point.  Maybe its not been found yet.  I sure wish Odell's sighting had been documented better but, at the time, he could not have known how important this event would become.  If Odell put them above the second step it solves a lot of problems and creates one or two.  If Odell puts them above the second step then they summited and had some disaster down climbing the second step which brings in the Mallory down climbing with injures as stated above.  If Odell puts them above the 3rd step its the same, they made it!  If Odell puts them at the first step then the summit deal is much more difficult figure out.

Keep up the good work as each piece of the puzzle make it more intriguing like the Mallory Ice Axe discovery.  I sure would like to see that Axe right beside Irving's in a Museum some day. 

Thanks again for your hard work and efforts

A. EverestNews.com: We did not really ask many questions on that subject. You see sometimes the answer a climber gives are based on the questions asked and how they are asked. We focused on Sandy Irvine.

Some assume because a climber "did not say that", that it did not happen. Was the question asked? Ask the question and then listen... Then ask others. Ask the questions multiple times to the same climber, different ways. See if the answer is the same or different. Listen, tape it.

Q. I seem to recall, in your earlier stuff a month or two ago, your placing the body at about 8400. The mitten was at 8440, the axe at 8450. The 1st step is higher still at about 8550. Yet, without seeming to spot this discrepancy, yesterday, you put Andy above the 1st step.

A. EverestNews.com: Sorry, we never have put a specific location to the Sandy's body publicly, as we have discussed and we do not plan to.

Based on what we have been told to date the search for Sandy Irvine's body appears to be over. We certainly are not going to go hunt for body parts. May Sandy Irvine rest in peace. The next Chapter for us will focus on where George Mallory travelled.

We ask that you hold your questions for now, but feedback and thoughts are always welcome at EverestNews.com

Next The Ice Axe

We went to Mount Everest in search of an answer.


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